Negotiating Salary in Your Existing Role (Part 1 of 2)

Deciding to Negotiate

Maybe this sounds familiar: It’s the hottest job market in recent memory and your company is growing. Since unemployment is at 50-year lows, new members to your team are being brought in at a premium in order to attract top-level talent. Your 2-4% annual raise is being outpaced by the market leaving proven contributors who have already been in the trenches to feel alienated, underpaid and underappreciated. After thinking about the salary for weeks or months, it’s time to ask for a raise. So now what?

Negotiation Prep Work

Never negotiate anything unless you are prepared to walk away. Before you go down the road of asking for a raise, you need to figure out what you’ll do if the conversation doesn’t go the way you want.

  • “Walking” in this case doesn’t mean quitting on the spot or doing something irrational that forces your employer to fire you.
  • Walking away here means that you are prepared to leave the company – on your terms. This means performing due diligence on your next role, naturally going through the hiring process elsewhere, putting in two weeks’ notice and avoiding burning bridges when possible.

Leverage in negotiation comes from figuring out the other side’s best alternative and making your best alternative seem as strong as possible.

  • The employer’s best alternative is usually to give the work to someone else or to hire someone to replace you. Before starting the negotiation, take a hard look at what it would look like at your company if you weren’t there and try to figure out how much pain it will cause your company if you move on. If the answer is “not much” then it’s probably not the best time to ask for a raise…
  • Your best alternative is finding another job; this could be another job that you have already secured an offer for or it can be based on the research you’ve done in regard to current market rates for people with a similar skill set. In either case, do your research before starting the conversation.

As part of your research, we recommend you work with a consultative recruiter such as RX2 Solutions.

  • A good recruiter will be interested in forming a relationship with you and won’t care that you aren’t completely sure if you’re ready to make a move yet.
  • For additional information about selecting the right recruiter for you, please see Why work with a Quality-First Recruiter

Scheduling the Conversation

Timing is everything. Find the appropriate time to have the conversation and make sure that the meeting is scheduled ahead of time. A good time to address the topic is during an annual or quarterly review. If your company doesn’t have regular reviews good timing might be after a big win or the completion of a successful project.

During the Meeting

Come prepared. Prepare everything that you can ahead of time from rehearsing what you are going to say, doing your research, and controlling the things that you can control. Clearly state your good reasons for asking for a raise. Keep the conversation focused on you and keep it positive. Come up with a business case or proposition as to why you deserve the raise and include successes that you’ve had (especially recent successes), performance compared to goal and highlighting the value that you bring to the organization.

Avoid bad reasons. Bad reasons include discussing what others are making or doing, threatening to leave or quit, or steering the conversation away from facts.

Next Steps

Clearly define the next steps. End the meeting by establishing a timeline for the next steps so that you can hold management accountable for a timeline for getting you an answer.

Get whatever is agreed to in writing. It doesn’t need to be as formal as a new employment contract (yet), but whatever is decided at the end of the meeting, it’s a best practice to write it down so everyone is on the same page. It can be as simple as an email to your manager recapping the conversation/next steps and asking them to confirm that everything in your email is correct.

Next Article

Part 2 of this article will focus on Negotiating Your Salary when looking for a new opportunity. If you believe you are at the point where are ready to start actively or passively looking for a new role, feel free to reach out to RX2 Solutions and we would be happy to discuss with you further. You can reach us via email at or 610.340.3490