For many of us there really is no comfortable time to talk about salary. Maybe some of us are born with natural confidence and can ask for anything we want. Well, this article isn’t for them. There are so many dynamics that play into the salary negotiation process. First, how much is my job worth in the market? How much am I worth in my job? How much is the employer willing to or capable of paying me? What am I earning compared to my peers? Employees fear being rejected when asking for more money and then possibly enduring a strained relationship with their supervisor afterwards. Women in particular face this challenge, but stayed tuned because that topic warrants its own article!

There are some opportunities that are clearly more conducive to a positive salary negotiation than others. I call these your “points of power”. Your first point of power is during the initial acceptance of your offer. Never again will you have more negotiating power for your salary than here. Once you accept the job and begin doing the work for the agreed upon amount of money, bargaining for more only gets harder. Not to mention, the amount you agree to start for is what your future raises will be based on. Now is the time to be self-assured and ask for what you want. Employers fully expect that there will be some degree of negotiation at this point.  They also expect that you will have a number in mind regarding your salary needs. The worst that can happen is that they will say that they can’t go that high, or will offer to meet you in the middle. And if they meet you in the middle, is that not a victory in itself? You still brought them up higher than the initial offer.

So, what if you’ve already accepted the job and you want to bargain for more? This can be done successfully. It happens all the time. The best opportunity for this is when your performance review comes up. This is your second point of power. Out of cycle raises, meaning those that are not associated with a promotion or performance review, do happen but they are far less common.

Here’s my three quick and dirty tips on how to leverage this point of power and gain control of the negotiation during a performance review:

    1. Keep a journal of your accomplishments. It’s almost impossible for you to remember everything that you accomplished in your job over the past year. And you should assume that it’s going to be even harder for your supervisor, who probably has several employees to evaluate. Keeping a record of your accomplishments will greatly enhance your negotiating power because you will come to the meeting prepared with your specific contributions in mind.
    2. It’s about what you achieved, not what you did. Employers care about results. This is true for when they are evaluating your resume and when they are evaluating your performance. Also, consider the fact that your boss already knows what you generally do in a day, so instead you need to focus on the return on investment (ROI) of what you did. For example, come to the negotiation meeting with specific numbers and examples. It should something sound like this: “Developed and launched a web marketing campaign that increased sales from $3.2M in 2014 to a projected $4.5M by the end of 2015.” Sounds pretty convincing, right?
    3. Do your research. Do some salary research on the internet or by asking others in your network.  There are sites such as and that offer free salary comparisons. While these sites are fine to use, keep in mind that they are not definitive sources and I would highly recommend that you look at more than one source for your information.  The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the Dept. of Labor are also reputable sources.

Just like when you are writing your resume, this is no time to be shy or modest. Alright, now get out there and ask for you what you want! If you don’t ask, the answer is….you guessed it! No.
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