Your guide to negotiating a salary raise

According to the experts, you need to be prepared and know your worth.

The cost of living just keeps going up, and with that added pressure now constantly bearing down on us, you’ve probably begun to wonder whether you can negotiate with your employer for a higher salary.

Sure, the idea of asking your boss to give you more money is incredibly daunting. But in this day and age, it’s a conversation you simply have to have.

And according to Sam Trattles, CEO and Negotiation Strategist at Other Side of the Table, it isn’t so scary as long as you go in prepared.

Woman on the phone and also working on her laptop.
It’s extremely normal to feel nervous about negotiating for a higher salary.

How do you politely negotiate salary?

“If the thought of asking for what you’re worth makes you uncomfortable, you are totally normal. Most people, actually 87 percent of people feel apprehensive about negotiating anything,” Sam says.

And the reason we feel this way is because we’re not taught how to negotiate in school. Plus, it’s still somewhat frowned upon to openly talk about money.

But as long as you’ve worked hard, delivered better-than-expected results and positively contributed to your organisation’s culture, Sam advises that “it’s reasonable to set a time to talk about your worth.”

“Ahead of the discussion, ensure you prepare. Get clarity on the outcome you’re seeking and why now is the right time for this change. Consider how it might go and what you’ll do or say if it does. This approach should help you feel more comfortable to talk about your worth with confidence.”

Renata Bernarde, expert Career Coach and host of The Job Hunting Podcast, agrees that being prepared is the best way to approach a negotiation. But she also suggests that staying “positive” and “cooperative” throughout the process can be helpful.

“I have found that the strategy of maintaining a positive tone and cooperative mindset can help frame the negotiation as a collaboration, not a confrontation,” Renata says.

“Preparation is key: understand your worth and arm yourself with market data to back up your requests. Highlight your value and contributions, [but] approach the discussion from a collaborative standpoint, aiming for a win-win outcome.”

Two office colleagues walking past some computer desks.
The key to negotiating a higher salary is being prepared.

What do you say to negotiate a higher salary?

Okay, so you’ve gotten up the courage to set up a meeting. But what exactly do you say to successfully negotiate a higher salary?

Well, for starters, you shouldn’t bring up the personal reasons you want a higher salary.

“[A] common mistake people make when approaching discussions around their worth, are… When people think the story about why it’s time for pay rise is because ‘the cost of living crisis is really hitting my family hard, so I need a pay rise’. Your lifestyle choices are not the businesses problem (harsh, but true) – but keeping a valued team member is. Being able to articulate your worth and the impact you make, is a much more beneficial approach,” Sam says.

Instead, talk about your performance (if you work in a field where you have key performance indicators, it’d be extremely beneficial to bring along evidence that you’ve hit those targets), how your role has evolved, and how you’ve taken on extra responsibilities.

If you’re looking for an exact phrase to say, Sam says, “I want to have this conversation today, because I enjoy my role, I’m doing a good job against my role’s success metrics, [and] I want to stay here, so I want to know that there’s a plan for my growth,” is a great starting point for a salary negotiation.

A woman shakes hands with a colleague.
A common mistake when negotiating is talking about your personal life…

How do you negotiate salary after being hired?

If you’re in the process of switching jobs, you can negotiate the salary after you’ve been hired for a new role. In fact, Renata says this can be the perfect time to do so.

“The most opportune moment to negotiate salary is after you’ve received a formal job offer but before you’ve accepted it. At this point, the company has already invested time in selecting you and is keen on having you onboard, providing you with some leverage. This is the biggest and most important recommendation.”

“If you bring up the negotiation too soon, they may cut you from the shortlist. If you wait until the offer is made, you’ve had the opportunity to discuss your experience, accomplishments, and the value you bring to the company. Once the employer understands and appreciates your potential contributions, they may be more willing to accommodate your salary requests.”

Overall, whether you’re negotiating with a new employer or a company you’ve worked at for years, just stay calm and collected. Asking for more pay is not wrong!

“Remember that advocating for yourself doesn’t mean antagonising the employer. If approached thoughtfully, salary negotiations can strengthen, rather than strain, your relationship with the employer by setting clear expectations from the outset,” Renata says.

“Embrace what’s possible, invest some effort to prepare, and schedule a time for a reasonable conversation about your worth. Good luck!,” Sam echoes.

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