SMITH BRAIN TRUST — The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average U.S. worker received a 2.5 percent pay raise in 2015, the biggest such increase since the Great Recession. Considering U.S. inflation during the same period, that barely covers the cost of living. Pursuing a real raise — something that would grow your purchasing power — can be daunting. Senior associate dean Joyce E.A. Russell at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business contributed to a recent MoneyGeek.com Step-by-Step Guide to Negotiating for the Pay You Deserve. Russell, a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist, elaborates on potential mistakes connected to asking for a pay raise and negotiating salary:
1. Fearing the Ask. “Most people do not like to deal with conflict, and negotiation is all about conflict — it’s about people saying no to you,” Russell says. Many workers find it easier to simply quit for another job. “Bosses often will say, ‘I would have done something if I had known.’”
2. Neglecting Your Homework. Market research can prove whether one is underpaid. Workers can seek and document information about what others in their position make, and in the process identify unique skills, expertise and client relationships that they bring to the company.
3. Getting Nervous. Talking too fast, failing to make eye contact and other signs of nerves will undermine a pitch. Projecting confidence is key.
4. Not Rehearsing. Russell advises scripting your talking points, then acting out the conversation with a friend or coach who will raise anticipated counterpoints. “Practice with somebody who’s going to challenge you, and not be super easy.” Don’t just memorize the script, and remember body language, too.
5. Giving Up Too Easily. Workers often ask the boss for a raise, and then fail to follow up. On the other hand, polite persistence wears down resistance. Follow up if a couple weeks go by without a response.
6. Not Asking Questions. When a boss doesn’t agree to a raise, find out why, Russell says. A nonconfrontational way to probe is: “Can you help me understand why this is a problem?”
7. Focusing on the Wrong Reasons. Leave your personal life out of your pitch. “Nobody cares about your needs,” Russell says. “They just want to know, logically, what the market is for your position.” Focus on what you bring to the table, and what fair compensation is for your skills.
8. Not Having a Plan B. If "no" is the response, other ways to a raise can include moving up the date of the next performance review or proposing to set a date to readdress the issue. Consider alternative negotiating points, including time off, bonuses, working hours, telecommuting, training costs and job responsibilities.
9. Naming a Number First. Prepare to politely stall when a hiring manager asks right away how much you currently earn. “From an applicant’s standpoint, that’s not the right time to get into it,” Russell says. “If your numbers are too high, they rule you out. And if your numbers are too low, they use that against you later. It’s really in your best interest to start salary negotiations after you’ve gotten a written offer.”
10. Having Only One Offer. Having multiple offers is ideal when negotiating a salary. It gives candidates a feel for the real value of their skills, allowing a bidding war for their services.
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.