4 Tips: Negotiating for a raise

In today’s still unstable job market, it may seem even more challenging than ever to successfully negotiate for a salary increase.

However, you should remember that while many organizations have been running lean and many managers and their teams have been forced to do more with less for a long time now, savvy organizations are beginning to focus on retention efforts. This means that there will be a concerted effort to hold onto their key talent, according to leading career management services company Lee Hecht Harrison.

“The important thing to remember when asking for a raise is to be prepared,” says Keith Emerson, senior vice president and general manager of Lee Hecht Harrison’s Boston office. “The best approach is to plan very carefully for any objections you might encounter. If you go in from a position of strength and confidence and make up your mind that no matter what, you won’t come backed empty-handed, the fear of being told no will be eliminated.”

In this spirit, here are four tips for successfully negotiating for a raise:

* Identify three of your strongest accomplishments within the organization or areas in which you took on extra responsibility.

State clearly: I would like a raise of $, which will then open negotiations. Keep in mind, however, that it is not a good idea to suggest a raise without knowing the salary range for your position, industry and level of experience. Do your homework and be aware of your company’s policy on raises before you begin.

* Practice with someone else.

Having someone play the devil’s advocate will prepare you to think on your feet and anticipate any objections you might encounter so you can have your responses prepared. For example, if you are told that the company can’t afford to give out any raises at this time you might point out ways that you already have or plan to save the organization money and then ask when you can expect the raise freeze to thaw.

* If you are still turned down, ask how you might improve in asking for a raise in the future.

This ensures that even if you are turned down the first time, you are still gaining from having made the request.

* Remember that there are other forms of compensation other than money that can be negotiated.

Look into other options like flextime, career development, coaching and educational opportunities, which can further your career and increase your future contribution to your organization.

Having said all of this, remember some things to avoid will include acting entitled to the raise before making your case and threatening to quit unless that is truly your intention. “Threats usually backfire and it is much smarter to come from a position of strength and honesty when negotiating,” says Emerson.