The main points in a nutshell

  • Expressing a clear salary expectation is important
  • Be prepared to make compromises
  • Avoid spontaneous salary discussions – prepare in advance.

Tip 1 – the psychological trick

Try out this little psychological trick. Ask for a “salary adjustment” instead of a “raise.” It’s a small but important difference. Think about good reasons why your salary should be adjusted. Have you taken on additional tasks or more responsibility, for example?

Tip 2 – stay focused on your goal

Be assertive and give a specific salary figure. If it appears realistic, your boss will be more willing to listen to your arguments. Try to assess your value as an employee logically: a raise of between 3 and 10 percent is entirely possible. If you are changing jobs you could get up to 20 percent more, especially if you were headhunted.

Tip 3 – money isn’t everything

What if your company cannot give you a raise? What you probably really want is a higher quality of life. So why not try to come to an alternative arrangement, such as more flexible working hours, money toward your travel costs, or additional vacation days? This way you are also demonstrating that you are willing to make compromises.

No-go 1 – wrong place, wrong time

Salary discussions should never be held spontaneously or outside of working hours. For example, discussing a raise over an after-work beer is an absolutely inappropriate time. Also bear in mind that you should be careful about asking for a raise if your company is experiencing financial difficulties.

No-go 2 – unrealistic expectations

Although you should not be afraid of asking for too high a salary, your proposal should not be completely disproportionate or ridiculous. If it is, not only will you lose out on a raise, you will probably also make yourself unpopular. This applies in particular to a potential new job, which you could miss out on entirely if your salary expectations are unrealistic.

No-go 3 – bad-tempered behavior

It should be clear that threats have no place in this scenario. But even an undertone of annoyance can be enough to make yourself unpopular.

Sentences like “I could earn more somewhere else...” should definitely be avoided. You might end up losing the opportunity of a future salary discussion and cause unnecessary tension.

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