Your boss is your enemy in a salary negotiation—he usually stands to lose by boosting your salary. It eats his budget, or he has to beg his own boss for extra money, which creates higher expectations for his work unit's productivity.
To win the salary battle, you'll need maximum ammunition and clever strategy.
First, check your ammo:
- Note the dollars you have generated (or will soon) for the company.
- Cite other benefits you have contributed. Focus on your boss's priorities: Getting credit? Easing his workload? Making you feel appreciated?
- Offer to change your job description so you can add more value.
- Assess your fair-market value. Ask peers in and outside your workplace, plus headhunters specializing in your field. Consult salary surveys by your professional association or on websites such as payscale.com, salary.com, and salaryexpert.com.
- Show interest from another employer. Consider putting out feelers for that purpose. Make your boss think, "If I don't give him a big raise, I may lose him."
Don't have much ammunition? Perhaps this isn't the time to ask for a raise. Not only are you unlikely to get it, but your boss may think, "What nerve! He's already getting paid more than he's worth."
If you do have enough ammo, craft your strategy:
- Knowing your boss, should you lay out your case in writing? Send it in advance?
- Meet on his turf? Yours? A restaurant?
- Conventional wisdom says you should try to get the boss to make the first offer. But if he is likely to lowball you or to respond well to your high offer, you go first.
- Focus on noncash benefits, like paid training, a computer at home, and more administrative support. They're usually not taxable, and they may benefit your boss.
- Rule of thumb: Reject the first offer; accept the second. After that, additional concessions are made grudgingly, so those extra dollars (usually insignificant after taxes) can create ill feelings or make you appear expensive when the boss is deciding whom to lay off.
- If you can't get a raise now, try to get your boss to agree to one in a few months if you meet agreed-on objectives.