In order to provide for ourselves and our families we all have to work. Some people have the luxury of working for themselves, but many work for someone else. For those who work for someone, or for a corporation, they are not stuck with the wage provided. They can not only work on the side to earn more, but negotiating your salary can be relatively simple.
As our working careers progress, there should be raises that are just automatic. The cost of living continues to increase, so the value of our work naturally should keep up. But as you gain more experience and get better at what you do, you become more of an asset to the company. While it is easy for you to see how much work you put in and how you feel you should be paid more, sometimes those who have the decision to give you the pay raise are not paying as close attention. Even if they do see that you are doing a great job, they are not likely to hand out a raise unless you speak up.
There is a right way and a wrong way to negotiate your salary. Blindly going in to your boss and stating that you have been working for the company for X years, or stating that you have worked hard lately will likely result in “thank you for your dedication.” Instead you need to do some homework before the meeting.
Throughout your career you should be keeping track of the work you do. Even more importantly, you should be keeping track of how you have helped the company increase their bottom line. The more quantifiable your accomplishments are, the easier it is to show that you are an asset to the company. While making a list of how you have increased sales, ramped up production, or increased productivity, make sure to keep a log of all the things you do throughout the workday that your boss may not realize. Now that you have proof of how you are valuable, search out the average pay for similar positions (you can use the salary guide payscale.com to do this, or search for job listings in your area). Armed with this information you can schedule a meeting with your boss to tactfully explain how much value you add to the company. Then you can request that your salary come into line with the average for those in your position. If you provide a good argument, you should be able to get close to what you are asking for. But be prepared with a backup plan. It does not hurt to have applied to other companies and even have an offer waiting that you can use in your negotiations.
Most people try to get raises based on the fact that longer service means more pay. They forget that pay is often based on merit, and if you just show up every single day and do not contribute, you should be lucky that you even have a job. But if you have helped the company and added value to the company, you have a genuine reason to ask for a raise. Keep in mind that your boss might say no, and you should keep other options open. Most of all, be confident, and read Ramit’s blog for more negotiating strategies.