To their detriment, many people are still too polite when it comes to negotiating their salary. They wait for their current or prospective employer to offer them a salary, a pay increase or a bonus and then (in most instances) accept what is given, even if they don't agree with it. Not speaking up if you feel the offer is unfair is foolish. Negotiating only on what has been presented can also be unwise– if there is the opportunity to bring in new elements to the negotiation (such as asking for a sign-on bonus, additional benefits such as further education or even a golden parachute), then why not? Remember, there does not have to be a set time to raise the subject eg the annual salary review. You can raise it at any time, every quarter if you feel it is warranted.
Women in particular tend to fail miserably at talking up their achievements with their current employers. Achieving great things at work can go unnoticed. Those around you are probably also working hard and so as long as things are getting done, your superiors are unlikely to be overly concerned with how or who is doing them. Though it does not come naturally for most, it is important to learn to ‘toot your own horn’. Where possible, if you can debrief your boss on your success or provide written confirmation then this additional information can be invaluable.
Learn about salary negotiation
Though negotiation is something that we all do naturally in our lives, for some reason many of us find it difficult to negotiate when it comes to our salaries. Therefore, it is not a case of not possessing good negotiation skills; it is more an issue of the negotiation context and subject matter. For some reason we are uncomfortable discussing our salaries and what we are worth with current or prospective employers. People in general need to learn more about salary negotiation in order to become more comfortable and effective with negotiating our salaries. Read books on the subject, attend workshops, talk about salary negotiation with your colleagues, family and friends.
The importance of research & preparation
The advance of technology has made it simple and easy for us to access the abundance of free salary information out there. Search on Google and you will be provided with countless salary surveys broken down by industry, profession and even state and country. Alternatively, you can search on job sites to get an up-to-date feel of what the market is paying for someone in your profession with your experience etc. Another avenue is to talk to people such as recruitment consultants or contact HR professionals within similar organisations.
Prepare your business case
Regardless of the economic market, current or new employers are not going to hand over money to you without some sort of justification. Having a viable business case as to why you deserve X salary or why your salary should be increased is still required, such as showing what you have done to go above and beyond your existing role or where you have added additional value to the organisation.