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4 Things Not to Do When Negotiating a Raise

By Maurie Backman - Nov 4, 2018 at 5:18AM

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These mistakes could cost you that pay boost.

Though asking for a raise takes guts, it pays to push yourself outside your comfort zone and bring up the topic of money. An impressive 70% of workers who come out and ask for a higher salary are successful to some degree, according to new data from PayScale. Better yet, 39% of employees who request more money get the exact increase they ask for.

That said, the way you approach the raise discussion could spell the difference between scoring a salary increase and getting flat-out denied. Here are a few things you should never do when negotiating a raise at work.

Man smacking his head.


1. Go in without salary data

Throwing a random number at your boss is hardly an effective means of snagging a salary boost, so rather than just land on a figure you'd like to be making, present a number that reflects what you should be making. Negotiating a raise without first researching salary data is a good way to get yourself one giant rejection, so rather than make that mistake, invest some time beforehand in digging up some statistics. If you're not sure where to start, job site Glassdoor has a "Know Your Worth" tool that lets you research salary data based on industry, job title, and geographic location.

2. Catch your boss off-guard

A salary boost -- especially a significant one -- is not the sort of request you want to make on the fly. In fact, one of the biggest blunders you can fall victim to when negotiating salary is bringing it up to your boss in passing at the watercooler, or in the elevator when you're both on your way out the door. You'll need to present a clear, compelling case for a raise if you want your manager to consider one, so to that end, schedule a meeting with your boss and make its subject matter clear from the get-go. This way, your manager won't feel ambushed and will be more receptive to that conversation.

3. Get emotional

Being dissatisfied with your earnings is frustrating, but letting your emotions get the better of you can derail an otherwise productive salary negotiation. Before you go into that meeting, take some time to practice breathing exercises, get some fresh air, or do whatever it'll take to keep you from losing your cool at the worst possible time. The more professional you are when presenting your argument, the more likely you are to get your boss to see things your way.

4. Use personal hardships as the basis for your request

Maybe you just had a baby, bought a new house, or encountered a costly vehicle repair. While those things may have brought forth some financial challenges, the reality is that they have nothing to do with your performance at work. In fact, bringing up personal hardships as a means of justifying a raise is a good way to turn your manager off, so rather than attempt to guilt your boss into giving you a pay boost, focus on the ways you add value to your company instead. Maybe you possess certain skills that your peers don't, or you're that person who's often called upon to log on late at night to fix the tech emergencies that inevitably arise. Talking up your job-related contributions is far more effective and, frankly, appropriate, than introducing personal money problems into the mix.

We all want to make more money at work, but there's a right way and a foolish way to go about it. Avoid these mistakes, and with any luck, your paycheck will grow following that tough but necessary conversation.

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