How to Negotiate a Salary Increase

Never was the saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ more relevant than when it comes to asking for a salary increase. Preparation is an absolute essential, this is not a time to wing it. These tips will help you understand what you need to be clear about before heading into that negotiation. These tips relate to base salary only, not any other aspects of salary packaging.

1. Research what the market is paying. You need to know what the market is willing to pay for someone in a similar role and for similar experience and skills. Don’t just look at the highest salary, look right across the board and see what the norm is. There are always salary surveys online which you should access but also talk to a recruitment consultant as they know what’s really going on in the marketplace and what employers are willing to pay.

2. Be clear about why you think you should have a pay increase. It isn’t good enough to simply say the market is paying more or ‘I think I’m worth it’. You need to provide evidence why you’re worth it. You can do this by going through your achievements and detailing how you have contributed to the function and what value you have added.

3. Be clear about what salary figure you want. There are several schools of opinion on whether to discuss a range or ask for a single figure. My own view is that it’s good to have a small range, the lower figure being the figure you would be happy with. So for example, if you think a good salary for you with your experience would be $110K then you might want to give a range of $110 – $115K.

This way you will be happy if you get the lower figure and thrilled if you get anything more! A small range gives a sense of reasonableness and, backed up with good evidence, it helps focus minds.

4. Think about timing. You will know when your manager will next be looking at your salary. This is often around appraisal time or you may have an anniversary date. Given your manager will be starting to think about your salary then it’s a good time to raise the subject. That way it doesn’t come out of the blue and your manager will be more in that ‘zone’.

5. Get into the right headspace. You want to be confident during the meeting but you also need to accept that you may not get what you are asking for. Consider your working relationship with your manager following this salary discussion. Think about what you will do if you don’t get the increase you want and how you will manage that. The key, of course, is to be totally professional whatever the outcome. This is a workplace situation and how you handle it will always be remembered.