4 tips on negotiating a pay raise at your current job

Everyone wants to get paid what they are worth for the job they are doing. A survey released by Payscale earlier this year says 67% of managers believe their employees are paid fairly, but only 21% of employees feel their pay is accurate. 

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“Compensation is a key driver and motivator for most people,” says Oliver Cooke, executive director, head of North America at Selby Jennings. “That old phrase you don’t ask, you don’t get is still very true. But at the same time, it’s important that you ask in the right way.”

Cooke says there are four things you should do before approaching your boss for a salary increase:

Do the research

Everyone has an idea of what they should be paid based on their role. Cooke says sometimes it’s realistic, sometimes it’s not. That’s why he says it’s important to go into a compensation conversation from an informed perspective.  The best way to do that is by doing your research. Go out and meet people externally who do the same job as you. By expanding your network, you can get an accurate perspective of what people in your role, at a similar firm and similar seniority level are getting paid. Cooke also recommends speaking to recruiters. They can give you a cross-sectional perspective of what someone in your position should be getting paid. He says your research will be even more thorough if you can find a specialist recruiter that deals with your field or area of expertise.

Choosing the right time and place

Oliver doesn’t recommend meeting in your manager's office to discuss a raise. Psychologically that could give them the upper hand. He says a neutral location is the best place to have a salary conversation. This way you can negotiate from a level playing field. Find out is he/she is able to meet outside of the office over lunch or a drink after work.

He says the best time to have the discussion is 90 days before annual review time. At a management level, that’s when compensation is being discussed. You want to make sure you are at the forefront of those conversations. 

Give the right reasons

Discussing compensation can be a very emotional experience. Oliver says it’s important to go into the discussions from a non-emotional perspective. Make sure you give real business reasons why you feel you are not being compensated fairly. Have you just started a large project? Have you recently been asked to take on extra responsibility?

“Your child’s tuition fees or the car that you leased is not a reason why you should get a pay increase,” he says. “That’s not really your employer’s concern. Their concern is - is this person valuable to the business, are they someone we really, truly value, are they delivering above and beyond what we’ve asked them to do and are they a strong performer? If you can justify those things as part the conversation, you are going to be putting yourself in a good spot.”

Oliver says it’s important to maintain a professional approach throughout the entire conversation. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Take any constructive criticism, feedback or development points around your performance. 

Have a follow-up plan

Based on his experience, Oliver says chances are your manager will decide not to give you a salary increase. What they may ask you to do is put a plan in place to get you to where you want to be in terms of compensation. To reach that goal, they may give you some objectives and targets they want you to fulfill over the next 3 months to a year. If your boss’ answer is a firm no, he says you need to be prepared.

“The reality is we are in a current market where unemployment is near record lows,” Oliver says. “There are a lot of amazing opportunities out there. We would always advise keeping your ear to the ground and going out there and speaking to your competitors and employers in the industry. Get to the crux of what your market value is worth and perhaps go out there and try to get some offers. That will give you a true perspective if you should be getting paid the compensation number that you would like to get to.”

Linda Bell joined FOX Business Network (FBN) in 2014 as an assignment editor. She is an award-winning writer of business and financial content.  You can follow her on Twitter @lindanbell.