Negotiating a raise can be a tricky, nerve-wracking process.
Maybe you’re expecting your annual review, but you’re struggling to find the confidence to ask for an increase in your compensation.
Or, you’ve started to reflect on your achievements from the past 12 months and evaluate where you are in your career.
You’ve taken on extra projects, raised your hand for leadership opportunities, and made it a point to learn as much as possible from your peers and mentors. Now comes the tough part – asking for the pay you feel you deserve.
No matter the situation, if you have your eye on a promotion or raise you’ll want to prepare yourself for the conversation ahead and set your expectations accordingly.
I know I’m not the only person who has walked into an annual review with hopes for a big raise, only to walk out thinking, “That’s it?”
The best way to avoid that outcome is to take an evidence-based approach to determine what you’re worth.
What Is An Evidence-Based Negotiation?
First off, what is evidence-based? An evidenced-based negotiation means being able to use hard data to demonstrate why you deserve a certain level of compensation.
That might include showing your manager what someone in your role at a similar company is making.
BVOH Finance & Accounting Search created a salary guide specifically for this purpose. Download our Salary Guide below and arm yourself with the hottest trends in Finance and Accounting in the Bay Area.
Other evidence includes using your previous performance evaluations to show your recent achievements and improvements. Make sure to document additional projects (outside the scope of your normal day-to-day job) that you’ve completed and how that has saved the company money or time.
When Should You Negotiate Your Raise?
Ideally, you’d discuss a raise four to six months before the end of the year. The earlier the better. By year end, budgets are set for the next year, so there may not be room for salary increases. Raises also require approval from the finance and human resources departments, so that can prolong the process.
When you’re four to six months out from the end of the year, your boss is still considering how much money to request and allocate for salary increases, so you have a better chance of getting them to agree to what you want.
“Discuss a raise four to six months before the end of the year. The earlier the better.”
Gathering Evidence to Ask for A Raise
You’re only entitled to a raise if you’ve gone above and beyond in your role. Companies don’t give raises for simply fulfilling your job description. But if you’ve pushed the company forward in some way, you should advocate for a salary increase.
The first thing you’ll need to do is articulate the standard duties associated with your position and how you’ve exceeded them. Your boss should clearly understand the value you’ve provided and why you feel you deserve a raise. Points to highlight include:
– Extra responsibilities you accepted
– Training you provided for new colleagues
– Mistakes you identified or ways in which you saved the company money
If a team member left the company and was never replaced — and you’ve been doing their job ever since — be sure to bring that up. Any time you found an error and were able to recoup funds back is something notable. Being able to say, “I saved the company $500,000” will certainly bolster your case.
How Much of a Raise Should You Request?
Think carefully about the amount you request. Start with the BVOH Finance & Accounting salary guide to determine where you are in comparison with the market. Not only will this help you see if there’s a gap, but it will also give you a sense of what is a realistic ask. If you ask for a sum that is wildly out of sync with the market average, you may come across as disingenuous.
Bear in mind your company’s salary bands and how much your peers are making. You may feel you deserve a certain number, but there’s no point asking for it if it’s well outside the organization’s upper limits. If you feel that amount is what you deserve, consider whether you should be negotiating for a promotion that would put you in a higher salary bracket.
What is the Proper Negotiation Etiquette?
Whenever you talk to your boss about salary numbers, be confident. You’re selling them on your value to the company, so you should sound sure of yourself when making your case.
Avoid giving your boss an ultimatum. No one likes to be backed into a corner, and you’ll only damage the relationship by handling the discussion that way. You don’t want to be seen as a disgruntled employee. There are few scenarios in which relationships recover from those dynamics.
Don’t expect for your boss to give you a definitive answer right away. Remember that salary increases are a process and you’ll need to give your manager time.
There is plenty of room for negotiation if you’re willing to work with your boss.
“Avoid giving your boss an ultimatum. No one likes to be backed into a corner, and you’ll only damage the relationship by handling the discussion that way.”
Perhaps they don’t have the budget to offer you a raise right now, but they may be able to negotiate more money for you next year. If they don’t think a raise is warranted at this time, they may be willing to give you some guidance on what you can do to strengthen your position in the coming months.
In that case, set clear timelines together. Working out your mutual goals and expectations holds you both accountable and provides fertile ground for your future salary discussions. Since your boss will be tracking your progress, they’ll be able to present evidence supporting the next time they negotiate the department’s budget.
Don’t Forget to See the Big Picture
Being turned down for a raise can be dispiriting, but remember that compensation is just one component of a much larger picture. If you enjoy your work, you’re learning new skills, and you’re still early in your career, don’t take being turned down for a raise as a sign that you should leave. Continue building your skills and relationships, then reopen the compensation discussion when you have more evidence to support you.
Timing plays a role in raises as well. Maybe this year a raise isn’t in the budget, but that could change if the company does well next year. Keep an open mind as well, just because you don’t get a base increase, you may be able to negotiate for other benefits, such as a bonus or stock options.
Talk to a Recruiter
People often think of recruiters only when they’re looking for a new job. But recruiters can help out wherever you are in your career, so consider reaching out to one to help you with your negotiation. They can provide advice and market context, as well as give you pointers on negotiation strategies.
Whether you ask for a raise this year or in the next one, remember that the keys to salary negotiations are asking early, providing evidence, and keeping an open mind.