Now’s a Great Time to Ask for a Raise. Here’s How.

Early January is often an excellent time to ask your employer for a pay increase.  It’s the start of a new year, everyone’s in a good mood and in many work places the stats for measuring employee performance are starting from scratch.  Last year’s results are in, and it’s clear you came in well above expectations.

But it’s important to remember you don’t automatically get paid what you deserve.  You get paid what you ask for.

Here are five top ways to ask, and get, the compensation you deserve.

  1. Know what your employer is paying others in your position or classification.  Find out what others in your position earn, and what those above you a level or two make as well.  If you work for a public entity, salary information is often public record.  Get it.  If salary information isn’t public, do your best to find out what others earn from informal chatting and networking.  Use popular online sites like, where former employees post salary and other information, and learn what you can.  Knowing what’s doable is critical in your negotiations.
  2. Prepare talking points to promote your achievements.   Catalogue your best accomplishments in 2017, and be ready to explain how you’ll build on that in 2018.  Never assume your manager knows or remembers everything you’ve done.  I’d even recommend putting together a formal bullet-point list of your achievements to pass along.  That allows your managers to see your accomplishments in print, and it also gives them talking points to pass along to higher management.  In other words, help your managers by giving them the tools they need to get approval for your raise from others.  Make their task as simple as possible.  Make your “raise toolkit” as polished and persuasive as possible.
  3. Aim High. Don’t be modest.  You might be surprised to know that many lesser performers get bigger raises entirely because they ask for it.  Be bold.  And remember that your employer may counteroffer with something less, and that counteroffers are usually linked in some way to your original offer.  So the higher your opening demand, the higher the counteroffer is likely to be.  Don’t feel obligated to accept the counteroffer.  Make your own counteroffer and keep it going.  (Here’s a good rule of thumb in negotiating:  If your opponent in a negotiation says yes to your first offer, you started too low.) So be bold.  Not outrageous, but bold.  There’s a difference.
  4. Practice the negotiation.  Most professional negotiators – lawyers, bankers, investors, dealmakers – visualize the negotiations ahead of time.  It goes something like this: “If I start at X….they’re likely to counter with Y….so if they counter with Y, I should probably counter back with…..” and so on.  It’s similar to the preparations of chess experts, who play out entire games in their head to be ready.  You’re not ready if all you’ve done is come up with your opening move.  I recommend planning for four or five rounds of back and forth. What will their counteroffer be? What will you propose then?  What will they say back to that?  And what will you follow up with?  There’s no way to get caught off guard this way.  Further, consider proposing that you get paid in part if you meet certain goals. That can help.  Consider non-monetary benefits as well, such as a different workplace, better equipment, or travel for work-related training. The best negotiating book I’ve ever read – a catalogue of negotiating tactics used by pros everywhere – is David Rosen’s 99 Negotiating Strategies: Tips, Tactics & Techniques Used by Wall Street’s Toughest Dealmakers.  You can find on Amazon for about fourteen bucks.  It’s excellent for any kind of negotiation, and many of the tips will help you negotiate a pay raise.
  5. Stay positive, no matter what.  Top negotiators have a knack for using positive, upbeat points to sell their ideas.  Don’t go negative.  For example, don’t complain that you’re underpaid.  Don’t complain that someone else is making more and so you should, too.  Don’t offer your managers a way out, such as “I know this isn’t a good time to ask for this, but…..”  Stay upbeat and keep the conversation focused.

Good luck!

Jim Garrity


Categories: Pay Raises

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