The art of negotiating or rather good negotiation skills are key while working in any industry…and it’s a crucial one that you simply have to hone. Having to ask or negotiate a raise is always an awkward conversation and although nobody loves being in this position, there’s simply no escaping it if you want to be fairly rewarded for your hard work.

Negotiating for a salary hike is rarely easy despite the want or need for more money. It’s a sensitive issue that needs to be handled very tactfully, or it can lead to a fair bit of unpleasantness.

Feel like you’re long overdue for an appraisal and wondering how to negotiate? Then it’s about time you speak up. Don't let the fear of impoliteness turn you into a pushover who can be taken for granted.

Here's a couple of tips to help you with good negotiation skills…

1. Don't be afraid to make the ask
 

1. Don't be afraid to make the ask

If you feel like you’re due for a raise in your current role, hone your negotiating skills, take the first step and make the ask. If you don't proactively take the initiative, nobody else is going to bother. So set all your insecurities and awkwardness aside, because you need to look out for yourself first!

2. Make sure your timing is right

Negotiate a raise is never pleasant for employers, so it's essential you at least get your timing right. With bad timing, (for example if the firm is facing a financial crisis) you run the risk of being viewed in a negative light and hampering your chances of future recognition and growth within or outside the organisation. The ideal time to bring up the topic is during your annual performance appraisal since most employee salaries are revisited around that time anyway.

3. Have a figure in mind and then quote higher
 

3. Have a figure in mind and then quote higher

Before bringing up the topic of a raise, it is imperative to have a clear idea about what it is you're looking for. If it’s more money, then how much? If it’s more perks, then what specifically? Ask yourself these questions before entering that room. It’s usually better to have an exact number in mind so there’s no room for ambiguity in terms of your expectations. Remember to always quote higher than what you want because there will definitely be some amount of resistance from the appraiser and then put your negotiating skills to use. And refrain from providing a range of expected salary…that only shows that you’re willing to concede and the person you’re negotiating with will immediately jump to the smaller number.

4. Do your research before approaching the concerned person

Negotiating a pay rise is primarily about gauging your worth. Make sure you have a good idea of what you should be asking for before speaking to the concerned person about your raise. You can do your research by consulting with industry recruitment professions, speaking to friends and peers working in similar industries and roles or by surfing the internet for surveys and case studies.

5. Highlight your achievements
 

5. Highlight your achievements

That raise won't come easy, you have to show that you've earned it. Prove your value to the company by highlighting your skills and achievements so far. Include quantifiable results of projects you’ve worked on with different teams and your relationships with key people. You need to find a way to set yourself above what your contemporaries are doing.

6. Justify the urgency of your ask

Request for a raise is the ultimate nightmare for any Human Resources representative and they’ll try their hardest to sweet talk you into delaying the gratification you deserve. Therefore you need to build an iron-clad case about why you deserve a raise right now. If you feel like your salary is lower than the industry average for your role, this is the ideal time to bring it up…and make sure to back it up with empirical evidence.

7. Be open to discussing more than just money
 

7. Be open to discussing more than just money

Very often, office politics and organisational hierarchy get in the way of fair compensation for high-performing candidates. This puts management in a tough spot and even though they may think your ask is justified, they might not be able to oblige. In such situations, there are other elements of compensation (apart from salary) that can be explored if you're open to them. These can include additional paid leaves, a better bonus structure, maybe even a hike in designation. If money isn't a dire need for you at the moment, these perks could be worth considering.

8. Focus less on past performance and more on future potential

From a company's perspective, the only reason to be paid more is because you’ll deliver more in the future. While negotiating a raise, although it is important to highlight your past achievements, what’s more important is to focus on how much more you can contribute in the future and continue to be a valuable asset to the company. Talk about your future plans, maybe even have a growth strategy in place…you quite literally need to sell yourself as an investment.

9. Be prepared for resistance and negotiation
 

9. Be prepared for resistance and negotiation

Your appraiser will never readily agree to your ask, no matter how good your performance has been. So be mentally prepared for some resistance and make sure to quote a higher amount to ensure sufficient wiggle room. Before entering into the discussion, be clear with yourself on what your boundaries are and the scope for flexibility you’re willing to allow. Your employer will always try and hold you at the lowest possible rate so make sure to do your part to ensure you both arrive at a mutually agreeable package by the end of the discussion.

10. Focus on your value to the firm and not on your personal reasons

While personal responsibilities like (new mortgage payments, college tuition, etc.) may be the actual reasons why you need the extra cash, emphasizing on your personal problems is not an ideal way to negotiate for a raise. While the company representative may empathize with you, they're not running a charity, and you’re much more likely to succeed in your quest for a raise by focusing on your professional accomplishments during your tenure in the company.

11. Take some time, evaluate and then make a decision
 

11. Take some time, evaluate and then make a decision

After the negotiation, it’s always polite to close the conversation on a positive note; irrespective of whether it went in your favour or not. Once the company makes you an offer, don't feel pressured to give them an answer immediately. It’s perfectly alright to take some time (but not too long either) to think about your options depending on how close the offer is to what you asked for. Even if the offer is perfect…take at least a day to revert. It’s never a good idea to look too eager. On the other hand, if you're not happy with the offer you broadly have two options — either you start looking out for other opportunities or wait till the next appraisal cycle, build on your case and try again!

12. Feel free to counter, but don’t threaten

Asking for a raise can be quite a sensitive issue and needs to be handled with utmost pleasantness and professionalism. It's fine to counter an offer, but if you threaten to leave over it, even if you do get what you want, the process will leave a bad taste in everyone's mouths. Don't ever make the need for a raise in salary a condition for your continued employment. Engaging in hostile behaviour like this could have some very serious implications and brand you with a bad reputation that might hamper your future career prospects.

Try keeping these guidelines in mind next time you're due for a raise and you might just get what you want.

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