When negotiating a pay raise, you want to make sure to not overstep your boundaries or ask for too much, but you also want what you deserve.

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Whether you just landed a new job or are a long-time veteran in your current position, you might find it intimidating to negotiate a pay raise.

You want to make sure to not overstep your boundaries or ask for too much, but you also want what you deserve.

Here are steps to make the balancing act easier.

Research

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Before a job interview or a performance review, research your position and salaries in your area. Look at sites such as Salary.com, Glassdoor and PayScale to see what others in your field and industry make to help ensure that your request for more money is reasonable. Be prepared to give a hard number when your supervisor asks what you want.
You may find yourself underpaid relative to your local counterparts. What if you’re right on par with the average salary? You can still ask for more if your work provides value to your company.

Timing

A first interview is not the time to bring up salary; wait until after you have received an offer to negotiate.

If you’re a current employee, wait until your performance review. If you work in a nontraditional workplace or do not have regularly scheduled reviews, schedule a meeting with your boss. Avoid busy times such as holidays or during stressful work events. Schedule a meeting well ahead of time; giving your supervisor notice can help both of you prepare so that you can set the stage and prepare to negotiate.

Practice and preparation

Negotiating requires a lot of practice. In rehearsal, go over:

• Your recent accomplishments, including specific achievements or positive events that you made happen (focus on how you saved the company money or generated more revenue)

• Statistics and figures that offer measurable success

• Your ideas for improved processes or procedures that saved time

• What you did above and beyond your role and how you look forward to growing with the company.

Practice in a mirror and later with a friend to observe you. You want to sound confident, self-assured and ready. Don’t try to memorize what you want to say; just familiarize yourself with what you will present.

Outcomes of your meeting may vary. Know how you want to respond if your boss says yes or no immediately, counters with a low offer or even offers more money than you anticipated.
If your employer says no, politely ask for feedback to understand why. Try to schedule another meeting for later. Find out what your boss needs from you to be willing to increase your salary. Ask, “If I reach these benchmarks and exceed your expectations, can we revisit my salary in six months?”

Sometimes the decision doesn’t rest with the person you speak with initially. Your company may also be dealing with a tight budget — and therefore a rejection is not personal. Your supervisor might also provide specific reasons he or she feels a raise won’t or can’t happen now. Take that as constructive criticism.

If you encounter a lower offer, negotiate. With grace and tact, state the facts on why you believe you are worth more. Avoid sounding like you are complaining or simply trying to get more money from the company.

Check your personal reasons at the door: It’s extremely unprofessional to ask for a raise because your rent went up or because you want a new car. State only reasons associated with your work and your on-the-job performance.

Think of negotiating as simply a conversation. Break what can be an intimidating process into small steps with the ultimate outcome of more money and getting what you deserve.