How to Negotiate For Better Pay and Benefits

Negotiating with your boss for a raise can be a terrifying thought. It’s easy to question and second-guess yourself about asking for higher pay if you’re never made such a request before. But if you take time to prepare your pay raise pitch to your boss, you’ll have a better shot of getting it.

Here are several strategies that can increase your chances of getting a raise:

  • Rationalize Your Reasons: It’s ok to be uncomfortable about asking for money, but you’ve got to realize that you’re not begging, you’re trying to get the better pay that you deserve. Once you determine how much you’re “worth” by evaluating your experience and skills, believe you’re worth it – otherwise you’ll lack the confidence to convince your boss.
  • Research Your Reasons: You’ll need to do your research to determine how much someone in your profession earns. If you’ve worked for more than a decade with market-leading companies, it’s safe to ask for 10% – 20% above the “average” pay for someone with your experience.
  • Don’t be Timid: You don’t have to accept the first deal your employer gives you, especially if the offer isn’t a good one. Just be frank and say it was “lower than you expected.” Remember, the first deal you get will usually be the lowest possible number. Seek a number between what you’re asking for and what your employer is offering.
  • Don’t be Pushy: The last thing you want to do in negotiations is show outright disappointment or be too aggressive with your employer. The last thing you want to do is give any hint that you’ll be less motivated to do your job because you don’t like the offer. Otherwise your raise request could turn into an appeal to keep your job.
  • Keep a Poker Face: No matter whether your employer gives you a favorable deal or a lousy one, keep your reaction neutral. Keeping a “poker face” will make it look like you’re considering all options – which might help you get an even better deal from your employer.


Negotiation Phrases to Use When Asking For a Raise

When it comes to salary negotiation, knowing what questions to pose to your employer can mean the difference between gaining advantage and having to accept whatever offer is given. Gaining a position of strength in negotiations can get easier by using some effective phrases.

Here are several to use when discussing a pay raise with your employer:


“This Job Is Wider In Scope Than I Thought”

Whether you’re applying for a new job or are looking for a promotion at your current one, chances are that your job scope has more than a few “extras” that can justify a higher salary. You can use that knowledge for leverage – you just need to look deeply at the job scope.

For example, a job application might be a combination of different job titles, such as a marketing manager position that has some public relations duties mixed in. You’ll want to question these “expanded” job scopes when you see them and bring up that extra duties deserve extra pay.

You can bring it up to your employer with the phrase: “I was thinking of a pay range of $XXX, and I’ll definitely be able to do this job for you.”


“What Do You Pay Your Best XXX?”

If you’ve been working at your job for a few years and have a solid portfolio, confidently explaining your case for a raise will make negotiations easier. Because if you’re confident about your abilities, your employer will be more likely to believe you are too.

When your current/prospective employer finally asks you about what salary you’re seeking, that’s when you use the phrase: “Well, what do you pay your best XXX right now?”

And when you get a favorable response, just respond (with confidence!) that you can do the job just as good.


“I’ve Completed Many Project that Prove I Can Meet Your Requirements”

Most employers have well-defined ideas on what they need in an employee, so you need to focus on what you can do for the hirer. Go through job descriptions line by line or ask about any projects that the company needs done – then highlight any similar projects you’ve accomplished.

It’s recommended to compile a list of projects you’ve completed into a portfolio to make the process easier.  That’s when you can use the phrase: “These projects are similar to what you need and had great returns. Here’s how I would handle your project.”

Once you prove you’re a right fit for the company, you’ll have greater leverage in negotiations.


“We Can Work Out Salary Later, I Want to Show You What I Can Do”

Sometimes, your prospective/current employer will try to “anchor” your pay range by mentioning salary early by saying “We’re only ready to pay about $XXX right now.” It’s a tactic that most people fall for and accept.

But you can derail this tactic with the phrase: “We can work out salary later, but first I want to show you what I can do.” That’s when you’ll want to show him/her your portfolio of projects you’ve completed, and that’s when you’ll give your salary number. Then smooth things over by saying “It’s a bit more than you expected, but I really look forward to working for you.”


“If You Didn’t Have Budget Constraints, What Would You Offer?”

If you occasionally freelance, chances are you’ve run into receiving low offers for your services because of “budget limitations.” If their offer was within 20% of what you had in mind, use the phrase: “If you didn’t have budget constraints, what would you offer?”

Once you get a number, think about what else you can throw in for “free” to get the original price you wanted.