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6 Tips for Negotiating Your Way to a Higher Salary

Kelly McDonald, human resources manager for startup accelerator Cogo Labs, shares some inside tips on how to successfully ask for a raise.

You’ve landed the job, negotiated your salary, and have proven yourself as a superstar within the company over the last year. The hard work and long hours are bound to pay off, right? Well, not unless you ask.

How do you have that tough conversation and ask for a raise? As an HR manager, I’ve seen what works, what doesn’t, and everything in between. Here are my tips for how to successfully negotiate your way to a higher salary.

Come with a Brag Sheet

A raise is given because you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and should be recognized for doing so. One of the best ways to convince your boss of this is to come with a “brag sheet.” Keep a copy of your job description handy and every time you exceed what’s on that paper, write it down! It could be taking over additional duties while someone is on leave or consistently surpassing your sales quota. “I’ve been here for a year” is not a good reason. Show them the data and you’ll have a strong case.

Do Your Research and Do It Right

One of the easiest mistakes to make is not finding the right comparables when doing your market research. You might be a senior marketing manager at your current company, but your two years of experience might only get you an associate level job at Google. Check the descriptions, experience levels, and ZIP codes for the other salaries you’re using for comparison to make sure you’re getting the right match

Timing Is Everything

Did the company just lose a huge account? Is your boss having a bad day? All your careful thought and preparation could mean nothing if you choose the wrong moment to bring things up.

Leave Emotion Out of It

While there might be a very real reason you need more cash flow, chances are your employer won’t care that your rent went up $200 a month or that you have a huge student loan payment. A raise should be based on your accomplishments and contributions. Keep your reasons limited to those topics just to be safe.

Consider Other Forms of Compensation

For some companies, especially young startups, it can be hard to grant raises at times. Consider your salary as a piece of your overall compensation. It makes up a pie that also can include stock options, paid time off, performance-based bonuses, and other fringe benefits. Be creative if more money is just not a possibility.

Be Flexible with Your Timeline

One negotiating tool you can use to get the salary you want is the phased approach. If the company can’t do $5,000 now, then what about $3,000 now and $2,000 more in six months? Get it in writing and make sure that any goals you need to meet to get your second raise are clearly understood and agreed upon by both you and your boss.

Remember that these conversations are awkward for everyone. It’s uncomfortable to talk about money. Rehearse in your head, find a friend that’s successfully negotiated a raise to practice on, or just look in the mirror and deliver your pitch. It’s important to sound confident and present an argument that is well thought out. Maintain eye contact, sit up straight, bring your research, and don’t apologize. You deserve this!

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