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How to Increase Your Likelihood of Negotiating a Raise

Happy Worker Raise
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When you’re denied the salary you’re worth, you’re either not working for an organization that values your skills, knowledge and experience; you’re working for an organization that – for a variety of reasons—legitimately may not be able to give you a raise; or you’re working for an organization that simply doesn’t know what you’re worth and consequently doesn’t know what you should be paid to keep you happy, engaged and productive.

If you’ve ever asked for a raise only to be denied, you understand how frustrating it can be to feel you’re not being compensated in a way that accurately and fairly reflects your professional value. And when you’re not sure why you’re not being paid fairly, it can be infinitely more frustrating.

Unfortunately, according to PayScale’s new report Raise Anatomy: How to Ask for a Raise and Get It, a full 33 percent of workers who asked for a raise and were denied were given no rationale as to why they didn’t receive a salary increase. And that’s a big no-no for any organization.

Talk Is Cheap

Communication around compensation decisions is a crucial aspect of maintaining employee satisfaction. And companies that don’t adequately explain why they’re giving or, in this case, not giving raises risk alienating and eventually losing their top-performing employees, including you. (Don’t blush. We mean it.)

Do You Know What You're Worth?

In fact, PayScale’s data research team learned that solid communication around compensation may be even more valuable in terms of retaining top talent than the compensation itself.

From an interview with Dave Smith, PayScale’s Chief Product Officer, in the Harvard Business Review:

“…if an employer pays lower than the market average for a position, but communicates clearly about the reasons for the smaller paycheck, 82% of employees we surveyed still felt satisfied with their work. Conversely, we found overpaying employees in an effort to retain them without having this larger conversation about pay doesn’t ensure they are more satisfied. Our study showed it is more effective for employers to compensate top talent at market value and discuss how pay was determined than to pay them more than market value and keep company compensation practices shrouded in secrecy.”

Show Them the Money

If you ask for a raise and are denied without reason, there’s a chance your employer legitimately doesn’t know what your skills, experience and knowledge are worth in the labor market.

If that’s the case, assuming you didn’t do it to begin with, one of the most-valuable tools you can bring to any type of salary negotiation is data. After all, as said famed engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer and management consultant W. Edwards Deming, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

Having information to make your case might well open your employer’s eyes to the fact – not the opinion – that you’re underpaid, thereby increasing the likelihood of your getting a raise.

So where can you find data that proves what you’re worth? PayScale’s free Salary Survey uses the largest salary database in the world to show you precisely what you should be getting paid, giving you the facts you need for fair, easy and open salary negotiations with your employer.

And if you want more tips and advice about salary negotiation, PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide is jammed full of articles that’ll help prepare you for successful conversation about compensation.


Have you ever been denied a raise you knew you deserved? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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