Asking for a raise can be hard. But it’s important, as a disconnect in how an employee is being compensated and how they feel they should be compensated can lead to disengagement, frustration and low employee morale.
When to ask
Did you know that the best time to ask for a raise is actually when you first get hired, during your hiring interview? In most cases, by the time you get to talking compensation, the company has already spent thousands in recruiting costs, and they’re aware that their interests aren’t served by letting the position go vacant much longer. That’s why they’re hiring!
Further, companies are also hiring not just on the basis of the skill set on your resume, but also on the basis of a ‘cultural fit’ with the organization. If you get to that point, you can be pretty sure they want you on board. And chances are you’ve either been referred to them by a trusted source, such as a respected current employee (which has value as well!), or you’ve edged out a number of other competitors.
But don’t bring it up before then – In most cases, the best time to ask for a bit more money is not at the initial interview before they get to know you. Like any salesperson, you want to build value into yourself and your brand before you even get to the price. Make them want you first! Then talk salary and compensation. If you bring it up too soon, you lose.
What to do if they turn you down
If they turn you down, they run the risk of lost productivity from letting the position go vacant (or increased risk and liability, depending on the position and responsibilities). They also tie up hiring managers in future interviews, and may have to spend money on advertising the position again. That stuff isn’t cheap. If your contributions will be worth it (and you’d better make certain they are, over the next year!) then it doesn’t make sense for them to blow another $5,000 to $15,000 in recruiting costs when they can just split the difference with you!
Chances are good the hiring manager has a range of figures he or she is authorized to offer, and chances are also good the first figure they name is in the lower-end to middle of that range. They don’t want to flex to the upper end of the range if they don’t have to, but they will if they have a good reason to. Your job is to give them that good reason.
Pro-tip: Give the hiring manager lots of ammo to argue for the higher figure on your behalf, if need be. That takes preparation and salesmanship on your part.
Ensure you have a path forward
Negotiating your pay upfront is great. But how can you ensure, moving forward, that you don’t slip behind in compensation and your employer continues to pay you what you feel you’re worth?
Even if your starting compensation meets your needs, consider asking the following questions to ensure you have a solid path forward:
- What is the employee evaluation process?
- What are the specific criteria by which I will be evaluated, and how can I exceed your expectations?
- What is the typical career path for employees after 1,3 and 5 years?
- When is the typical salary review? What metrics are most important?
- What does the company offer in terms of learning and development, and what are the most valuable certifications/qualifications/courses/degrees do you feel I need to be successful in this role?
Here’s your end goal: You want to be so well-armed with your evaluation criteria that your raise will be all but a foregone.