Every Employee is Always Searching for Ways to Improve Their Salary — Here’s an Expert Take on How to Achieve It

With every passing new year, the expectancy increases in improving your overall salary to a satisfactory amount.

But what happens when you end up in an endless purgatory waiting for your slice of heaven?

How do you go about asking for a raise when you fear about the repercussions of a failed negotiation?

Asking for a raise is like answering a ‘multiple-choice questionnaire’ — There’s just one correct answer and a whole lot of mistakes.

Today we list 8 mistakes to dodge before you begin the negotiation process.


MISTAKE #1: Don’t Ask For A Raise When You’re Not Performing At Your Best

Off late your performance hasn’t been up to the mark. You find yourself in conference rooms with your boss discussing how to increase your productivity.

These times are tough – these times call for self-improvement and are not for negotiating salary.

Any discussion related to your salary is bound to burn up like a flaming meteor hitting the surface of the earth. In the following scenario — Ask yourself how to analyze your performance through the following questionnaire.

Do answer at length to get a good grasp of your personal evaluation.

Answer the Following Questions to Get a Quick Personal Review of Yourself

  1. In just three words, describe the most important skillsets that your company hired you for?
  2. Are you in a Training Program? If yes, list them
  3. What can I do to be more helpful to my team?
  4. What are the tools that can make my job easier?
  5. What are the biggest challenges faced by my company today?
  6. What is my most difficult task in the company?

Once you’ve gotten the answers, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Create a Personal Performance Review

A performance review is a workplace evaluation by a manager or senior level employee to determine an employee’s worth and to understand how important their services are to the company.

Modern employees tend to always carry a copy of past performance results with them to be able to provide to their seniors at a second’s notice.

It’s important to create your performance review for this reason.  Every performance review should be clear of grammatical mistakes and should be proofread multiple times.

Don’t just write about your successful performances but also criticize yourself in your review.

This provides a deeper insight into the type of employee you are.

Here are quick tips on how to write the ideal performance review —

  • Pick the conversational style of writing your performance review- Words that you write need to flow from within your heart and not sound stuffy. When reading, your boss should understand that the words written down came from your own lips, that’s how a standout performance review shines out.
  • Social Feedback Inclusion – Ever had a good word in from one your co-workers for handling their work during their absence? Convert a good word into a testimonial and have the backing of your colleagues. Soliciting critical comments that highlight you in a positive sense is a great way for adding brownie points to your performance review.
  • Don’t Be Shy — List Your Achievements – When considering a performance review, adding achievements to your review may seem resentful and arrogant. This is why many employees lose out on a salary raise when they think displaying their accomplishments can be seen as a doorway of selfishness. As long as you don’t talk down your colleagues in your performance review, displaying your abilities at their illuminating best is the only way forward to grasp a salary increment opportunity.

MISTAKE #2: Don’t Complain About Not Receiving A Raise

Rejection is hard! It stings the hardest when you display top performing abilities and no one seems to recognize you or reward you. Statements like the one below may creep into your mind occasionally.

“I’m the only one in the company that has been working for the longest time yet all of you seem to be oblivious to this fact and seem to reward the newcomers with increments. To hell with all of this, I Quit!”

While it’s okay to have negative thoughts in your mind, it’s another thing to say it out loud or pass shrewd remarks on your senior managers. No one, and we mean NO ONE has ever made it big in their careers by whining and moaning about their hardships.

Instead, take the day off and find a way to unwind before you begin to break down what exactly is the reason your seniors aren’t increasing your paycheck.

Always remember an undisciplined employee is always replaceable by the organization and no matter how highly you regard yourself, your manners speak on your behalf.

Find out your Salary Range

Websites such as Glassdoor and PayScale are great options to use to your benefit. Here’s what to do —

  • Simply visit one or both these sites and input your “job designation” into the search bar. Examples — Computer Programmer, Backend Developer, Software Engineer, etc.
  • Once you’ve clicked enter, you should have a list of jobs matching your designation and their average salaries displayed.
  • Go through a few of the top-end companies to get a gross average on exactly what salary is being paid for professionals in your field and match them in line with the experience.
  • Soon, you’ll have an efficient understanding of whether your organization is underpaying you or if you’re receiving the right amount for your work.

If you believe you’re being underpaid, you should have a soft discussion with your boss about it. And by soft discussion, we mean going in with a meaningful conversation and bringing out the payment factor without being too obvious.

Chances are he understands your value and immediately schedules an increment if not, it’s best to shift your base to a company that rewards your efforts.

