The recession has forced thousands of professionals to forego salary increases in order to keep their jobs. Now with recovery underway and indications of hiring increases, those same individuals may find salary negotiation a growing possibility. If you’ve experienced a salary freeze, it’s possible that you may find yourself thinking about seeking a new, higher-paying job over requesting a salary increase

If you decide to maintain your current employment, salary negotiation or restructuring may be in order. Negotiating salary and benefits can be complicated. It can also be emotional, so you need to be prepared. Here we’ll cover the “3 Ps” of negotiations. With these tips and the strengthening economy, there’s a great chance that you can gain a higher salary or better benefits.

Prepare for Salary Negotiation:

  • Approach salary negotiation as an art rather than a fight. It requires a higher level of skill and patience than arguing or demanding.
  • Be prepared to ask for what you want: a higher salary, better benefits. More vacation days, or a different position are among the most negotiated topics. Remember: if you don’t ask for it, you’ll never get it. Stand tall, calm your nerves and go into negotiations ready to ask for what you want.
  • Arrive prepared and do your research. Employers review salary data from their competition and across the industry. Know where your request stands along the spectrum, accounting for your experience, education, professional training and relevant certifications.
  • Determine your ideal salary number, and then consider a “lowest-possible” figure. If the counter offer remains below your “lowest possible”, know what will your next action will be?

List your accomplishments and successes. This will help define your qualifications and back up your request for a raise. Did you bring in a big client, launch a successful new product or manage difficult projects well? Be sure to articulate your successes during negotiations.

Practice the Skills of Salary Negotiation

For those of us who only negotiate car and home purchases, practice is in order. Talk to a friend or family member about what you want. Have them play “devil’s advocate.” Work out what you’ll say, what you’ll leave out, and the structure of your negotiation. For this, it’s best not to ask a co-worker.

Proceed Carefully in Salary Negotiation

Successful negotiators employ important skills you may already have like active listening, diplomacy, creativity, and courtesy.

  • Strive to understand the other person’s point of view. Listening is as important as making your case. Hear what the HR manager is saying, you may hear clues that can boost your position or stance.
  • Ask questions, don’t assume. Going in convinced your employer won’t give you a raise doesn’t accomplish anything. You may be right – or not. You’ll only know by asking. You may discover that your boss is willing to give you a higher salary to keep you happy and motivated. You may find out areas to improve in order to get a raise down the road. Or you may find out there’s an indefinite salary freeze which could be what you need to hear in order to begin seeking employment elsewhere.
  • Be creative. If a higher salary is unattainable, what else would satisfy your specific needs? Increased benefits, higher commission, extra vacation time or the ability to work from home one day a week can often enrich your life as much as a raise can. Remember, in salary negotiation, everything is up for discussion.

Successful Salary Negotiation

Negotiations are successful when both sides feel good about the outcome: the classic win-win situation. Go in looking for a fight and you’ll probably get one, resulting in a win-lose or lose-lose situation. If you approach salary negotiations professionally, meaning you’ve prepared, practiced and proceeded with care and caution, you’ll impress your employer, boost your confidence and increase your odds of becoming a winner.

Jappreet Sethi

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