Is It Time to Negotiate a Higher Salary?
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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If you’ve already cut down on weekly beauty regimens or totally cut off the luxury of cable and still don’t feel a little relief, then the problem may not be your “outgo,” but your income. The formula for financial success is the highest income you can achieve coupled with the lowest expenses you can maintain for your personal standard or quality of life.

Instead of trying to come up with a side hustle, you may want to create additional income on the same job by negotiating a higher salary. Disclaimer: If you are on your 3rd warning for coming into the office late, submitting incomplete work or anything that you know in your soul is workplace suicide, this information will not help you.

But, if you’ve been on your game, ask yourself these questions in order to prepare for your salary negotiation.

1. Why now? In order to create a good game plan, you have to understand the “why” behind what you are doing or your efforts will be scattered and emotional. Ask yourself plenty of questions to get to the root of why you want, need or deserve a raise or promotion. The fact that you’re behind on bills could be a motivation, but that won’t be enough to sway your superiors. Is there a position coming available that you truly qualify for? Are you hoping that you can have a position created around any extra duties you are already performing? As you continue, the other steps will also help generate your “why?”

2. Why are you valuable? No team wants to lose their most valuable player. Be crystal clear about what qualities you bring to the table and articulate them effectively. You don’t want to come off cocky, but you do want to toot your own horn when and where appropriate. Create a “Brag Folder” with a running list of your professional accomplishments and remember that nothing is too small. Know current statistics on your work. Quantify your successes by cost savings, increased productivity and overall contribution to the company.

Don’t just say you hit your annual goal by October. Instead, highlight that you are at 125% of your goal and counting. Now that’s value when others are struggling to hit 70 percent!

3. Where’s your research? You have to know as much as you can about the pay scale of the company, as well as of the industry. Check out sites like or which have collected salary and career data from millions of people across thousands of industries to give you accurate salary averages narrowed down to your metropolitan area. If you are maxed out for your title, then the reality is that it may be time to go after another position. If you haven’t hit the ceiling, then you’re stockpiling serious ammunition!

4. Who should you talk to? In some workplace environments there’s only one manager, but other companies are layered with pretty intense chains of command. While you might think it makes sense to go straight to your supervisor, remember that although they may adore you, they likely don’t control the budget. It could very well make sense to speak with your Human Resources department first.

They might be able to give you helpful tips on best practices for increases or promotions to occur. Remember, this is not an opportunity to complain about how overworked and underpaid you are. As much as HR is supposed to be confidential, the reality is that people talk. So don’t let something negative get back to your manager before you have a chance to present your thorough and well researched case.

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