5 Tips for Negotiating Your Salary

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By Hallie Crawford

Dale Carnegie once said, "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, don't sit home and think about it. Go out, and get busy."

This advice can be difficult, especially when it comes to talking about salary and asking for a raise. Most employees need to get more comfortable talking turkey in any situation. Here are five tips that can help you conquer your fear:Do your research. Determine how much the standard rate is for your current position. This will help you feel more at ease when you meet with your boss. It will also demonstrate to him or her that it's not just about wanting more money – it's about the marketplace and your worth. Ask colleagues at other organizations similar to yours about their salary range. Talk to a recruiter to find out your worth. Review salary range research like that provided on websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed. When you do, be sure to search by location.

Action tip: Use websites that help you determine the median salary for your industry in your location, and talk to trusted friends in your industry.

Write down your accomplishments. Keep a list of your personal and professional accomplishments. Update this list every time you complete a project and receive kudos from a customer or supervisor. Write down exactly what happened: the skills you used, the specific outcome (quantify as much as possible) and any testimonials you can gather from those involved.

For example, someone who works in sales may sell more than their goal in a month. That person could mention that she used her organizational and listening skills to sell X items over the goal amount. She could also include any positive comments from customers.

Prepare your list of accomplishments, and present them during your meeting. Even better, present them as a short PowerPoint deck.

Action tip: In a separate document from your résumé, make a list of all your accomplishments at your current position. Take time each month to add to this list. Present that document to your boss at your meeting using the three steps above.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. When we get nervous, we tend to use expressions such as "just" and "only," which can minimize our worth and experience. Sometimes we look at the floor, because we are afraid to make eye contact. Or we start talking too much and minimize the power of what we are saying.

Prepare your words beforehand. For example, saying "I think I deserve a raise" can plant doubt in the mind of your superior, since you only "think" you deserve it. Replace minimizing phrases with more confident ones, such as: "I strongly believe I deserve a raise and have prepared reasons why in this document." This is a phrase that inspires certainty.

Practice what you want to say out loud, so it comes across naturally. Sometimes when we write something, it sounds more formal than it would when we speak it. Practice in the mirror.

A final tip is to ask for permission to talk, by requesting time on your manager's calendar as opposed to demanding it. However, when you enter the meeting, be assertive about what you want to say. Have a professional manner, too, meaning you use a calm tone, speak deliberately and think through what you want to say rather than blurt things out.

Action tip: Ask a friend or family member to listen to your pitch for a raise. Ask him or her to point out any minimizing expressions – verbal and nonverbal.

Dress for the job you want. While you may not always feel confident on the inside, you can show confidence on the outside with your clothes. Dressing like a confident person will help you feel more confident.

My mother always says, "Dress for the job you want – not the job you have." While dress codes vary depending on the office or career path, be observant. How do your superiors or successful role models in your organization dress? Use clothes that tell your boss you want to be there, whether it be with a well-tailored suit in a more professional dress code setting or a polished pair of jeans in a more informal environment. When in doubt, err on the side of being more formal than the norm, and always wear something that makes you feel good as well.

Action Tip: Wear an outfit that makes you feel confident, making sure it reflects the salary you will be asking for. This goes for men and women alike.

Close the loop. No matter what the end result of your meeting, thank your boss for his or her time. This will leave the door open for further conversations. And don't walk away with the issue hanging. Determine the next steps, even if you have to ask for them. (Many people forget this step.) Schedule a follow-up discussion right then and there, or set up a time frame when you can follow up.

Action tip: Don't leave the ball in your boss's court. Determine your next steps and follow-up action items before you leave the room.

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