Successful Salary Negotiations

Negotiating for a raise or additional benefits is difficult, especially in a down market. Employers may value your contribution to the company, but may not be able to afford the added costs of a salary increase. This should not discourage you from presenting your case to management. The approach you take in your salary negotiations, however, is crucial to your success.

First, it is important to reaffirm your commitment to the company. Working with management to map out a career and education plan shows that you are committed to the company for the long haul. Companies are more often than not willing to make an investment in an employee who is willing to make the same commitment.

A great time to discuss your career plans is during your performance evaluation. While discussing your strengths and areas which require improvement, you can discuss training and the skills required for promotion and an increase in salary. You might also consider broaching these topics is after completing a large project. The project’s success will be fresh on everyone’s mind.

Second, maintain open lines of communication with your boss. Depending on your organization’s structure, your manager may not be aware of all of the projects to which you are assigned. Consider a weekly status report that summarizes your current and recently completed assignments. Consistent communication is essential to any organization, and your manager will appreciate being informed of your activities, especially the successes that reflect positively on your department.

Third, create a plan. Your plan needs to document career objectives, achievements (e.g. certifications, successful projects, specific issues that you were able to resolve, cost savings measures that you implemented) and accolades received by colleagues and customers alike. You should also include a listing of unique skills and how these skills benefit the company and its clients. This plan will help you present your case. You should highlight key achievements and skills and provide a copy to your manager.

Fourth, do your research. Investigate what others in your area and with your qualifications and experience are being paid before approaching management for a raise. The U.S. Government Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook is an excellent resource. Online resources, such as also provide salary figures for a variety of positions across the U.S.

Fifth, be patient. Do not expect an immediate decision. Your manager will have to submit your salary increase request to human resources, and they will have to review your past and present performance evaluations, as well as gather input from management. Follow-up with your manager 2 weeks after your initial meeting and ask when you might be able to revisit your request.

Sixth, be prepared to negotiate. If your request is denied, ask your manager to consider enhanced benefits as a way of compensating you for your performance. If this request is also denied, then you need to consider your future with the company. Keep in mind that a negative response does not necessarily reflect the quality of your work or your manager’s view of your contributions to the company. The company simply may not have the budget to support your request. In such cases, it is important to consider all aspects of your current employment, and not only salary. Explore all benefits offered by the company – for example, training opportunities and programs to reimburse education expenses.

Keep in mind that good people will always be in demand. Take every opportunity to improve your skills and keep abreast of new technologies in your field. Finally, stay positive!

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