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5 tips to negotiate for a raise

Five Tips to Get More Money at Your Next Job (Or Your Current One)

Here’s how to ask the right questions to get the raise you want

Tessa White, founder of The Job Doctor, spoke in a workshop at the WSJ Jobs Summit on Tuesday.


WSJ Staff

April 13, 2022 11:15 am ET

The hiring market is hot. If you’re a job seeker or employee who wants more—more money, more flexibility—ask now.

In many corners of the economy, workers have the upper hand. But do it right.

“Never go into a request for money about what you need and why. You have to come at it about what the company needs and why,” says Tessa White, founder of The Job Doctor, a career coach with 20-plus years of experience in human resources with startups and Fortune 50 companies like UnitedHealth Group.

There are at least 10 things you can negotiate in a new offer or at your current job.

Base pay is important. But there is so much more to ask for than just a higher salary.

A bigger bonus percentage, flexible work hours, the ability to work remotely, more vacation time, equity in the company, a cellphone or home office stipend or money toward continuing education and certifications are all on the table.

Think hard about what you want and try to negotiate for three things, not a dozen, Ms. White advises.

Keep in mind, companies are more likely to give you something that is free to them. For instance, a better job title doesn’t cost them anything, but could help you get another raise of $10,000 to $15,000 when it’s time for you to move on to your next role.

There’s a right time to ask for more money.

When hunting for a new job, don’t bring up salary during the initial stages of interviewing. Try to avoid specific conversations about pay until the end of the process, once they’re sure they want to bring you aboard.

At that point, you have the most leverage.

In an existing job, ask for more money when you’ve done something great, such as completing a project or exceeding a goal, Ms. White says.

“Money goes to those who ask, not to those who wait,” she says. “If you think that waiting in line for your annual increase is your way to get ahead, you are incorrect.”

Come armed with results. Even if you don’t work in a role where you have tons of quantifiable data on hand about your performance, you still need to demonstrate why you do the job better than others.

Defuse the tension.

Whether angling for a new job or asking for more money where you are, you really have to make a point to say, “I want to be here,” Ms. White says.

If you’re interviewing for a new job, you’ll have to discuss pay at some point, but you don’t want to get boxed into a number too soon. If asked directly how much you make now or what salary you are expecting, you can turn the question back to the hiring manager, Ms. White says.

For instance, you could say, “I’d really like to reserve the conversation in depth about pay until we get further in the process because there’s a lot of components of pay to talk about. However, let’s not waste each other’s time. I’m really curious. What is the range of pay that you’ve slated for the position?” she suggests.

If your desired salary is close enough to the range, say so. Then quickly pivot to talking up all the attributes you bring to that employer.

Have a game plan in case you get vague promises.

If you ask for a raise at your current position or more money while negotiating for a new job and hit resistance, try asking if you can be rewarded in two parts, Ms. White advises.

Half the raise you want could come immediately, and the rest could be tied to hitting certain goals in three or six months, she adds. If they agree, follow up with an email spelling out the details to help formalize the agreement. Use phrases like, “I just want to make sure I got this right,” and “Did I understand that correctly?”

“It has to be in writing,” even if only an email, she says.

Counteroffers are the fastest way to know what you’re worth.

A counteroffer is the fastest way to know your worth in the market and get a raise in your existing position, Ms. White says.

Some companies don’t like having to counter, but if you frame the offer the right way it will reduce the risks. When you bring up the offer, tell your manager how much you love working there and want to stay, but you can’t ignore this other offer. Ask if you can have a conversation about your career path and pay, and see if you can come to an agreement about a raise or a promotion.

“Don’t say, ‘Give it to me or else,’” she says. “You don’t even want to imply it.”

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