Know Your Worth: Tips and Tricks for Negotiating a Raise

Being treated fairly means, most fundamentally, being paid fairly. But many employees accept pay and benefits that don’t reflect the quality or amount of work they perform.  As employment lawyers in New York State, we see many employment law cases that center around unequal pay and unlawful failure to pay wages; however, even if you’re uncertain that you are underpaid at your workplace, you may want to consider whether your salary and benefits are proportional to the benefit your employer is gaining from your services.

Negotiating a raise is a delicate issue, but you can turn the conversation to your advantage by implementing some of the following recommendations from our firm. Remember that as always, you shouldn’t hesitate to stand up for your work product and your worth as an employee.

  1. Prepare your pitch.

Discussing a raise can be a pivotal career move, and it deserves all the preparation you can give it. Before you approach your boss, think about and list the concrete ways in which you’ve benefited your company. Quantitative figures are the best way to make your case. Create a list of recent accomplishments from your current position, making sure to pay special attention to numerical facts. For example, if you know that sales have increased since you’ve been in your position, calculate the exact percentage and list it. If you’ve completed a significant project successfully or can claim  particular responsibility for certain aspects of a larger project, list that as well. Of particular importance to your employer is how much your work benefits the company’s bottom line. Have you saved money or resources? List it. Increased profitability? List it. Having concrete evidence to show your employer will make it more difficult to refuse you, as your qualifications and accomplishments are out in the open and more difficult to dispute.

  1. Assess your value.

Always consider any extra work you’ve done that increases the value of your position. Perhaps you’ve been putting in extra hours to compensate for a position that’s been downsized, or maybe you’ve gone above and beyond recently to help your company meet its goals. Has your work deviated from your job description in a way that gives you more responsibilities? It may be that the nature or volume of your work has significantly changed since you and your employer reached your initial salary agreement. If applicable, collect documentation of these changes to present to your employer as further evidence that you deserve a raise.

  1. Do your research.

It’s difficult to place a number on your value as an employee, but if you want to negotiate a raise, you should always have an idea of what you want. Choose a number or a raise percentage that a) you are satisfied with; b) you feel accurately reflects your worth to the company; and c) is comparable to the salaries of others in your field with a similar level of expertise. You can find out how your current salary compares by conducting online research or even reaching out to other professionals. Sometimes, such research reveals a baseline number  that you can present to your employer as evidence that you might be undervalued. Even if your employer is reluctant to give you the amount you want, your research may convince them to increase your pay above your previous salary. It’s best to aim high so that you have more negotiating power if your employer concedes that you’re deserving of a raise.

  1. Consider negotiating other job benefits in addition to your pay.

Sometimes, an employer and employee may agree that the worker is being undervalued, but unfortunately, the company’s bottom line just doesn’t allow for a significant monetary raise. If you find yourself in this situation, consider requesting other changes that you would benefit from. For instance, if your job has grown to include more responsibilities than it did initially, you can ask for a more prestigious title that more accurately reflects the work you do. Also consider requesting an increase in vacation time, or a more flexible work schedule. In some cases, your job may even allow you to work from home several days a week. If you have a proven track record at your workplace, it’s reasonable to request accommodations such as these in lieu of a traditional raise, or to supplement a raise that is smaller than you anticipated.

  1. Be strategic and professional.

Time your request appropriately. Your scheduled performance review is an opportune time, but you may also wish to broach the topic after a particularly successful project or presentation—anytime when you’ve proven yourself worthy of a reevaluation. Don’t approach your boss out of nowhere; rather, set up a meeting in advance and come prepared with several copies of your written list of accomplishments—your boss will appreciate the forethought. During the meeting itself, remain pleasant but direct, and be confident about your work and your merit as an employee. Be very cautious of appearing greedy or entitled, but make your case firmly and highlight some of your most valuable assets. Compare your skills and performance to those of professionals in your field at large, rather than that of your co-workers. Additionally, never give your boss an ultimatum. Though you’re negotiating on opposite sides of the table, keep in mind that you both have an interest in the company’s continued profit and wellbeing. At the end of the day, with this mentality, you may find yourself more successful than you’d hoped.