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How to Negotiate a Higher Salary

Updated: Mar 27

Everyone wants to get paid more, here are a few tactics on how to negotiate a higher salary at your current job.


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Tactic #1: Ask for a salary adjustment (if you're currently underpaid)


Before you even ask for a salary adjustment, do your research. Make sure you're talking to your colleagues and friends in HR. Do you know where you are in your salary band for employees at your level? Where do you fall compared to everyone else - both people who were promoted internally vs people who came in externally? In order to get a salary adjustment, you need to provide facts on where you stand in the band vs the median and why you deserve to be towards the middle/higher end of the band.


I know it's difficult to talk about, but you have to talk about salary with other employees (and Glassdoor). If your company doesn't disclose salary band ranges or doesn't give you an understanding of where you stand vs your peers, the best way to find out this information is by talking to others. Yes, it's uncomfortable to ask and yes, it might lead to imposter syndrome, self-doubt, feelings of jealousy, etc. But it is a great way to find out if you're being screwed. I talk about salary with colleagues that I trust and we have honest conversations about fighting for higher pay. I've shared my experiences and they've shared theirs - which has helped me when I'm going to HR to talk about my pay gap. I know what questions to ask, I know how they will retaliate and I am prepared with very specific points on how to push back.

If you do find out that you are in the lower end of your salary band even though you have the years of experience, positive performance reviews, etc, you have grounds to ask for a salary adjustment. Make sure you walk into the conversation with the facts: what is the low end of the band, what is the high end of the band, what is the median and where do you currently fall. Ask your HR partner what your compa ratio is - this will tell you how close you are to the midpoint. 100% compa ratio means you're being paid at the midpoint of the band, while anything higher than that means you're being compensated higher than the midpoint. Your employer should tell you this information or share what metrics they do look at when evaluating salary/compensation if it's not compa ratio.


Tactic #2: Make sure your manager and M+2 are also fighting for you


You should not be fighting for your salary alone, especially if you're in a larger corporation. Your manager and sometimes your M+2 should also be advocating for you on your behalf. First, if you're good at your job, they will want to keep you happy. While turnover in a broader sense may be easy to swallow for a billion dollar company, your manager has to deal with it directly, ensuring that your position is filled and training your replacement so they can ramp up to where you were when you left. That is not easy and is certainly something no manager wants to deal with if it can be avoided.


Have a conversation with your manager. Are they aware of what your compensation is and how it compares to your peers? Make sure your manager is aware of how you feel about your compensation and why you deserve more. They are more than likely having conversations with HR or with their manager about talent within the organization and may be able to fight for you on your behalf in those conversations. There are meetings that you may not be present in, but are being talked about when it comes to succession planning and future moves. Having an advocate in those conversations can push things along.


Tactic #3: Get a higher salary offer externally and have your current employer match it


This one is the best if you're non-confrontational, but it's also the tactic that requires the most work/effort. This of course also depends if your current employer will match external offers. I know friends who work at companies that don't do that at all. If you want to leave, you leave, no matter how talented you are. I worked at a company where presenting an external offer was a way to ensure you were paid fairly. Most people I know have actually done this tactic and have stayed because the company decided to match (they did actually leave the 2nd time they found an offer). Unfortunately, most companies find out your worth when another offer is present. It's sad, but true.


The issue with this is the amount of time you need to commit to refining your resume, applying to jobs, interviewing and collecting references. All while still doing your current job and exceling at it to prove you deserve that raise (although if you aren't being properly compensated, I'm not sure you need to excel THAT much).

Once you receive a formally written offer, you would then tell your manager that you've received an external offer and are considering taking it. When I did this, my manager at the time told me that the company would match it and to give her some time to discuss with HR. They didn't even ask to look at my offer letter, she just asked me for the salary and I told her and HR came back with a matching offer and a new job position that I might be interested in taking. I didn't have to even ask them to match. Not all companies are like this. When you tell your manager that you have an external offer, see how he/she/they react. If they're not understanding, tell them explicitly that you will stay if the company matches the salary of the external offer.


Unsure of how to ask? Not feeling confident in asking? Schedule a 1 hour discussion and I'll help you craft your ask.



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