In the movie Jerry Maguire, negotiating a raise for an athlete is as simple as encouraging your agent to “Show me the money!” This scene made millions of moviegoers smile. Who doesn’t want a raise? But most people, even highly skilled and experienced executives, are uncomfortable asking for what they’re worth. Negotiating a salary or a raise is stressful for most, one of the hardest parts of managing your own career.
Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for negotiating, starting with the one that made us laugh when Cuba Gooding, Jr. got Tom Cruise to say it with him:
- Don’t shout “show me the money”, even if you loved the movie. Unless, of course, you’re a famous footballer encouraging your agent to negotiate for you, then quote away. Your agent is guaranteed to employ other tactics at the negotiating table!
- Do the research. Know your market, what other organizations in your city or area of the country are offering employees with your skills, experience, and reputation. Be honest with yourself about your worth to this organization and where you should fall on the range of compensation in your market.
- Don’t walk in without limits. You know what you are worth in your market, so identify which number would have you saying YES! to the offer, and which number would cause you to say “Thank you, but no.” Anything between those two numbers can be negotiated. When you know where your limits are, it’s easier to respond quickly with a yes, no, or negotiation.
- Do be honest about needs. If you are asked to state your salary expectations, and you know you need at least $200K to meet your financial obligations, be honest with hiring influencers and accept that your needs may not match their means. It’s far better to know at the start that it’s not a good match.
- Don’t be shy. List the contributions you have made and make your value to the company clear with evidence, examples, and numbers. It’s much harder to ask you to wait another year for a raise if you come to the table with reminders that you’ve saved your organization a million dollars over the last two years, or brought 8 million in new accounts into the firm.
- Do be firm, but fair. You need to keep your 2 numbers in mind (#3) when telling your boss or hiring influencer what you want. No ultimatums, no dramatics. Just be clear about what you think you’re worth and know what you’ll settle for if they want to lower your ideal number. You’re negotiating, not making war, so walk in knowing you are likely to come to a compromise that ends with both sides leaving some desires unmet.
- Do think outside the box. Is the company recovering from a big loss, or did they just merge and are going through growing pains? Consider “I’m sorry, we’re not doing that for anyone right now” to be an opening negotiating tactic. Ask what would need to happen to make the raise/salary you want possible. If they say it’s a financial issue, and you CAN wait for the monetary raise (again, #3), what else can you ask for that would make you feel better compensated? More vacation time, tuition reimbursement, training opportunities for your next career step…any of these can feel like a step up. If the company says you lack training or experience, make the effort to negotiate getting those necessities through your organization. Knowing that you’re filling in skills gaps and growing your career can be as satisfying as the pay raise, and that eventual step up should raise your salary expectations over the rest of your career, a valuable bonus.