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March 24, 2019

How to Negotiate a Raise

Heed this advice when asking for a bigger paycheque.

Illustration by Pablo Iglesias.

Surviving a night alone in the wilderness is, in large part, about being prepared and conquering the elements one can control: superlative fire-starting skills; expert layering for all kinds of weather; perfectly broken-in hiking boots.

The same is true of negotiating a raise. As The Office’s Michael Scott, put it, “negotiations are all about … being in the driver’s seat. And, make one tiny mistake, you’re dead.”

Though you may or may not choose to heed the advice of a fictional character who once cut up his only pair of slacks to make a shelter in the forest, recall that Michael Scott did secure an enviable 12-per cent pay increase. (Then again, he was sleeping with his boss).

While there are plenty of “dos” when it comes to increasing your chance of a pay bump (we’ll get to those), there is also a world of badly timed “don’ts” that could easily tip a potential yes over to a big, fat no. For instance, don’t whine to your boss about financial need. Don’t brag to impress. Don’t approach the topic immediately after a round of lay-offs (duh). And, lastly, don’t delude yourself that a fatter paycheque is the key to satisfaction in a job you otherwise hate. A pay raise, after all, is just one peg in the pants-tent of happiness.

Approach raise negotiations as a friendly discussion with a partner. Go in with amiable confidence; this is your career, and salary negotiation is a normal, expected part of the working world. A good manager may not be able to give you a pay increase when you’d like it, but they shouldn’t be taken aback by your desire to discuss your ambitions and plans.

 

A few more tips for pay-raise negotiations:

 

  • Keep a running list of accomplishments that prove that your performance exceeds the company’s expectations. Start that list now and give yourself time to gather solid evidence of how exactly you’ve contributed to the company’s bottom line and/or reputation; focus on as diverse a range of contributions as possible to prove your irreplaceability.
  • Do your research: find out what people with your experience and job title are generally paid by competing companies. Networking is a must (more on that on the right side of the page).
  • Business Insider suggests having a salary range in mind, rather than a specific target. Still, they advise to always prepare for a no. A manager’s hands may be tied with regard to pay but he or she might have more wiggle room when it comes to doling out additional vacation days, professional development courses or more flexible hours.
  • If the thought of asking for money makes you squirm, consider joining Toastmasters. You’ll get to practice persuasive conversation in a supportive environment, and generally boost your confidence.
From the Urban Survival Guide in Avenue Calgary’s January 2019 issue.

This article appears in the January 2019 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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