When asking for more pay or where your missing payment is, it can be tempting to share the intimate details of your financial life with the client or employer in question. But no one at the negotiating table or in the accounting department wants to hear about your fiscal woes. Your rent being due or your dog needing surgery will never be as compelling an argument as “this is the market rate for someone with my experience” or “if you don’t pay me, I’m taking you to small claims court.”
When talking money in a professional setting, always stick to the business case. Following are several scenarios in which this will serve you well:
Your payment is MIA. Freelancers and small-business owners know this dance all too well. When you’re not on a regular payroll schedule, honest mistakes can happen. But so can late payments, as well as clients who put off paying their freelancers and vendors as long as possible.
Once you realize that you’re not dealing with a mistake but with negligence, turn up the heat on the delinquent client however you can. Remind them of the contract they’re in violation of. Resubmit your invoice with interest. If the pattern persists, shame them on social media, have a lawyer pal draft a threatening letter, take them to small claims court — whatever it takes. But don’t mention your kid’s pricey college tuition. No one cares.
The salary you’re offered is too low. You may have just purchased a new couch or perhaps even a Tesla. But this has no bearing on what you can expect to get paid by an employer that’s making you a job offer. Your best bargaining chips are the skills and experience you bring to the table, how closely your experience matches the description of the job you’re accepting and what the going rate is for someone with your background.
If you’re unsure what salary a person with your talents can command in your industry and geographic region, spend some time on sites like PayScale and Glassdoor to find out. And if you haven’t already, get to know other industry professionals in the area. When negotiating a new job offer, industry peers can be your best sounding board.
You want a raise. Yes, many companies give cost-of-living salary increases. But often this just helps you keep up with inflation. If you want a raise beyond the typical 2 to 3 percent cost-of-living increase, prove why you deserve it. Have you taken on more responsibilities in the past year, voluntarily or otherwise? Are you managing more people and accounts? What big wins have you had for the company lately? How have you exceeded expectations? Again, familiarity with the going rate for someone in your role, industry and region will be a big help.
Feeling frustrated with an employer who’s been stingy with raises and bonuses is perfectly valid. But you’ll get farther by negotiating professionally and calmly, using your track record and data to drive the meeting, not your desire to buy a vacation home.