Asking the Boss For a Pay Raise: the Series of Counteroffers

By · Monday, September 30th, 2013

In our last post we discussed that your boss is willing to talk about a raise.  Great!  Try to get your boss to make the first offer.  If, before making that offer, he wants to know what you are looking for, say the following:  “I know you will be fair with me and that you have a range in mind.  What do you feel my accomplishments and expertise are worth to your department?”

One of two things will occur.  Either he will suggest an offer, or he will insist that you go first.  If the latter should happen, since he is your boss, you will need to be polite and cooperative.  Here is how to handle the situation if your boss makes the first offer.

Let us assume you are making $50,000 and feel $55,000 is a fair and reasonable salary.  If your boss suggests, say, increasing your salary to $52,000, you need to appear surprised and disappointed.

At this point, you should say, “I appreciate your offer, however, my research of the marketplace shows me that – given my strong contributions above and beyond my job description, plus the savings I bring to the company – a raise of under $1.00 is less than the added value I bring to this firm.”

Do you see how your boss’s $2,000 offer can be minimized by presenting the number in a less desirable light? (Every $1.00 per hour raise equals $2,080 per year.)

At this point, your boss might ask what you have in mind.  This is where you must have nerves of steel.  You are still $3,000 away from your goal.  Much of negotiating, practically speaking, comes down to compromising and splitting differences.  Your boss gave a little, but is still talking about unreasonable numbers, so you must do the same.  By unreasonable, I do mean ludicrous.  Since you are $3,000 shy of your goal, you should ask for $3,000 above the salary you desire, plus a little “kicker.” A kicker is an odd number that implies that you have given your number very serious consideration, and, therefore, that your request isn’t very flexible.

In addition, you don’t want your boss figuring out that you are the exact same distance from your goal as he is.  Giving an even number would imply that you are shooting from the hip and your request can easily be negotiated, so ask for $58,500.

Your boss’s job is to act surprised and just about fall over.  He will probably do some math and say that he can go up to $53,750 – but nothing more.  In this case, he has offered another $1,750, so you should come down by that amount. However, to make sure he doesn’t know you are copying him, change the amount somewhat.  Counteroffer by asking for $56,500 (take the $58,500 you just asked for, subtract the $1,750 your boss just offered you, and add $250 to throw him off).  Explain to your boss that the difference between your offer and his is only $1.32 per hour.  (The difference between your boss’s last offer of $53,750 and yours of $56,500 is $2,750.  Divide that by the 2,080 hours you work each year, and you arrive at $1.32 per hour.)

Here your boss might say, “You are pushing my limits, but my final offer is $54,500.  Let me know.” You want your boss to save some face, and you are essentially close to your initial goal of $55,000, so you decide to accept.

However, do not immediately accept the offer.  Thank him and ask for a day or two to think it over.  Tell him that you want to run it past your spouse or close advisor.  In this way, your boss will feel that you are giving his offer serious consideration.  Otherwise, if you accept instantly, he may feel he was too easy with you and that he should have offered less.

This is human nature.  Make him feel good about the offer and that he, too, has won.  You should feel good that you received a 9% raise, which is well above what most employees get.  In addition, your next raise will be based upon an annual salary of $54,500 instead of $50,000.

In actuality, does a pay raise scenario go just like the above case?  Maybe, but when people are involved, rarely do things go exactly as planned.  It can spin off into many different variations.  It is near impossible to consider all those possibilities here.  And each person involved brings their emotions, personalities, egos and personal feelings into the situation.

That is why many people seek professional guidance throughout the process, in order to maximize a positive outcome.  And that is what I provide to those who want the security and knowledge that they are handling the situation in the best way possible.  When I work with professionals, I get a detailed understanding of how the company operates, the boss, or bosses operate and the style of your personality, and your goals. Then together we map out a game plan.  I quarterback that game plan.  No guess work, but a real plan that we work on together until completion and success.

The sample above is just for illustrative purposes.  I kept the numbers simple so it is easy to follow.   Often I’m going for a 25% or 35% raise.  Just use the same thinking about to navigate your pay raise negotiation.

If you want to know, in my judgment, if you qualify for a significant raise, then email me and request a salary raise questionnaire and I’ll get one right out to you.

How is the above similar or different than your experiences with negotiating salaries?  Share here:

Do you realize that you can negotiate for more than just cash?  Find out how in this series of free and powerful tips….

Are you anxious to get started moving your life forward and making the money you deserve? I don’t blame you.



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