$10K in a Day

Yes. You read that correctly. I helped a client increase their salary by $10,000 in one day.

I was thrilled to share this news with a close friend, and asked for feedback on how I should present this success in a web post. “It sounds like some sort of scam…Wait, did you actually help somebody make $10,000?” Not exactly the warm, fuzzy congratulations I was expecting…

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by my friend’s reaction. $10,000 is a lot of money, but when you get down to it, my client’s situation wasn’t all that remarkable.  It was a scenario that most of us have found ourselves in at one time or another. My client had interviewed for a promotion within their company, had received an offer, and was wondering if they should try to negotiate a higher salary.

My advice? “Ask for another 10K.”

In this specific scenario my client was moving into a new role, which is always the best opportunity to gain a significant bump in pay—but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way. For many, annual reviews are right around the corner, providing another perfect opportunity to negotiate a higher salary.  I know what you’re thinking: “Woah woah, I can’t do that. My raise is my raise.” I’m here to tell you that’s not always true.

Whether negotiating your salary in a new role or asking for a pay bump in your current one, there are three simple steps to making more money in a single day.

Do Your Homework

Preparation is key. Before asking for a bigger paycheck, you need to know what you reasonably can ask for. Find out the median salary of those in similar jobs in your area. Sites like O*Net OnLine (The Occupational Information Network) and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics contain an abundance of data that can help you discover what salary is reasonable for your role. Also consider checking local job boards (Note: do this on your own time and on a personal device—not a work one.) to see what companies in your area are willing to pay new hires in positions like yours. While exact salaries may not be posted, many listings will provide a salary range that can prove helpful. If your pay is below the median, or if you have multiple years of experience that would necessitate a higher pay level, you can use these as selling points later on.

Having general data is only one part of the equation. Next, gather data on yourself. My client had worked for their company for several years and had a long and well-established history of glowing personnel reviews and performance evaluations. These served as concrete and measurable proof that my client was worth the pay increase they’d asked for. Try to gather as much quantifiable data about your performance as possible. The fact that everybody in the office likes you is great, but providing objective proof that you’ve created efficiencies, or made (or saved) the company money is even better.

A note here: If you want to make more money, you have to first bring something to the table. Your presence in the company must add value. Showing up each day or doing the bare minimum does not merit a raise. It may sound a bit cliché, but the best way to get a raise, is to earn a raise.

Craft Your Pitch

So you’ve got a mountain of data to bolster your case. Now what?

While it may be tempting to triumphantly dump all of this information on your boss’s desk, resist the urge to play all of your cards at once. In my client’s case, the company’s original offer was pretty far below the median salary for the role in question. In addition, my client had discovered that competing organizations were offering starting salaries for the same role that were significantly higher. Since my client was considering an internal move, they were also able to gather information about the role that likely would not have been available to an external hire—which proved to be very valuable.

From their work in the organization, my client was aware that bad external hires and high turnover were areas of concern for the department that was trying to recruit them. Knowing that this was a very real and current issue, we decided that it would be beneficial for my client to highlight their strong work history with the company instead of citing salary data. By doing so, we aimed to convey to the hiring manager that my client was a safe, low-risk hire, and that these benefits were well-worth a higher offer.

When crafting your pitch, try to propose a solution to a current pain (like the cost and risk associated with high turnover). Or, speak to a company value. Some organizations want to be known for their high salaries, or some for the advanced knowledge and tenure of their employees. If either of those had been the case, we likely would have crafted a different pitch with alternate data to gain a higher salary offer.

Make the Ask and Get to Yes

The most difficult part of the process is also the most straight forward: Asking for what you want.

Much of the anxiety associated with making such an ask comes from being unprepared, or feeling as if we are undeserving of the very thing we’re requesting.  As long as you’ve followed the first two steps, you’ll be well prepared and can move forward with the confidence that you truly deserve what you seek.

After doing much research and crafting a solid pitch, my client was incredibly comfortable making an ask for what seems like a huge sum of money ($10,000!!). All of the facts my client had gathered more than made the case that the request was reasonable.

Practice giving your pitch before you actually do so. Do a dry-run with a spouse or friend. Ask for feedback. Have them help you to eliminate nervous words (“Umm”, “Uhh”, “Like”…) or habits (spinning in a chair, foot tapping, etc.). Work on presenting yourself with confidence, but remember it’s ok to be a little nervous.

To really master this process—always get to yes, even if the answer to your first request is “no”. Be prepared to offer alternatives.  If the salary you’ve requested is out of the range for your role, ask if a title change is possible, or if a position can be created that would better reflect your skills (this strategy is more likely to be successful if you are moving within a company or asking for a raise in your current role). For example, ask if your title can be changed to ‘Consultant II’ instead of just ‘Consultant’, and work with your manager to define the greater expectations of the new role.

One of the easiest concessions to request is a 6 month, or mid-year review with the potential for a pay increase. This is a very reasonable request when applying with a new company, and in my experience is almost always granted.

In the end, the hiring manager agreed to my client’s $10,000 salary increase without any additional negotiation. It’s important to remember that this win is not a result of luck. We didn’t have to coerce the hiring manager into seeing things our way. We simply helped the hiring manager to recognize and compensate my client for the value they were going to bring to the role.

The raise you negotiate for yourself may not be $10,000. It may be more—more is absolutely possible. It may be less. You might even negotiate benefits instead of salary (yes, you can do that too). No matter what course you take, know that even ‘normal’ professionals like you and me should feel confident in advocating to be compensated for the value we bring to our jobs. You don’t have to be a VP or CEO to do so. You just have to invest a little time in preparation, and have the courage to ask.