MISTAKE #3: Becoming Resentful Upon Rejection

Performance speaks volumes. Threatening to leave your company just because your boss doesn’t cater to your demands is a great way to hit rock bottom as far as your career is concerned. An adversarial reaction is ill-advised.

We all want to storm into our boss’s chambers and give them a good mouthful and then throw in the resignation towel and walk out with flamboyance and panache. All scenes that look great in movies but are horrendous in real life.

Because once you leave the office, remorse will begin to creep in and then a wall of regret slaps you back to reality. You’ve just given away years and years of hard work for a single moment of frustration.

And that’s where all your chances of an increment results to a full zero. Now, you are unemployed and in a far worse off situation than you started.

Instead of becoming resentful for being rejected a pay raise, fuel your inner rage by adding passion to your daily tasks. If you can’t get your boss to notice you, then you need to increase your work operations and ensure that you do something that brings you into the spotlight in a positive sense.

Here’s a fine example demonstrating the situation

“Mark is an employee that works at a retail departmental store selling furniture. He performs an additional 10-15%revenue than the next best employee on any given day.Yet Mark is dejected that he isn’t rewarded for his efforts at being an exceptional salesman by his company.”

Now Mark is a great example of the frustrated employee in every one of us. Now if Mark were to increase his sales, even more, to say 20%-25% through hard work and commitment, his boss is sure to take notice of his efforts and promote him to a managerial role.

A slight increase in efforts isn’t enough for an organization to take notice and you may need to stand out from the 2nd best employee by miles to demonstrate your capabilities.

Take on additional roles in the company, work overtime during a budget cut, ensure the company is in a functional and operable condition and your boss will have no choice but to incentivize a valuable employee rather than losing them to a rival organization.

MISTAKE #4: Using Email Or A Phone Call As A Means To Discuss Your Raise

If you’re planning on sending a fax, calling up your boss or using an email service to discuss your raise options — You’re doing it all wrong!

Firstly, an email is used to notify your boss of the day-to-day events and to forward important events regarding the company. Using it as a form to discuss your raise is equivalent to sending him a postcard with a handwritten letter of your intentions for a salary increment. Not only will you not be taken seriously, your boss could easily ignore an email that he deems unimportant.

Similarly, a phone call doesn’t grasp the full attention of your boss as he could be occupied with urgent matters and might just entertain you with a positive response in the near future. The best way forward is to schedule a meeting in person and to orally communicate your request.

Here’s an example of how a meeting would go between an employee and his boss over the phone —

Stuart: Sir, this is Stuart Webber from the Logistics Division, I’d like to take some time to discuss a raise that I think I am entitled to receive.

Boss: Hello Stuart, I’d like to entertain you on this topic, but this isn’t really a good time to talk about it.

Stuart: Sure, I’d like to know when I can bring this to your attention at the earliest?

Boss: I’d prefer a face-to-face discussion and please bring in your reports and all accompanying documents pertaining to your accomplishments in the past year.

As you can see, Mark has already ruined his chances of getting a pay increment by not knowing to discuss a pay increase in person.

The boss would like to see if he really has performed exceedingly well in the past year and if he is indeed in line for a salary increment.

Dan King, President of Career Planning and Management recommends utilizing Salary Wizard by Monster, to understand what other people are making around the world and how it affects your growth.

He states that an employee should discuss an entire package including perks, vacation leave, educational benefits, etc. and not just focus on salary alone.

Linda Raynier discusses 6 tips to help you justify to your boss regarding a higher payout.

MISTAKE #5: Never Ask For A Raise Too Soon

One of the obvious mistakes that employees make early in their careers is to ask for a raise immediately upon joining a new company.

There is a cold period to consider for every new employee that lasts between 6 months to a year. This period has a 99% rejection rate for every employee that requests a pay raise.

Unless you’ve done remarkable things in under a year, the chances for your monetary increment is going to be extremely low and there’s no point in asking for one. Instead, this is the period to focus on increasing your work efficiency.

By increasing your productive factor, you become a standout employee in the company and the chances of your raise being accepted become higher.

Mary, working in a real estate firm, claims “You can’t expect other people to remember your accomplishments, so you need to keep these things out front,”.

She understood that she was being underpaid by her firm and began to gather surveys and other documents to prove her worth to her boss.

Mary then received a 30% increase in her overall salary and she achieved this by arming herself with knowledge from the internet.

