July 21, 2021

Post Pandemic Salary Negotiating

Salaries are climbing and employers are scrambling to fill open positions as the American Economy expands at a brisk pace. Now is the time to figure out what you are worth and perhaps ask for a raise. Now is also the time to consider if you are in the right place or if you should make a move while the market is exploding.

There are five questions you should be asking yourself before you ask for a raise:
  1. Can you show that you have consistently high level performance?
  2. Do you know what your real worth is right now?
  3. Is the timing right?
  4. Do you have leverage?
  5. Do you know how to go about it?

First, you need to decide why you deserve a raise.

You can’t just say, “I want more money” and expect results.

Start by making a list of why you deserve a raise. What accomplishments have you had since the last raise? Simply saying that you are doing a really great job is not enough of a justification. You need to give examples and details.

It should always be obvious that you are doing a good job. Keep your boss and your team informed about what you are doing. Think of ways to share what you are doing. It is good to be visible so others know you are good and about your successes. Give presentations about your work; always participate in meetings; take pictures of your projects and share them internally and on LinkedIn; become active in professional organizations; publish and deliver papers at professional conferences.

Second, you need to have a firm grip on what you are worth.

You should always know what the competitive salaries are for people in your field, with your level of experience, with your level of education and in your geographic area. If your salary is lower than what the market is paying for your skills and experience you will need to back up your request with data.

I love, love, love salary.com and O’NET.

Both sources provide solid salary information because the info is based on employer salary survey data for people who actually hold the job. Both O’NET and salary.com also provide excellent descriptions of specific jobs at different levels. When you were hired a few years ago, your salary was based on what you were expected to do with less experience, less training and perhaps less education. These job descriptions can show you what level you are operating at relative to what you actually do on the job now, and can give you an idea about what you should be paid now.

Companies need to keep up with the market rates for talent, in order to attract and retain good people. They also have to give you raises as your skills and expertise increase over time. If they fail to do so, they risk losing the talent that attracts clients and drives their company profits. Companies cannot deliver if they cannot retain the people who do the work. Period.

Third, the timing needs to be right.

Timing involves basic supply and demand economics. You are in a much more powerful position to ask for a raise when there is high demand for your knowledge and skills and the supply is low for people with your expertise. The harder it is to find talent, the higher the salaries climb. Right now there is a serious imbalance in the supply of labor in many fields.

The market right now is white hot. There is not a better time to negotiate salary or to negotiate for a raise if you have been delivering for the same employer for a while and the supply of labor is not matching the demand. Companies are growing and struggling to meet increased demand for products and services as a result of the post pandemic frenzy. In addition, the pandemic has profited many well-positioned companies greatly. You want to share in those profits. Your company should be sharing the profits. If they are not, maybe it is time to take your ball and go play in another playground.

Fourth, you may need to have some leverage to motivate your employer.

If you have asked for a raise in the past and have failed to gain traction, you now have plenty of other options to keep yourself on a proper career trajectory.

This is no small matter. When you are underpaid, it is not only bad for your bank account today, but increasingly so in the future.

Being underpaid impacts your sense of self-worth, your family stability, and your retirement future. This is not about being greedy. This is about surviving and thriving over time with a reasonable quality of life that is commensurate with your knowledge, experience and your skills. This is about getting what you legitimately deserve for your labor.

Although it is now illegal for employers to ask about previous salaries, your failure to move up over time erodes your career success. Every time you make a career move, your new salary is going to be calculated based on the expectations set in your last job. If your job title does not match the responsibilities you have taken on, or if you are underpaid in your first job or consistently underpaid in ones that follow, you need to fix your situation now! If your current employer is not investing in you, you should have no reason to be invested in staying. You want to position yourself to be able to thank them for a great ride and to let them see the massive error it would be to let you go.

If you are looking for leverage, your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your appearance, your visibility all matter greatly.

Fifth - It's on you to ask for a raise.

Many people think that it is obvious that they are doing good work – why should you have to ask for a raise. Because you do. Just ask. You may be surprised at how easy it is.

When you have options, the question for your employer has changed. Getting an offer from another company gives you leverage.

Before, the consequence of their decision to underpay or under appreciate you was good for them - saving money and keeping costs down – consciously or unconsciously. Now the consequences will involve the cost of replacing you. And they will most likely have to pay more in any case.

That is your leverage. When you have a higher competing offer on the table from another employer you put them in a more difficult position. When you ask for a raise with a solid alternative employment offer you can reboot the conversation. “I’d really like to stay but I have this offer…” Your employer has to consider the downside of losing you – given your experience, company knowledge, product expertise, customer relationships, skills, contribution and value. You have made it much harder for them to say no. Either they appreciate you or they don’t, and now it is time for them to show it.

You got this!