How to Negotiate Your Salary or Raise Like a Pro

How to Negotiate Your Salary or Raise Like a Pro was originally published on Vault.

We’d all like to go on exotic vacations or buy a brand-new Ferrari. Some of us just want to purchase awesome collectibles that are totally not toys, and watch cartoons all day. The problem is these things all cost money, and with the cost of living constantly on the rise, we’re going to need way more cash to keep up with our sweet hobbies. Today, we’re going to show you how to negotiate like a pro, whether you’re still in the interview process or due for a raise with your current employer.

First, get into the habit of keeping records. Whenever you receive praise for the work you’ve done or make a measurable impact on your organization’s performance or bottom line, write it down. Alternatively, create a document in your phone, tablet, or computer. This may seem obsessive, but the information will be invaluable when you’re asked to prove your worth. You’d be surprised how difficult it can be to remember your accolades as time goes on with the gentle chaos of life keeping you in a constant state of flux.

Other things to keep track of in your personal records are any previous performance reviews, your attendance records, or whether you were promised a raise at some point in the past. If you’ve been consistently late to work or frequently call in sick, do your best to start coming in on time and being present before you attempt to ask for a raise.

Next, do your research. Keep tabs on the current salary rates for your job in your area. When asking for a raise, don’t be afraid to ask for a figure that is on the top end of the spectrum. If you overshoot and your employer counters, you’ll still likely get a larger raise than you would have if you tried offering a range. Speaking of ranges – do not, under any circumstances give a range when asking for a raise. Giving a solid number will show your employer you’ve done your research and are well informed. The worst-case scenario is you’ll get a “no,” and that’s perfectly fine.

These philosophies can be applied to the interview process in similar ways. Your resume will include all your various accolades and accomplishments; just make sure you update your resume whenever there is something worthy of note to add. Research the current salary rate for the job you are applying for and follow the same line of thought when negotiating your salary as you would when negotiating a raise.

Whether you’re negotiating for a raise or during your interview, take care to not come off as pushy. Instead, remain positive, maintain good posture so you exude confidence, and be kind, but firm. Giving the appearance of confidence, whether you’re super nervous inside or not, will show that you’ve done your homework and you know your worth, which brings us to the next topic.

When thinking about asking for a raise, you must first determine whether you are deserving of one. We’ve already covered lateness and taking too much time off, but it takes more than regular attendance to negotiate a decent raise. In the eyes of your employer, your value is determined by your ability to complete tasks on time, with accuracy, and in such a way that is beneficial to the organization’s bottom line, among other factors. If you consistently deliver and go above and beyond, asking for a raise is more than reasonable.

Likewise, when negotiating your salary during an interview, your value can be determined through your experience and accomplishments. If you’re new to the workforce or feel you lack the necessary experience and achievements to ask for a higher salary, you can always revisit the idea during your review.

Lastly, here are some things to avoid talking about when negotiating your salary or a raise: never bring up your life circumstances or expenses. Instead, focus only on your value as an employee and your contributions to the organization. Bringing personal matters into the conversation won’t do you any favors and at worst, can make you seem frivolous or even greedy.

Think of negotiating as a skill that can be built over time, just like interviewing. The more you do it the more confidence you will have, and the better the outcome will be. These types of skills can only come from experience, and you must use your own discernment when approaching your employer and asking for a raise. Eventually you will gain a better depth of understanding of your overall impact at work, and how to better read your employer.