How do I negotiate a raise in this economy?

Asking for more money in a down economy can be very tricky, which is why it is important to strategically plan out how you intend to do so. One of the most common complaints I hear from employers is that they are sick and tired of the sense of entitlement that their staff has. This includes, expecting more money. There is an important difference between expecting more money because you feel entitled to it, and approaching your employer to discuss the value you bring to the organization, which in turn leads to a well earned increase. So what does this mean?

It means that you should avoid going into your boss’s office and “demanding” an increase in pay because you are “overworked and underpaid.” Instead, you should wait for the opportune time where you have successfully completed a large project, landed a new client and/or saved the company money. Timing is everything! If you go into your boss’s office when they are having a bad day or the company is struggling, you will most definitely be turned down for a raise. Saying that you are struggling financially to your employer is not a good reason for an increase either. To your employer it may sound like you are not good at managing your money. It is also important to make sure you have strong EVIDENCE to make a case for WHY you deserve an increase. Always ask yourself, “where am I adding value to my organization?” 
I would recommend using one of the following opportunities to bring up the subject of a raise:
1) Opportunity: When someone else in your company has been let go and they are not going to replace that person. 
This is a great opportunity to show that you are a team player and offer to pitch in and help cover that person’s role. ALWAYS start by offering something WITHOUT asking for anything in return. Then, once you have been assisting with those additional responsibilities for a few months successfully, you can find a good time to broach the subject of increasing your pay to be commensurate with your new duties and responsibilities (and possibly a promotion down the road).
2) Opportunity: You bring in a BIG new account (or two). 
When you are adding a new revenue stream to a company or bringing on numerous new accounts, that company will typically want to make you happy. If you are able to land a big new account or two, this will provide a future opportunity to discuss an increase in compensation. It is important, however, that you wait until you have successfully produced results with that new account for at least three consecutive months or one quarter. This is critical to creating leverage! Bringing in the account is not enough. You have to show that you have been able to successfully manage and grow that account.
3) Opportunity: You came in below budget.
Saving a company money is always a great way to make a case for why a company should offer you an increase in salary. I know that in some cases, you will be penalized if you do not spend the amount you have budgeted for the year, but those are not the situations I am referring to. Overall, most companies are looking for ways to save money. If you save the company 100k over the course of the year, you can then bring that up during your negotiation and use that as EVIDENCE for the value you bring to the company and why you deserve an increase.
4) Opportunity:  You hit or exceeded your forecasted numbers or billable hour requirement.
Exceeding a goal or quota is one of the easiest ways to negotiate a higher salary. I remember when I first started recruiting and was consistently exceeding my goals by 30%. It was very easy that year to go in and make a case for why I should receive an increase in the percentage of commission that I was receiving because the numbers spoke for me. Typically, the end of the year during your review is a good time to address a potential increase.
5) Opportunity: Producing consistently better work product than your peers/having a great attitude.
I work with a lot of administrative professionals in my staffing business. I find that many of the administrative professionals I work with have a harder time negotiating an increase in salary because their numbers are not linked to billable hours or sales. The best way to negotiate a higher salary as an administrative professional is to work on all of the following:
-Always be on time and offer to pitch in/work overtime when needed.
-Always double and triple check your work.
-Offer to do things for your bosses and/or your peers that are not required of you, but that would be appreciated.
-Always have a good, team-player attitude.
-Work on anticipating your boss’s needs/don’t always wait for someone to give you something to do. Be proactive!
If you focus on those five components as an administrative professional, you will be noticed and rewarded. The administrative professionals who I have seen apply the above five characteristics typically do not even need to ask for a raise, they just receive it!
In summary, remember that actions speak louder than words and timing is everything when it comes to negotiating a higher salary!

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