You know your worth, and you know what you need financially to meet your goals. Now it’s time to take that knowledge to your employer (or potential employer) and use it to negotiate a better salary.
For most of us, this isn’t as easy as saying, “I want higher pay, and here is why I deserve more money.” It sounds simple, but there’s a psychological part to it that makes us uncomfortable.
Part of it is that we don’t like talking about our finances. It’s a common thought that discussions about money are “supposed to be” done behind closed doors with your partner.
But it’s also because many of us have been raised in a society where we’re not supposed to brag. Asking for more money because of our skills and talents kind of feels like, well, bragging.
The good news is that the same science analysis that explains why we have a hard time talking about money also teaches us how to do it.
These seven scientifically proven tips will help you break through your mental obstacles and negotiate a higher-paying salary.
1. Have Consistent Confidence
Confidence is the key to getting ahead in every aspect of life. But there’s a difference between confident and conceited. When you’re confident, you know what you are good at. Conceit and arrogance mean you make sure other people know, too.
If you’re interviewing for a position, confidence should be the defining trait you show from the very first interaction. You know that you have what it takes to do the job, but you’re not arrogant about it.
However, if you’ve already been on the job and confidence hasn’t exactly been your strong suit, wait to ask for a higher salary until you can do so with self-assurance. Keep on building your confidence in the meantime.
2. Know What You Bring to the Table
If someone were to ask you to list your areas of weakness, you might be able to go on forever. But if you were to name your strengths, what would you say?
These are two very common questions in interviews and salary negotiations. It’s important to know your weak areas so that you can work on them. You also have to know your strengths so you can remind your employer what you bring to the table.
What can you do that makes you different from others? For instance, if you’re a physician, do you have specialties, certifications, or training that not everyone has?
The skills could be on your resume or CV, but a verbal reminder during a salary negotiation is always a good idea.
3. Set Realistic Expectations
Preparation is essential before a salary negotiation. Do your research on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor to find out how much people in your profession and area are making. Then decide how much you want to ask for and how much you’ll actually settle for.
If things go well, you’ll have a higher salary. But you’ll also need to have a back up plan in case it’s a hard “no.” Will you keep working at that pay rate anyway or do something else?
A strong back up plan helps you stick to your guns when negotiating. You know you’re not desperate. You have other options, and you’re willing to walk away.
Look at the job searches while you’re checking salaries. Are there a lot of openings you’d qualify for? Are you financially able to go without a job while you’re applying?
You might consider taking a job as an independent contractor. In the field of physicians and clergy members, this is known as working “locum tenens.”
There are a lot of benefits to this type of work, like freedom, flexibility, and the potential for more money. But there are some drawbacks, too, such as tax and benefit concerns. To learn more about locum tenens work, check out this article at Physicians Thrive.
4. Use Facts and Data
Use your past work history to highlight your value. Think about anything that is relevant to the company that you can show you’ve gone over and above on.
For example, if you’re a doctor, have you increased the patient load since you’ve been practicing at the company? How many new patients do you see each week compared to the average for the practice? Have the Accounts Receivable and profit margin gone up since you’ve started working there?
Know the numbers and have evidence to support your claims. You may need to get these from the billing department, but they’re likely available.
5. Study the Company’s Mission
Every business has a goal for its future. Some companies are about the bottom line. Others are about helping people better their lives.
When you know the core values of the company, it’s easier to focus your words and negotiation tactics. Hone in on things you’ve done and the skills you have that will help the company further its mission.
If you only talk about how much money you’re making a company that is determined to improve people individually, it may not help. That’s especially true if your people skills are lacking. When you know the business’s mission, you know how to prepare your speech.
6. Boost Your Skills
The more relevant skills you have, the more valuable an asset you are to any company. If you’re going to demand higher pay, what skills do you have to support that request?
Before you ask for more money, take a good look at your abilities as opposed to those with higher salaries. Do you have the skills they have? Do you work as hard and as long as they do?
If the answer is an honest “probably not,” take extra courses and certifications to boost your skills. Learn another language that’s commonly used in the profession you’re in or take trainings. Bring the best you to the table that’s possible.
7. Choose the Right Time to Ask
Have you ever had a family member or friend ask you for a favor, and you said no just because you were in a bad mood?
It’s completely normal and a part of human nature. But you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that during a salary negotiation meeting.
Never walk in unannounced and attempt a surprise coup. Schedule an appointment and let the other person know you want to talk about your current position and growth opportunities.
But if you go into that meeting and you can tell their head isn’t in it, save the salary negotiations for another time. You can always schedule another appointment with the reasoning that you have questions about your last meeting.
When it comes to money, the successful people “know when to walk away!”
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no, right? While this adage can push you into the door to try to increase your pay, the rest relies on strategy. These seven tips are scientifically proven to jumpstart your chance at successful salary negotiation.