Here’s a quick checklist on the ground rules to consider when discussing a salary negotiation —

  • A year is a minimum time frame to work in a company before discussing a raise
  • Always compare your salary figures among your professional peers to get the exact figure
  • Pick a time when you’ve accomplished a valuable proposition for the company or secured a lead
  • Face-to-face conversation is the preferred way to negotiate
  • Choose the right people of the company to talk to — The Boss, Senior Managers, etc.
  • If you’ve been given a time frame for a possible increment, never stop chasing after it
  • Don’t threaten to leave the company — You’re always replaceable
  • Don’t damage the relationship if you intend to leave the company, leave on a good note
  • Don’t ask for a pay increase after a profit announcement from the company
  • Ensure you ask for a pay raise every year and don’t leave it for too late

MISTAKE #6: Don’t Bring Up Negotiations While Issuing An Ultimatum

One trap that leads to disaster for any future career prospects is to threaten the company with a false job offer. This isn’t a poker game where the company isn’t going to catch your bluff.

Even if you’re an efficient employee, it’s not a wise decision to gamble your efforts away for a little increase in salary. Counteroffers from another company are usually seen as a “gun-to-the-head” approach to your current company.

You’ll most likely offend your seniors and boss, and this could affect a good long relationship that you’ve had with the company. Although, an efficient way to demonstrate your efforts is by bringing to their notice just how much you’re worth in the market and why you’re loyal to them.

Molly Tiffin, from LearnVest agrees that organizations can find you disloyal when you bring up offers from another company. She states that taking an offensive stance against your company can leave you with a bitter taste in the mouth in the long run.

She believes that 75% to 90% of employees who end up discussing a counter offer usually leave the company whether they receive or don’t receive a pay upgrade in the company.

Even if you do receive a pay raise, you’ll be an outsider starting from that point on and may miss out on important opportunities that could shape your career.

Here’s a quick questionnaire to consider before you accept a counteroffer —

  • Money is temporary happiness — Have you learned everything that you need from the current company?
  • Are you sacrificing your purpose for a small share of profits?
  • Is your new job offering all the perks of your old company or just a few with a pay increase?
  • Are your co-workers friendly towards you in your current company?
  • How good is your relationship with your bosses and other senior members of the organization?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your job satisfaction rate?
  • Have you researched your new employer well enough?
  • Do you think your current experience is enough to carry over to your new job?
  • Do you have enough savings if you end up unemployed for a year?

If you indeed prefer to shift your work desk, the wise thing is to do it professionally — polite and warmly.

Don’t declare war and lose all the valuable relationships that you’ve built across your tenure.

Contacts such as these are critical in the future when you may be in dire need of their assistance.

MISTAKE #7: Don’t Bring Up Personal Reasons As An Excuse For A Pay Upgrade

Have a car loan that you just can’t get rid of? Perhaps a 2nd mortgage on your home?  or unable to meet your day-to-day expenditure?

All valid reasons for a pay upgrade except personal issues don’t really replace work efficiency for the company.

Never play the “pity” card in front of your boss, it’s in your best interests to plan your expenses and get rid of your outstanding payments without seeking your company’s help.

Your superior could easily invalidate your cause by pointing to the fact that every one of his employees faces the same hardship as you, what makes you the special one to receive the benefit of the doubt?

The top 3 personal reasons that employees bring out to their superiors are as follows.

Your Expenses Don’t Have Value in a Pay Negotiation

When you accepted the job and signed the job letter, you agreed to the terms and conditions set forth by the company. Managing your finances is something only you can commit to.

Change the way you live, save more by eating out less, and buy clothes on a sale.

Do anything to save a few bucks to shred down your loans but the company doesn’t owe you beyond the agreed amount. Plain and simple.

“I’m About to Have a Child, I’d like a Pay Increase”

One of the most used excuses for employees is to expect a pay upgrade for becoming new parents. That’s not how it works. You aren’t entitled to an increase in pay just because the number of family members has increased.

The company isn’t entitled to pay you a surplus just because you aren’t capable of managing the finances of your own family.

Don’t beat around the bush and waste your efforts in expecting a raise, for this reason, the best the company would do is offer time off to be with your family and that’s being generous.

No Money for Travel

Travelling isn’t a life necessity and is certainly not encouraged by many organizations to increase the pay of their employees.

Surely, you can increase the days off in your vacation package but to expect to be paid just for enjoying a dream holiday is a wild fantasy on your part.

By working hard and moving up the ranks you can reward yourself with a generous increase in salary and a trip to your preferred holiday destination. Don’t waste a salary negotiation discussion based on this subject.

Practical Psychology shows us how to save money without going overboard with your expenditure.

