Career Advice: 10 Tips to Negotiate a Raise on Hire

A friend of mine recently asked me for advice regarding her promotion. After being stuck in dead-end retail jobs since graduating college two years ago, she finally landed a temp-to-hire customer service gig. On hire, her boss informed her that if she were to be hired full time she would get a raise.

Two weeks went by and they decided to offer her a full time position. The HR department gave her an offer letter, however, she was shocked to see that the rate quoted did not include a pay raise (though it did add in benefits, which is a raise.)
In such difficult economic times, every company is looking to cut costs. If you accept a salary offered to you, a company is not going to say “we were low balling you, you’re supposed to try to talk us up.” They’ll give you whatever you’ll take.
The best advice I’ve ever received is that no one is going to take your job offer away if you ask for more money. The worst that will happen is they’ll say no, and you will then have to decide if you want to take the job at the quoted rate or walk. Likely, you’ll gain the respect of your boss for having the guts to attempt such a negotiation. This proves that in the business world you will negotiate on behalf of the company. If you’re good at getting what you want, you will probably also be good at getting what the company wants.
My friend was extremely worried about messing up her chances at being hired full time, so she almost decided not to ask for more money. Her offer was $31k, even though her research showed that someone at her level should make, on average, $38k. Starting out, you do have to be willing to accept lower than what you may think you’re worth to get in, but you don’t have to settle for a rate you’re uncomfortable with. Ask, and you – more likely than not – will receive.
These were my recommendations to my friend that ultimately resulted in her getting $4k more a year and a salary review scheduled in 3 months….
1. If your company has a separate HR department, talk to your boss first. Your boss should be able to speak to HR for you, and determine what your pay rate will be.
2. When talking to your boss, it is always wise to come prepared to discuss your contributions to the company or any previous work you’ve done that relates to what you will be doing for the company in the future.
3. It’s good to show “you understand” the financial situation of the company. One line I like to use these days is – “I understand the economy is tough right now, and it is such an honor to be working for this company. However, I do hope to be compensated fairly based on what I have and/or may contribute to this company…”
4. Don’t be afraid to high ball, within reason. I once was offered $40k for a job and asked for $50k, assuming I would maybe get a counteroffer of $45k. I was extremely shocked when my boss simply said “ok.” (I’ve also gotten a flat out “no” when trying to negotiate a $1200 a year raise at a different job.) Hiring is a complicated process but what’s most important to many bosses and hiring managers is to have the right people on their team. The difference of $5,000 a year may not mean a lot to a company, but it will mean a lot to you.
5. Be ready to walk, if you want to walk, or even if you don’t want to. Apply for other jobs if you have to. Make it seem like you can get something else, even if you can’t. You always want to seem like not only the best person for the job, but a person that the company is lucky to have. Of course, you need to follow up with proving this while working at the company once hired or promoted. Right now, you need them to know just how great you are, without sounding full of yourself. Just be confident – it goes a long way.
6. Think of your total compensation package and negotiate for better benefits (more time off, telecommuting days, etc) if the pay rate is set. You’ll be glad you asked for this later. Don’t let company’s fool you into thinking stock options are worth a lot more than they are. 401ks are only exciting if the company matches, and few companies do these days.
7. Ask for a 3 month review. This is especially important when you’re first hired and if you’re willing to accept slightly less than what you would like to be making. At a lot of companies you have to wait for a year before getting a review and the raise that goes with it. It’s fair for a company to want to test you out a bit before giving you a significant raise, but ask that your work be reviewed within a set amount of time (3 months) and make sure to document your work over that time period and meet with your boss in 3 months to get that raise you deserve.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve. I know, it’s scary to ask your boss for more money. As a shy girl (or guy), we’re likely worried about confrontation. We just want to be offered the things we deserve. Unfortunately, in the business world, that just doesn’t happen. Negotiation is expected, and you’ll feel so much better once you’ve done it.
9. Dress really nice (for your work environment) on the day you ask for a raise (and the days prior and after).
10. Be rational. You’re not going to get a pay bump from $30k to $100k in a year. Don’t ask for a raise every month. Use common sense and you may end up with some extra spending/saving money each year.
Do you have any other negotiation tips? Share them with your fellow readers of Her Every Cent Counts in a comment below.
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One thought on “Career Advice: 10 Tips to Negotiate a Raise on Hire”

  1. I have never done well on the entry salary – I don't know why I never ask for enough. However, what's worked best for me in standard raise reviews is spend the couple weeks (or months) prior working extra hard and talking a lot about your side projects. I talk about my horse breeding business, programming, blogging a lot – then when raise time comes they know you have the means (whether you do or not) to leave so if you're a great employee (you are right?) they'll find a way to keep you around.

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