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How To Get The Salary You Want

Originally posted on Forbes.

I would like to discuss my compensation.

If reading this statement made you cringe with discomfort, you likely avoid conversations with management about your pay.

Money might be one of the most uncomfortable things to talk about, especially when it comes to negotiating your salary. But, if you want to have the life of your dreams and be compensated for your value, don’t dodge this topic. By being avoidant you might be missing out on millions of dollars over your lifetime.

As a career coach who works with clients to create their dream job, I am surprised to find how many of them want to make more money but feel trapped in their current salary. Like so many, a recent client of mine, Madeline, wanted to ask for a raise but didn’t know how and always got too anxious to bring it up in conversation.

She isn’t alone, employees, especially women, swerve around this topic altogether. It is reported that only 40% of people negotiate their salary and of the ones that do, the overwhelming majority are men. People are clearly not comfortable asking for more, and they should be.

Here are four things to do when you speak up and ask for the salary you want:

1. Build a case to show your worth.

Did you lead a project that saves millions of dollars last year? Have you taken on new responsibilities that exceed your current role?

Asking for more money should come as a result of improved worth. Compile information and data around the contributions you made to your company. And provide specific measurable performance data when possible. If you can show your boss the value you bring, they will be more likely to see the benefit of giving you more of an incentive to stay.

Create a brag sheet for yourself, on this paper list out any awards, big accomplishments or projects you completed.  Don’t forget to pull customer or peer testimonials that support your efforts, personal connection goes a long way in showing your value. Review this content before you head into the conversation to be motivated and reminded of why you want more money.

Don’t be afraid to show your worth and really sell yourself.

2. Do your research and be very specific.

Before marching into your bosses office, get an understanding of the salary your current role holds given the years of experience you have. Do some online searching through sites such as glassdoor Know Your Worth or PayScale.

You do not want to walk into the conversation feeling unprepared of missing key information. Gather salary information from your skill set and from your specific industry. If your company has a major competitor, research how much their employees are making. Be sure to take into consideration any additional salary incentives such as stock offerings or special bonuses when comparing prices.

With this data, write down a very specific salary value you plan to ask for. To show that you have done your research and aren’t just arbitrarily asking for more, set a number like $74,979 as opposed to $75,000. Research shows that a specific number is more successful in negotiations.

3. Communicate clearly during the negotiation.

Men are more likely to get a raise when they ask for one compared to women, and studies show it is based on the way in which they ask. Although it may feel scary at first, approach the conversation with confidence and be assertive.

If you need to beforehand, step into the bathroom and hold a power pose for a few minutes to build your confidence.  And if you are able to control the jitters, drink some coffee. Studies have found that caffeine makes you more resistant to persuasion. Don’t forget your morning latte on the day of this conversation!

Start the conversation with outlining the brag sheet highlights, maybe even print off a formal version of it and share with your manager or HR contact. With this information shared, transition to discuss the future salary you are looking to have.

Practice this conversation prior to formally sitting down with someone you trust, or even talk out loud to yourself while driving to the office. Practice makes perfect, and your salary negotiation is no different!

4. Don’t make it personal and don’t take it personally.

Keep your personal needs out of the salary negotiation. Your increased rent or childcare isn’t going to get you a raise, or come across professional so don’t bring it into the equation. Keep the focus on your performance and the market value.

If the negotiation results in a no, understand that there may be some external factors at play, like company budget, that has nothing to do with your performance. Seek to really understand why the answer might be no, and then work around making improvements or changes to support your future request. A no one doesn’t mean no forever.

And realize this, salary isn’t the only thing you can negotiate. If money isn’t an option make a request for flex time, work from home days, more vacation time or a new passion project. Get creative in asking for what you really want.

Madeline took these tips into consideration when she planned out her salary conversation and was able to lock in a 7% raise along with two extra vacation days per year. But what she got out of it more than a salary, she built a new sense of confidence and realized that talking about money wasn’t nearly as bad as she thought it would be.

Salary negotiation can be scary, but the more you practice it, the easier it will become. Don’t let the fear of a conversation stop you from being paid what you are worth!


Ashley Stahl helps job seekers find their purpose, land more job offers and launch their dream businesses. Sign up here for her free jumpstart course on how to land a new job you love.

CLICK HERE to unlock Ashley’s free online course to launch a service-based business!

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