Negotiating 101: 5 tips on how to ask for a promotion or salary raise in 2021!

First of all: Happy February to you my lovelies! The first month of 2021 has already passed and we all know how fast the rest will pass before it’s 2022 already – but until then, we have another 11 months to rock this year! With the start of a new year, many have received a promotion, maybe even a raise in salary. A whole lot though, have not – and wish they did. Here is something I can already tell you upfront: if you won’t ask for it, chances are it won’t happen. If the company thinks you are satisfied with everything, why change it and why pay you more (which is more costly for the company)? If you want to see a change, you will need to ask for it!
In today’s blogpost I want to give my five main tips on how to best negotiate for a higher salary – aka more money – or even a promotion at your work in 2021.

Timing is super important
Firstly, I think it is of utmost importance not only whom or how to ask, but when you ask for a salary raise or promotion this year. There may be several times this year that you could or should consider:

Fiscal year end:
The fiscal year-end in many european countries is also the end of the calendar year. The fiscal year-end is used by governments for accounting and budgeting purposes. In the UK, for example, the fiscal year-end ends in April. Depending on your company set-up, you may have noticed that promotions are often made official with the start of a new fiscal year. If so, you should think about speaking to your supervisor about your promotion or salary raise wish ahead of time – say 3-6 months in advance. Also remember, with the end of the fiscal year usually comes additional work. Whether it is your supervisor, your boss or bosses’ boss – shortly before year-end people tend to have more accounting to do, budgeting gets overviewed and final numbers need to be collected and presented to the board. In addition, many people tend to take time off, such as when the fiscal year end is also the calendars’ year-end and people are off for their Christmas holidays. In this case, remember that most people do not need extra work just before they head out on vacation and thus asking for something impactful, such as a salary raise or promotion, should be timed well in advanced. If you are looking to ask for either (or both) in 2021, now it the perfect time to think about the timing – check your agenda for the year ahead and see whether you can fulfil your goals (or even supersede) them prior to speaking to your supervisor.

Service anniversary:
Service anniversaries are usually celebrated with a certain number of years: if you have been at the same company for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 30 years, .. etc. However, a service anniversary can also be seen as a completed (12 months) cycle and is always a good opportunity to ask for a salary increase or promotion. This way, when asking for let’s say a promotion, you can speak to your supervisor about that you have just passed your 2nd year service anniversary and all the goals you have achieved over these years.

Do your research and be realistic
Asking for a promotion or a salary increase should be placed strategically smart and often needs some research ahead of time. Even the timing can be influenced by your research – when do other employees usually get a promotion (is it the end of the fiscal year)? You should also try and figure out whether the company has implemented automatic pay raises (such as 2% salary increase yearly if 75% of your goals have been met the previous year) and whether asking is even necessary. Asking for a pay raise is always difficult and must be well researched in advance. If you are asking for more money, why is that so? Is another employee with the same title receiving more than you, are you being underpaid and can you prove it? Have you received more projects in the past years, completed them successfully but have not gotten paid enough for the extra hours? You should give good reason for what you are asking and doing your research already pays half the rent!
In addition, being realistic is super important. If you are asking for a salary raise, a few percent is usually realistic (except if you can argue why you should have a certain jump and get paid much more). In the finance industry, for example, you can expect to get paid a maximum of 20% more annually almost only when changing jobs – even better when the competition has asked you to join. You then have the power to negotiate on a broad level.
The same goes for asking for a promotion – be realistic about it. If you have only joined the company a year ago, you may not, realistically speaking, get a promotion after the first 12 months. Unless however, you have noticed that your job covers much more than your current title states – then you may have a chance. The saying goes that the smaller the company is that you work for, the higher the chances of a higher title. In super large companies with thousands and thousands of employees, the job titles are usually pre-defined and likewise how to jump from one to another (this should also be part of your research). Of course, you should also be realistic about the actual job title. If you have been an associate the past 3 years, you most likely will not become the CEO within one promotion and steer the company. Research what the next best, most compatible job title would be and make sure you can argue why you should receive it.

The power of silence
Ahh…… *pause* …. the power of silence. Have you ever noticed how when people negotiate in movies there is always a moment of silence and then one person states something powerful or a person then gives in? Well, its a tip I want to give you in real life. When it comes to negotiating, whether it is with your supervisor, your spouse, sister or friend, silence can be so precious.
Once you have listed what you are looking for (a pay raise, promotion or even both) and you have argued why exactly you should be receiving it, pause. Simply pause. Pausing gives the person opposite you the chance to re-think what you said, to consider your main points and think about how to phrase an answer. If you do not give them the chance, you may not receive the answer you are hoping for – or, you will receive a very short yes or no but no explanation. The less time on average people receive for an answer, the less they are willing to explain their answer to you.
Another reason why pausing is so efficient, is because it often makes people feel pressured. Think about it, when someone talks to you about a certain subject that requires an answer and opinion from you, and they suddenly pause and just look at you, you feel the urge to answer, right? Even if someone does not feel that urge, you can pretty much pressure them into having to answer – because in the end, no one enjoyed the awkward moment.

Picking the right battle
When it comes to negotiating you most likely have a list in your head with things that you want: a higher salary, a promotion, maybe a bigger office that seems to be free across the hallway, more flexibility in regards to your working hours, or working from home more often (maybe this is a post-Covid19 consideration). Picking your battle means prioritising your list and acknowledging that you may not get it all. See what is most important to you and lay the focus on that point – everything else should be seen as a bonus. Again, think strategically here. If you are looking to receiving a higher salary but your chances for a promotion are higher – look at the long-term perspective. A higher job title usually means more recognition, which often comes with more trust, more projects or tasks and can often lead to more money in the long run (especially if you are in sales and more recognition should lead to more clients).

The art of giving and taking
(This point is so important!)
Everyone loves receiving – presents, a praise, a promotion, more salary, a nice bonus, flexible working hours,.. you get it. But almost no one enjoys giving without receiving. When asking for a promotion or salary raise in 2021 think about what you can offer to the company; why should they listen and give you what has been asked for? If you are looking to get a promotion, make sure to list what you have done for the company, what projects you have successfully completed, how your work has helped the company thrive but most importantly, what else you could do for an even better company performance. If you know that the company is starting a big project and is still looking for people to oversee certain parts of the project (such as the budgeting or the timing), and a certain task is also a strength of yours, offer to help and take on that new role. The more you can offer, the higher your chances of receiving that promotion or salary increase. If your supervisor or the company does not agree with a promotion but still wants you taking on that job, try negotiating whether a promotion or that salary raise may be of topic upon completion of the project. Then, make sure to follow-up on that topic once you have successfully completed the job.
Extra pro tip: Make sure to get everything in writing. If your boss has shook hands with you and promised that pay raise or promotion, follow-up with a polite thank-you email and ask him or her to confirm your understanding. If you receive a confirmation for your promotion in writing, make sure to ask whether you should forward the info to the HR (human resource) department. Any changes, whether it is a raise in salary or promotion, should be acknowledged in writing and your contract should be amended accordingly. If you do not receive it in writing, chances are it won’t happen at all.
Lastly, if you get that promotion, make sure to update your LinkedIn accordingly and pop that Champagne bottle – you deserve it!

With that, I wish you the best of luck with your negotiations in 2021!
xo Laura Nanette

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