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Ten Tips for Negotiating a Raise

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All too often in life, you only get what you ask for. Getting a raise in pay is one of those things. There is a right way and a wrong way to ask for a raise. Here are ten tips for successfully getting a pay raise that you can live with.

Investigate peer pay

Know what your job is worth in other companies. Google is your friend in this endeavor. It may be impossible to find out what others in your company are paid, but you can research what others in your field earn and be assured that the decision maker who meets with you will have those facts. No, Virginia, he will not share them with you.

It's important to know if you are being paid near the pay ceiling for your job. You may be earning the maximum allowed for your position and not be eligible for a large increase.

Have a good case for a raise

Construct a rational business-based case for your raise request. Base it on what you've done for the company and your future worth, not on how long you've held down a desk. Show how your abilities contribute to the company's success.

Get to the decision maker

If you can, find out who will have the say on your raise request and negotiate with him or her directly. Don't just pick a human resources associate who may have no say in the decision and isn't your advocate anyway. If you end up dealing with HR, have your case in writing to be passed up the chain of command. Don't rely on the HR associate to fully present or even remember your case.

Book a meeting to present your request

Timing is everything. Schedule a meeting in a quiet place during a down-period in the organization's work cycle to get the decision maker's full attention. Don't just drop by for a chat.

Know your enemy

Don't just walk in blind to the meeting. Research the decision maker who will be meeting with you and know what they value in an associate and pitch to those values. Present your strengths in that light and be enthusiastic about what he or she values.

Be professional

In the meeting, script your presentation in advance, but present without notes. Maintain good eye contact and body language. Be friendly but firm, humor has no place here. Be sure to thank everyone who has taken the time to listen to your case.

Don't low-ball your request

No one will value you if you don't value yourself. Ask for more than you expect to receive. You might get it! This is especially true if your performance has been noticed and you're earmarked for future promotion or if the decision maker has a project in mind and decides to give it to you with your raise.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, and a larger-than-average raise may well have strings attached. Never ask for what you'll settle for up front. Negotiations are the norm, and it's expected that both sides will compromise. If you start with your bottom line, compromise means you'll end up with less than you want.

Don't bluff in negotiations

Avoid outright threats in negotiations. Better to say, "I need to consider my other options," rather than "I'll quit if I don't get this raise." Never threaten to leave without having the next job lined up. The damage to your credibility will be huge if you have to recant and back down. And you may not be allowed to recant and back down.

No one likes to be threatened. Be diplomatic.

Further negotiations

Take your cues from the decision maker's attitude during the meeting. Don't hesitate to schedule another meeting to continue negotiations if things aren't going your way. On the other hand, walking away from a good offer may result in it being retracted or reduced if the decision maker is so inclined after reviewing the meeting with the benefit of hindsight.

Get it in writing

Too often what is decided in the meeting isn't what occurs. It's best to get the details of the meeting in writing as soon as possible, especially if a bonus depending on performance is involved.

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