Deserve a raise? Here’s how to fight for it. 

Negotiating a Raise Illustration

One hundred years ago, in 1918, the average American household made $1,518 annually. Today, the average business major’s starting salary is nearly 30 times that—between $45,000 and $50,000 per year, according to a recent study.

For the last century, we have seen wages rise. But as expenses have crept up, everyone could use a little extra in the bank. Luckily, two Fox School researchers may be able to help.

Tony Petrucci and Crystal Harold, two researchers in the Department of Human Resource Management, have studied the best tactics for negotiating a raise. On one hand, competency—the skills that an individual contributes to an organization—is king. On the other hand, the presentation of this delicate proposal may dictate whether it fails or succeeds. Here are some tips from Petrucci and Harold about how you can be strategic about increasing your salary.

From Tony Petrucci, assistant professor of practice:

1. Understand which competencies are most valued based on your role. “The best way to increase your own value is by creating value for your organization. Most organizations determine value by execution of competencies, including skills, knowledge, and experiences. Research has shown some competencies universally lead to higher pay. For example, people who display a feedback-seeking orientation earn higher pay raises and quicker promotions. Seeking feedback is typically associated with higher levels of emotional intelligence, which is a competency most organizations value and reward.”

2. Know where the future is trending in your field. “Competencies in areas such as digital leadership, data analytics, real-time feedback, artificial intelligence, and leadership are very relevant and valued. Deloitte, for example, found that digital leaders of the future will need to be more networked, collaborative, more inclusive, and better at giving, seeking, and receiving real-time feedback.”

3. Recognize that career paths will become less traditional in the future. “In today’s environment, individuals need to take more ownership for their career through personal learning. By understanding what competencies are important, showing calibrated excellence in those competencies, and marketing personal achievement, research shows you may have higher—and more frequent—raises.”

From Crystal Harold, associate professor of human resources management and Cigna Research Fellow:

4. Timing is important. “If you successfully completed an important project or received a major commendation for your work, time the discussion with your boss after these events. Research suggests that Thursdays may be the best day to ask for a raise, as people are generally most agreeable and potentially open to negotiations as the traditional workweek winds down.”

5. Do your homework. “Know the worth of your position, your skill set, and what you bring to the company. Be prepared to articulate why you merit a raise. For instance, if your job has changed in some meaningful way, be able to document how. If you played a critical role in completing an important project, be able to clarify your contributions. By knowing the salary norms for your industry and documenting your accomplishments, you can better justify your targeted figure.”

6. Don’t bluff unless you can accept the consequences. “Research shows that competitive strategies—like sharing details of a competing offer or threatening to walk away—during job offer negotiations yield higher salary gains. While these tactics might be useful for initial negotiations, be cautious of using them when requesting a raise. If you threaten to leave unless you receive a raise, but actually do not intend to leave, be prepared for the repercussions if your boss calls your bluff. And going on the job market to get an offer for the sole purpose of motivating a raise could irreparably damage your reputation with others within your industry.”

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