These money-managing tricks help in automating your monthly needs without having to rely on a raise.

MISTAKE #8: Don’t Ask For A Raise During A Budget Cut Or An Ongoing Financial Crunch

Tanya Tarr, a Forbes contributor suggests all employees take the fiscal year into account before arriving at a decision on negotiating a pay upgrade. “Timing is everything”, she states while adding that apart from a salary raise, an employee is open to receiving career opportunities when the time is right.

When asking for a raise during a budget crisis, you’re sure to get the short end of the stick. Simply put, the organization has no finances to allow for monetary raises at this time when payroll taxes take the spotlight. AAUW’s expert Rauch says instead of asking for monetary increment during this time, it’s best to avail other perks such as remote-work options, additional vacation time, professional development, flexible work timings, etc.

Here are 5 pro tips to consider before you ask for a monetary increment.

  1. Salary isn’t the only perk for an employee, during a budget crisis, ask for quality of work life improvements such as work tools, additional break time, lunch coupons, etc.
  2. Educational programs or training programs are extremely expensive, ask your company to fund a program you think can add expertise to your skillset. In this way, you gain long-lasting knowledge for free.
  3. During a budget crisis, your company is most likely conducting layoffs on employees who don’t make the cut. During this time, securing your job should be your main priority.
  4. Give time for the company to recover from their losses. A 6-month period from the last financial crisis is a good time to revisit your raise discussion.
  5. A budget cut usually means several job positions remain vacant until such a time the company replaces the laid-off employees. Take up these positions and prove to your company that you’re a valuable employee.

The following scenarios provide you with examples of how to react when your boss responds with a neutral response.

Response #1

Boss: “We are currently under a financial constraint, there won’t be any monetary changes conducted on existing employees. In fact, you should consider yourself lucky you haven’t made the list of evicted employees.”

Your Response: “Gratitude. I am honored that the company has such high hopes in me. I understand the current situation and will revisit the proposition in better times.”

Response #2

Boss: “I’m currently under a heavy workload, as you can see the company isn’t moving in the best direction. I wish you’d come to me the previous quarter when things weren’t this bad.”

Your Response: “I understand. Thanks for the opportunity for allowing me to shed light on my situation. In the meantime, I’ll be sure to bounce off ideas on how to come up with ways to turn things around for the company.”

Positive responses such as the above ones demonstrate the loyalty within you. When times are tough, the company seeks encouragement from its employees.

The ones who weather the storm and patiently stick with the company are usually rewarded with pay upgrades and promotions during the company’s profitable times.

Consider the future during a budget crunch.


The key to a successful negotiation is research and well-thought out reasoning. Take, for example, a lawyer fights a case without understanding what the case is about, the opposition is going to brutally tear him apart with facts and sound evidence.

Similarly, as an employee, it’s your duty to guard yourself with updated information and knowledge on pay scales pertaining to your profession.

We’ve picked the top questions that employees should always have answers to —

  • What do competitors offer people in your field?
  • How well does your company pay better compared to other organizations?
  • How critical is my job role in today’s market?
  • Is my company utilizing my skills to the max without rewarding me for my efforts?
  • Is my job standard “X” and am I asking for a “Y” price?
  • Am I seeing salary as the only negotiable thing on the table?

Financial consultants and mentors are a great source of information to lead you in the right direction.

An expert in your field, maybe a family member or a friend can also provide the right advice in providing all the information that is required to ensure your negotiation process remains smooth.

Norman, from Kraft Foods Group states “Negotiation is an ongoing process, you have to add value in a quantifiable role before you can reap success in upgrading your salary.”

Here’s a quick step-by-step video tutorial to get you started on negotiating through your salary process.


In the end, after you’ve exhausted all options at receiving a salary raise, the only thing to have is — Patience.

Time will ensure you receive and are entitled to the rewards of your benefits. If your boss fails to see you as a valuable employee, there’s always another organization that is awaiting a valuable employee such as yourself.

Remember to always negotiate a higher price than you need, in the end when the negotiation is done, the price might just be exactly what you wanted.

Always give your seniors a time frame to calculate your worth and to return to you before you begin job searching. Two weeks are usually the allotted time to discuss all proceedings.

When you receive a negative answer, you are faced with two options — either work harder in the current company or move to another company. If you intend to choose the latter, understand that you lose all the existing perks of your company.

So, try to come up with a balance before making a hasty decision that you might regret moving on.

8 Major Mistakes During Salary Negotiations That Kill Your Salary Raise

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