Many folks are under the {incorrect} assumption that you have to acquire an offer from another company to use as leverage at your current employer. While the temptation to interview and look elsewhere is all too enticing, the external offer ultimatum is the fastest way to show your current boss that you’re not in it for the long haul. It plants seeds of distrust and while you might get the short term benefit you desired, the long term damage to your relationship with the organization is almost always not worth the instant gratification.  

Look, we all know negotiating a raise isn’t easy.  In instances where you love your job, it becomes a downright scary proposition. The fact remains, though, that it is a necessary skill to have in today’s business world.  Crafting and honing your internal negotiation skills are incredibly important.  They help us:


  • Make more money.  Raises help at home. They put food on the table, roofs over our heads and that extra money to stash away for vacations, date nights and college savings funds. Turning the job you love into something more lucrative for you financially via a solid negotiation is a win/win for all involved.
  • Instill confidence.  The negotiation isn’t always about money, albeit that’s usually where the itch comes from. A well planned and thorough negotiation shows that you a) highly value your own work and contributions and b) understand what will ultimately satisfy you in your job.
  • Practice the craft.  Learning how to negotiate is always valuable. When done right, it requires a thoughtful understanding of one’s worth, the ability to listen intently and empathize with the other side of the table.  


You’ll want to ensure that the timing is right when you’re ready to knock on your manager’s door. You can’t just waltz into the CEO’s office and expect a 15% bump in salary without a well thought out plan. You want to consider every nook and cranny of your situation, but it boils down to a few key variables:  


  • Is the timing right?  If your company is having a rough year or in the middle of layoffs, asking for a raise might not be a wise decision. It sends out signals that you’re a ‘me vs us’ person and demonstrates a lack of self-awareness. Conversely, if the company is growing/doing well, your chances of securing what you seek improves drastically.
  • Are you ‘crushing it?’ Simply put, do you know that your outputs have exceeded expectations? Was that conveyed to you recently during a review or a project debrief? If so, use that to your advantage! However, if you’ve been flying under the radar (for whatever reason…we all have been there), look at your next quarter or year as the proving ground.
  • Cost of living  The impact of rising real estate, goods and services, and rent prices are very real and very stressful. If your current compensation isn’t getting it done, you HAVE to ask for a cost of living increase. This is a tough one, because you’re asking to make enough to keep a residence and food in some instances.  Being open and honest about your difficulty, especially with a solid employer, is always the route to go.  Making a move may do more harm than good.
  • Market research Simply, are you making what the market says you are worth? Don’t rely on internet searches alone (aka the usual suspect list of websites)…ask peers. Ask recruiters in the field. Get a sense of what others in your role are making and take that data to the negotiating table. You’ll be surprised how much leverage you’ll have.


A combination of good, honest research coupled with a detailed list of your value add to your team/organization are the perfect recipe to obtain the raise you desire and deserve. Make sure you go into the discussion with an idea in your head of where you’ll bend and what is non-negotiable and make your arguments without too much emotion. Keep it simple, as they say. Finally, in this age of ever-increasing video, text and other options, make sure to set aside a meeting with your manager in advance. Make your ask face to face if possible.  


With the right forethought and awareness, you can get that raise you deserve without ever having to waste time interviewing at other companies.