Career Calling

December 15, 2014

Negotiating Salary or a Raise

 

Here’s another sign of a changing – improving – job market: The experts are talking about how negotiate a starting salary or a raise. Much of the advice is good. However, I think any kind of negotiation with an employer can be broken down to two basic questions:

 

  1. What do you want?

 

  1. Why should your employer give it to you?

 

Too often we as employees are resentful of co-workers who work less and make more money. Or we tell ourselves that we are working that we deserve better pay because we are working so hard. These points may be true, but they won’t help you get a raise or better starting salary. Focus on two people: the person who can give you a raise and yourself.

 

First, know what you want. Here it is important to know how other employees are paid and how similar companies pay people in similar positions. If you don’t have this information, you can do research using online salary websites. The problems with these sites is that they make broad estimates. Salaries vary from region to region and company to company.

 

Establish a clear goal for negotiation and a salary range. If your currently making $50,000 and want a $3,000 raise, give yourself and your boss room to work. I’d recommend asking for a raise between $2,500 and $4,000. This range will let you negotiate up or you might get what you want with any kind of dickering. If you ask for $3,000, expect your employer to offer less.

 

While you think about what you want, you also need to put yourself in the employer’s place: Why do you deserve a raise? Think about what you have done over the last year. How have you contributed to the company? How have you made a difference? Make a list of your achievements, quantifying them if possible. Know you worth and be ready to help you employer understand why you deserve better pay. Keep your tone professional at all times. Focus on what you are doing for the company and what you expect in return.

 

Some employers are still very hesitant to give raises. They might offer a much lower number than you want or say they can give no raise at all. Just a few years ago, your options would have been limited. Now, the good news is that the job market has changed and hiring is up. If your current employer won’t give you the salary you want, it’s time to look for a new job with better pay or better working conditions. Know your value and find an employer who is smart enough to pay a fair wage and value your skill.

July 10, 2014

Prepare to Negotiate

 

I’m coaching a client whose been offered a job as a tutor. The employer offered $15 per hour, but said he is open to negotiation. My client is currently making $20 an hour at a part time job, and she works an extra job she will have to give up to take the tutoring position. She wants the job as a tutor, but wants to make at least $18 an hour.

We practiced role playing for a negotiation session. My client, speaking in a muffled voice, said she really needed $18. Playing the employer, I responded that the best I could was $16, and my client meekly replied, “O.K.” That’s not a good negotiation style or strategy.

The first thing we worked on was sounding calm and confident at all time. Even if a negotiation doesn’t go the way you want, it is important to sound like you are in control, the equal of the person you are negotiating with. Practice your negotiation pitch, and listen to yourself. Keep practicing until you sound calm and natural.

The second step is to develop a strategy to obtain the wage you are seeking. When my client started by asking for the wage she wanted, she was setting herself up to get less. What should you do? If you want $50,000, ask for $53,000 or $55,000. These amounts will give you room to negotiate down. I practiced with my client so she would ask for $20 per hour with a goal of going no lower than $18. If she’s lucky, the employer will pay the higher amount.

The third step is to develop reasons why you are worth what you are asking for. The employer really doesn’t care about what you need. They need to know why you are worth what you are asking for or why you have something now that will let you walk away from the offer. My client currently makes a little more per hour (at a part time job). She also has training in an area that few other tutors have, which is another reason she should be paid more. Before you negotiate, have some reasons why you are worth what you’re asking for.

Finally, know your limits and risks. If you negotiate in a way that is disrespectful or out of line with standards for salary, an employer could pull an offer. Do homework on salary rates before negotiating. Be respectful, but focused on your goals. If you negotiate in a strategic and professional manner, the employer will respect you and accept some or all of your terms.

May 4, 2014

When the Unemployment Rate Matters

 

In past years, I have cautioned readers to beware of statistics about the unemployment rate. The news media loves to tell negative, scary stores. Fear sells. At the same time, a tick up in the unemployment rate means nothing to individual job seekers. Think about it this way: You are not a statistic.

However, sometimes it is important to recognize a statistical trend, especially if it can help you advance your career and make more money. Job growth has been strong over the last three months, and part of that occurred during one of the worst winters in recent memory. If the rate of new hires considers to exceed 200,000 over the next few months and the unemployment rate dips below 6%, things could improve for working people.

Over the past few years, managers and employers have been able to take a “if you don’t like it, leave” attitude. They are cocky because they think almost any employee is easily replaceable. A tighter job market will make them less confident. Watch what’s going on in your company and industry. If employees start leaving for better jobs, it might be time for you to start looking for work or ask for a raise. Employers are also subject to fear. If they see the unemployment rate going down, they will start to appreciate workers more. Use that change in the economy to advance your career and, if necessary, look for a new place to work.