When To Negotiate Your Salary

When is the right time to engage in a salary negotiation?

Photo credit: Grand Canyon University

Negotiating your salary can be one of the most stressful parts of managing your career — and as we see the introduction of more types of companies, this becomes increasingly more complicated. For example, working in a startup company presents different opportunities for negotiation than working in an investment bank with a long-held structure and growth plans.

In addition, the number of people who are working remotely, either as freelancers or consultants, introduces an interesting element to this question — when is the right time to increase your rate of services?

This is why it’s important to consider opportunities to negotiate your salary or increase your rates before they happen so that you’re prepared to seize the moment and raise your income.

Below is a list of 10 opportunities to negotiate your salary or increase your rates that could occur throughout the course of your career:

During a job offer

This is the most obvious opportunity to negotiate your compensation. When you have the job offer in hand, it’s time to negotiate if you think you deserve more. Consider these seven questions before you get the job offer so that you’re prepared for the conversation in advance.

In a performance review

Most organizations have a formal process for reviewing your performance throughout the year and these opportunities are a great time to have a conversation about compensation. Before  your review, make sure you’re prepared to discuss salary if you think your performance warrants an increase in pay. Here’s a worksheet to help you prepare.

During a company buyout or acquisition

In the tech world, companies are constantly getting acquired or bought out, and this is an opportune time to have a conversation about your overall compensation package. In fact, at this juncture it is crucial to engage management about your career development and future at the company. Demonstrate your enthusiasm to keep your job and your plans to stick around for the long-haul, and maybe ask for a raise.

You get promoted

A promotion or a job title increase is the perfect time to engage management in a conversation about your compensation, especially if this bumps you into a new salary bracket. When the promotion gets handed over, that’s the time to ask for what you want.

You are assigned more responsibilities

Anytime you take on more roles and responsibilities, it’s an opportunity to consider negotiating additional pay. You’re doing more work, so typically you should get paid more. Talk to your employer about your new goals and see if there is a possibility to earn more money.

You’re moved into a management role

Managing other people and having people reporting directly to you is typically worth more money in the marketplace. If you’re assigned new management duties, this is a time when you’ll want to consider asking for an increase in pay. Demonstrate your enthusiasm to take on this new role, and present the case for why you deserve more compensation.

Your manager, boss or supervisor changes

If your manager gets promoted or moves on to another company, this is a time to engage your new boss about your career goals. Set a meeting to build rapport and to get to know your new boss. Depending on the circumstance, if you’ve been wanting an increase in pay, this can be a good time to ask.

Your skills are in higher demand

You should always be keeping an eye on the marketplace to see what the going rate is for the work you do. What does,, and have to say about the average salaries for your skillset? Check current job listings for your type of work to see what the salaries are and even talk to trusted professional peers about what they think the going rate is for the work you do.

Pro-Tip: If you freelance or work as a consultant, watching the going rates for what you do in the marketplace is especially relevant. You know you need to raise your rates when you’re overbooked, have lots of offers for work and can’t keep up with the demand for your skills.

You increase your education or training

If you complete a master’s degree or PhD, it’s time to talk about increasing your compensation. If you get a special certification that makes your skill-set unique in the marketplace and you a more valuable asset to the company, then you should also think about having a conversation about your salary. Demonstrate how your newfound knowledge positively impacts the company and ask for a raise.

The company is growing and changing rapidly

In the new world of work, your roles and responsibilities and even your company can change dramatically every six months! If your company is growing and changing and you see a shift in the amount of profit it’s making, then this is a great opportunity to think about your overall benefits package and growth trajectory in the organization. Engage your leadership about your future at the company and bring up your salary if you think it’s a good time.

Overall, you’re looking for openings, opportunities and breaks in the normal flow of things to start a dialogue about your growth potential and compensation package. In the end, trust your judgement, feel your way through it and ask for advice from a trusted mentor.

Finally, here are five of the most important things you want to think about when it comes to negotiating your salary.

  1. A successful salary negotiation is all about preparation! Research your counterpart to understand their motivations, analyze the situation and know what is important to you before you have this conversation. Finally, do your homework! Know the salary range you want to be in and what your bottom line (your walk-away point) is.
  2. During the negotiation, make it a conversation not a competition. This is all about finding a mutually beneficial agreement on the exchange of services you provide to the organization and what they pay you in return. Get creative and think of all the various things you can negotiate on besides money.
  3. Be patient. Negotiations can take weeks, and even months to iron out, so see it through and exercise patience to manage uncertainty during this time.
  4. Don’t negotiate just to negotiate. Negotiate your salary because you can present a compelling case for why you deserve it.
  5. Always be on the look-out for ways to advance your career. Keep an eye out for opportunities to learn, grow and expand your relevance at the organization to increase your compensation.

If you want to learn more about salary negotiation, download the Superwoman Project’s free salary negotiation tool-kit.

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