5 things to know when asking for a raise
Asking your boss for more money is rarely an easy conversation, but if you're struggling to make ends meet or you fear you're not being properly rewarded for the work you put out, the discussion may have to happen at some point. After all, it's hard to get what you don't ask for.
We spoke to two experts - William Castellano with the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers, and Leslie Beck of Compass Wealth Management in Wood Ridge - to gather the five best and worst practices of negotiating a raise.
1. Timing is everything
A performance review is the perfect time for speaking about a possible change in salary, according to Castellano. Otherwise, it could take management by surprise. However, not every company offers quarterly or yearly employee reviews. In that case, a worker may have to plan a sit-down on their own.
"I wouldn't approach them and say you want to have a meeting to discuss a raise," Castellano said. "I would really look to sit down to see how you're doing, and then be prepared in that meeting to make your case."
2. Be cool, calm and collected
It would be safe to say that a confident, well-worded employee would have a better shot at negotiating higher pay than a worker who's shaking and struggling to form a coherent sentence.
"If you're really nervous about it, all that I can suggest that you do is practice," said Beck. "Practice with your spouse. Practice with a friend. It's not crazy at all to stand in front of your mirror to practice what you're going to say and how you're going to say it."
In a PayScale survey released this year, 57 percent of respondents had never negotiated for a higher salary. Nearly half of that group said they'd be too uncomfortable doing so.
3. Never show your hand
The most sensitive piece of the discussion is the number itself, whether it be a dollar amount or a percentage. According to Castellano, employees should let their boss/company make the first offer. Then, if you're unhappy with the initial offer, voice your concerns without getting too emotional.
"It makes no sense to argue," Castellano said. "You still want to keep it at a very professional level."
4. Avoid foolish remarks
Calling it the "atomic bomb" of salary negotiations, Beck said workers should never threaten to leave without having a solid job or offer to back up that claim.
Also, it most likely won't help to compare yourself to other individuals. "Sally" makes what she makes for a reason, and you make what you make for a reason.
"Employers do not like the fact that employees talk to each other about how much they make," Beck said.
5. Show what you're worth
The ultimate point is to demonstrate your value to the company and why you deserve more compensation.
Share the "résumé" you've produced while working with the company. If you've added to their bottom line, prove it.
"If you do your homework and really feel comfortable with what you've done and how you've helped this company succeed, that's the real argument that you want to make," Castellano said.
"The more that you can point to actual results, the better off you're going to be," Beck added.
Statistics from the federal government may be able to help you determine an estimate on how much money you should be earning, based on occupation and geographical location.