How Much Are You Worth?

By Catherine McNulty

July 14, 2015 4 min read

Everybody wants more money, but no one wants to ask. It's awkward, it makes you vulnerable, and what do you do if your boss says no? While there may never be an easy way to ask for more money, it's part of the business world. No one is going to advocate for you, so you have to learn how to advocate for yourself.

And this is something you can learn. How to do it? Easy, just follow these simple guidelines:

*Research

The amazing thing about technology is how much information you now have at your fingertips. Use it! There are a ton of online resources that allow you to look up the average salary and benefits for your position and those similar.

We live in a data-driven world. The more data you have, the better prepared you'll be.

The key is to not get overwhelmed by the amount of information. Use what works for you and your situation, and leave the rest. A lot of times, information you get can be contradictory. For example, some experts recommend asking for a specific salary ($54, 750), while others recommend asking for a range ($52k-$56k). Which do you think would be better received, given your circumstance?

Good research is crucial to effective negotiations, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to do it.

*Write It Up

This will allow you to organize your thoughts and be very clear about what you're asking for. Not only that, but if you're asking for a raise, it will give you time to reflect on what you've done for your company. A lot of times, small triumphs don't get recognized. Highlight what you've done, but be willing to back it up with proof and data. Saying you've saved the company money can be ignored. Having the numbers won't be.

Also be willing to express where you'd like your job to go and what challenges you'd like next. With more money and benefits come greater responsibility. Wouldn't you rather be the person who decides what those responsibilities will be, instead of waiting for your boss to dump new projects on your desk?

Remember that this is for you personally, not something you're giving to your current or potential boss. So be honest with yourself: What do you need? What are you looking for? If it's not cash in hand, what other benefits or stock options would you be willing to discuss?

*Know What To Avoid

The first thing to remember is not to take any of it personally. Yes, your stakes are very personal in regards to your salary, but first and foremost, this is business. Negotiations are by nature give and take. Odds are, if they give you everything you're asking for upfront, that's a sign you've undervalued yourself and you could have asked for more. By the same token, asking for too much upfront can lead to getting nothing.

Never bring up your own troubles when asking for more money. Everyone has expenses and problems. By framing yourself as needy, you'll look weak and like a whiner. Not only will that shut down most negotiations, it might make your boss question if you're the best person for the job.

*Practice

If you're not used to negotiating, find a friend or a relative and have them do a few trial runs with you. Not only will it help you work out the kinks, but also you'll get another perspective.

It can be difficult to find someone you trust enough to engage in those kinds of conversations. But it's well worth it if negotiating is hard for you. Try to find someone who has had success in asking for salaries and benefits.

If you have trouble advocating for yourself, pretend you're negotiating on behalf of a loved one. You'd want them to get the very best offer, wouldn't you?

*Go For It

It's time to fly, baby bird. You're ready for this.

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