The user experience design industry is still rather young. As such, there’s a good chance that you’re relatively new to the world of business – perhaps you are working in your first job after college, or maybe you are a recent graduate, on the hunt for that first exciting opportunity.
If this is the case, you may not yet have much practice with one of the more difficult aspects of professional life – salary negotiations.
When it comes to asking for more money, even the most tenured employees likely feel some twinge of dread and anxiety. And it’s often for a very simple reason – talking about money is usually awkward, and in some cases conversation can become contentious or heated, particularly if you feel you are being underpaid.
Just because it’s a difficult topic, however, doesn’t mean it should be avoided. In fact, asking for more money is often the only way that you will get more money – don’t let fear get in the way of your professional progress.
However, desiring a raise doesn’t mean you should just barge into your boss’s office and start making demands. Negotiating salary, much like a job interview, is a delicate dance, and there are many things to keep in mind in terms of what you should and shouldn’t do.
Eager to learn more? We have a break down of some tips to keep in mind, before and during that all important conversation:
1. Understand how much you are worth
It is important to go into a salary negotiation with a clear understanding of how much your services are worth to your organization, an article from The Muse explained. This means conducting some research – what is the median salary for your job in your city and state? Are you close to that? Do you get paid less, or perhaps more?
This is the best way to see how your salary compares with industry norms and the kind of money you should be making. If you are being underpaid, citing average salary statistics for your role is often an important component of the case you make for a raise.
It’s also important, however, to supplement the discussion with evidence of your particular value to the company. If you left, would valued clients who love you work follow you elsewhere? How much would it cost to rehire for your position? This is crucial information to have, as you can detail in concrete terms just how much your company needs you.
CIO interviewed a managing partner, Elaine Varelas, who works for Keystone Partners. She elaborated on the importance of the above point:
“Every role can be quantified by some calculation; number of customers served, money saved, revenue generated, mishaps avoided, speed increased, satisfaction survey ratings increased. Be very confident about what you bring to the job and the financial impact you have in the company. Challenging yourself to do this will help you identify your value to the company and ensure you are compensated accordingly,” she stated.
2. Choose a good time
Picking the right time to ask for a raise is important. As journalist Alison Green explained, writing for U.S. News & World Report, your employer will be less inclined to give you more money, or perhaps even have the discussion, if you haven’t worked at the organization for long, or if you haven’t achieved a whole lot during your tenure.
The best time to ask for more money is when you are more established at the company and are riding on a wave of success – perhaps you were recently placed on a big new client account and received great feedback, or maybe you were able to impress a client with your skills, convincing them not to terminate their contract with your company.
In sum, ask for a raise at a time when you can make the very best argument for why you deserve it – if things have been quiet for you lately, or if you’ve been struggling, your boss will be less inclined to consider your request.
3. Provide clear examples
As outlined above, giving examples of your success at the company is often the best way to win your boss around. Varelas told CIO that it can be helpful to provide concrete evidence to your boss. The only way to do this is to collect evidence of your good work over a period of time – set up a folder and save important documents, impressive work and evidence of client praise in emails. This can also be a good way to gauge when to initiate the raise conversation – when you folder of accomplishments starts to get full, you’ll know it’s an opportune time for that meeting.
4. Don’t drop in unannounced
Asking your boss, on the spot, for a quick chat in their office is not an effective way to initiate a salary review – it’s unprofessional, even if the two of you are relatively friendly. Request the meeting ahead of time and mention that you’d like to discuss your recent performance and accomplishments.
This gives management a courteous heads up and time to prepare. Inc. suggested that it’s often best to save salary negotiations for performance reviews, which are typically set up by the company. If you don’t want to wait, however, send the polite email asking for a meeting.
5. Be calm and confident
As mentioned, nobody really likes discussing money! And fewer people enjoy asking for something, but that’s the nature of the game. Don’t let your anxieties or concerns interfere with how you conduct yourself. As advised by Flynn Health Holt Leadership Partnership partner, Diana Faison, in conversation with Harvard Business Review, it is crucial to be calm, confident and assertive, while also maintaining positive body language.
This also means refraining from getting irritated or upset. It also involves treading carefully when airing grievances. Never speak poorly of your coworkers or managers, and don’t comment on how much others in the company make, as it can sour the conversation. Focus on your achievements only, and why you feel you should be compensated.
Finally, as stressed by Green, do not threaten to leave your role if you receive a no. This kind of tactic not only creates a high amount, but it can also backfire spectacularly – sure, your boss may get frightened and offer you all the money in the world to stay, or they could just as easily call your bluff and show you the door.
Don’t risk it. If the answer is a firm no, respectfully thank your manager for their time and leave. Afterward, consider your options. As explained by Inc., interviewing with other companies and receiving an offer of another job could be a good way to sway your boss. In other scenarios you may simply have to play the waiting game – work hard, get more experience, and then return to the negotiating table later down the line.
6. Consider other options
Sometimes you may not get the raise simply because the company can’t afford it. This is often the case in startups or smaller-sized companies. In such scenarios, if you enjoy where you work and are happy to stay, consider asking for other benefits – compensation for travel expenses perhaps, or the freedom to occasionally work from home. It is also important to ask if there is the option for earning a raise further down the road, and the kinds of steps that you would need to take to get there.
Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, Kathleen McGinn, emphasized this point.
“Ask what tasks you can take on, what changes you can make in your job that would lead to that raise,” she suggested.