5 Things To Know About Salary Before You Ask For A Raise


By Cassidy Rush, Marketing Manager at PayScale

Whether you’re asking for a raise or a promotion, discussing salary is complicated. Salary is more than just a number. It’s your value, your worth and your livelihood. It’s an emotional conversation that you don’t want to dive into without doing your own due diligence. So what do you need to know before you have the salary conversation with your manager?
Salary Is Based On Your Current Worth In the Market.
Salary isn’t quite as mysterious as people think. Most companies base salary on what your job is currently worth in the market. This is because over time, some jobs become “hotter” than others. For example, tech jobs are considered hot jobs these days, and the pay reflects that. Companies are willing to pay top dollar in competitive industries. You can also see the other side of this trend in jobs that have become less “hot,” like those in the mining industry. My best advice? Use a resource like PayScale to find out the current worth of your skills, and use that number to negotiate your raise.
Salary Is More Than Just Your Base Pay.
At first glance, the most important thing to employees is base pay. But it’s important not to limit your salary negotiations to just your take-home pay. Consider negotiating your benefits, bonus eligibility or a flexible work program. For example, you could negotiate extra paid time off, or guaranteed work-from-home days for those times when you need to be home to take care of personal business or your children. The truth is, sometimes working in a flexible office is just as good as a little extra cash.
Salary Acts as a Benchmark For Your Future Earning Potential.
Although some cities and states are starting to pass legislation making it illegal to ask about salary history, some hiring managers still use current salary as a benchmark for your future earning potential. That’s unfortunate. Companies should be pricing jobs, not people. Even so, your salary benchmark can serve as a catalyst for earning a higher salary. For example, accepting one “low-ball” offer could seriously put you behind. When you negotiate salary, you’re not just negotiating the number that will appear on your next paycheck. Because most employers give raises in the form of a percentage increase based on current pay, you’re also determining how much you’ll be earning next year, and the year after that.
Salary Correlates With Job Title.
If you’re applying for an associate- or junior-level position, you should definitely expect an associate-level or junior-level salary. Job titles matter when it comes to negotiating your salary. On the other hand, if you’re trying to negotiate a higher title for yourself, you need to have done your own due diligence. PayScale’s recruiter Caitlin Williams explains that “job titles should be reflective of your experience. If someone’s a Senior Manager versus someone who’s merely a Manager, I’d expect there to be a measurable distance between the two jobs.”
Salary Is Emotional.
I don’t care what anyone tells you: At the end of the day, salary negotiation is an emotional topic. Salary is our livelihood and our well-being. It’s how we survive. Trying to negotiate these things without fear of consequence can be tricky, but if you approach it the right way, you can eliminate the emotional baggage. A good way to approach a salary negotiation is to come armed with data, not feelings. We suggest taking the PayScale salary survey and using your salary report numbers to help fuel your research and build your salary negotiation case. When you’re able to make a business case for the salary you deserve, the only emotion you should feel is pure confidence.

Cassidy Rush is a Marketing Manager at PayScale where she writes about data and gender equity.