8 Tips to Get the Salary You Want

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Apr 01 2019 08:54 AM | Updated as of Apr 01 2019 04:46 PM

MANILA -- Over 300,000 graduates from colleges and universities across the country will be looking for work this year. There are many things they need and want to know as they begin their job search, and top of the list is how to negotiate for the pay they deserve.

Let’s face it: you could already be employed, maybe even re-entering the workforce after a break, and this topic will still be relevant to you.

What is it about the "salary talk" that makes it so difficult? How do you know if you are asking for too much, or not pushing enough? Then there’s the nagging suspicion that others are getting paid better for doing less work. 

Nobody wants to be paid less than they deserve, and to help you climb the pay ladder, consider these eight suggestions. 

1. Do your homework. Just because you are no longer in school does not mean no more assignments. When it comes to salary negotiations, you need hard facts to help you with your arguments. Find out how much is earned in comparable positions at other companies. When you know what the pay scale in your industry looks like, you will know if you need to ask for more, and if yes, how much.

2. Timing is everything. When I was a fresh graduate. I was in a hurry to land a job and took the first offer that came my way. I was thinking, I will ask for a pay raise after I have shown them what I can do. Boy, do I regret that. The best time to ask for the salary you want and deserve is when the company makes you an offer. After that, your chances realistically diminish over time. 

If you are already working, consider when your company usually conducts a salary review. Is it before or during performance appraisals? How about around annual budget preparations? Make sure to put in your request during these times so they can consider your request around their people and financial planning.

3. Ask or you’ll never know. For the first decade of my working life, I never asked for a salary increase. I knew my boss liked my performance, and I assumed she would take care of me. Maybe she did but I shouldn’t have left it all to her. If I could go back in time, I would kick my younger self for this. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know if you could have gotten a raise. Worse, you gave your boss an out – when you finally get around to asking or complaining, he can always tell you that you never said anything.

4. Get a backbone. Maybe you finally decided to ask so make sure you do it with confidence. Name a specific amount or percentage, not a salary range. Do not be apologetic and start with "sorry for asking…" or even offer excuses like "I know budgets are tight." Your employer is always ready with excuses, so don’t make it easier for him. Remember, you are supposed to be "demanding" a raise. If you go in with your tail between your legs, you have lost the battle and likely the war too.

5. Keep your personal problems personal. Years ago, someone told me to approach my boss and say I need a raise because I was pregnant with my second child and my husband is an entrepreneur without a stable income. I don’t know why I listened, but I can tell you that it did not work. Your boss does not want to hear that you bought a house, or are renovating, or paying higher rent, or have tuition fees to pay. She may show some sympathy, but it is unlikely she will give you a raise because you need the money. If you want higher pay, frame the conversation around the value you bring to your boss, to the team and to the company.

6. Do not take no for an answer. The top reason many employees do not ask for the salary they want or deserve is the fear that they will be told No. Yes, there is a 50-50 chance that can happen, and your mission is to manage the odds by presenting a good case why you should get higher pay. But if management says No, do not let that rejection get you down. Ask them for more – is it a No now, but we will fix it next year? Or ask what do you have to do to turn the No into a Yes? Or maybe it’s a No to salary but what about other benefits? If you are an asset to the company, they will do their best to keep you and turn that No into something that is more acceptable. But if they don’t value you, maybe it’s time to look for a company that will.

7. Show me the…perks. There’s more to life than money so if you are happy with your company, and the people you work with, do not walk away just because of the pay. I once worked for a company that was "hit" by a global recession so I did not see a pay raise for years. But I loved what I was doing so I mined the benefits available, and one of them was free tuition for graduate studies. Depending on my grades, I would be entitled to as much as 100 percent reimbursement. They also waived fees on my investments so I grabbed that too as I worked on building my financial portfolio. Get a copy of the employee manual and see what you’ve been missing.

8. Your business is your business. If you are planning to ask for a pay raise, you only need to tell your boss, and not the whole team. There’s a reason one’s salary is treated as a confidential matter – because there are crabs in every workplace and the last thing an employer needs is to manage everyone’s ego. Look at this way too: if your boss decides to give you a raise, he is unlikely to be able to accommodate everyone else.

A few years back, the Bureau of Internal Revenue published the top individual taxpayers in the country. I saw some familiar names from our industry (and even our company) and realized that my salary was quite a bargain. So I spoke to my boss about what I felt was the company’s lack of recognition for my performance and said I am due for a break and have decided to leave the company. I was not even negotiating; I was upset and did not want to be consoled. That was my first mistake.

Then a female colleague comes to me and tells me not to push, saying my "demand" was a negative reflection on me. Management will think you are only after money, she said. I was so shocked, I did not even defend myself and put her in her place, and that was my second mistake.

So when my boss came back to me with an offer (that I did not even ask for) and told me that I am a valued team member who should have said something sooner, I did not want to make my third mistake. I said yes and stayed because no use in cutting off my nose to spite my face. 

When it comes to "salary talks," emotions have no place and best to check it in at the door. Stay rational and focused on your goal.

Let me leave you with this advice from Devon Smiley, a negotiation consultant and speaker that works with start-ups, entrepreneurs and corporations around the world. In an interview with The Lily Lines, he said: "Be ambitious. If you don’t have any butterflies, it’s likely you’re not aiming high enough."

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.