Seven Steps to Negotiating a Higher Salary

• Step 1: Overcome your fear.

o The first step is to overcome your fears. Many people don’t even begin a salary negotiation.

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We may be afraid of angering the boss or think that because we are doing a good job, we’ll

automatically be rewarded. But just because you’re doing a good job doesn’t mean you’ll

automatically get a raise. Why? If you don’t ask for one, the boss may believe you’re satisfied

with what you’re getting. So why should he pay you more? Imagine going into a car dealership

and being absolutely delighted with a car choice. The sticker price is $19,000. Would you pay

the dealer $23,000 just because you really like the car? Of course not. You probably wouldn’t

even offer $19,000. If the car was up for auction, however, and another bidder offered

$20,000, you’d likely increase your offer, too.

o That’s what salary negotiation is like. Your boss may be thrilled with you but at the same time

is running a business. There’s no reason to pay an employee more if you seem satisfied with

your current salary.

• Step 2: Get the facts.

o Before you enter into the negotiation, do some background research. What are other

companies paying people in your position? Check sites such as,, and to get a feel for the market. Look at surveys conducted by your professional


• Step 3: Build your case.

o How important are you to the organization? How have you contributed? Perhaps you

contributed by increasing sales, winning over angry customers, getting feuding team

members to cooperate, and so on. Make a list of your contributions. Be sure to focus on the

contributions that your boss values most. Is it getting recognition for the department? Easing

workload? If another employer has shown interest in you, mention that as a fact. However,

don’t use this as a threat unless you’re prepared to take the other offer. Mentioning interest

from another employer gets the boss to think, “If I don’t give this raise, I may lose the

employee.” (By the way, if you don’t feel you have a strong case for your raise, perhaps this

isn’t the time to ask for one.)

• Step 4: Know what you want.

o Set your target salary goal based on your research and the norms of what your organization

will pay. Now ask yourself, if you don’t get this figure, would you quit? If not, are there other

alternatives besides a salary increase that you’d consider? For example, would you accept a

higher title? More vacation time? Paid training to learn a new skill? Flexible hours?

• Step 5: Begin assertively.

o Start the discussion on a strong but friendly tone. “I think I’m worth more than I’m being

paid.” List the ways you’ve contributed to the company.

• Step 6: Don’t make the first offer.

o Let your boss name the figure. You can do this by asking, “How much of a raise could you

approve?” However, if the boss insists that you name a figure, ask for the most that you can

reasonably expect to get. You want to be reasonable, but you need to allow room to make a

concession. Your boss will assume your opening number was high and will offer you less, so

asking for the actual figure you want may leave you feeling disappointed.

o If the boss opens with, “The salary range for this position is $66,000 to 78,000,” ask for the

high end. If your goal was higher than that range, challenge the range by explaining how you

are an exception and why you deserve more.

• Step 7: Listen more than talk.

o You’ll learn more by listening rather than talking. The more you listen, the better the boss will

feel about you—people tend to like and trust people who listen to them.

o If you can’t get a raise now, get your boss to agree to one in a few months if you meet agreed-

upon objectives.


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