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Want to Negotiate a Higher Salary? Hurry Up and Wait (for the Right Time)

PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide shows that 75 percent of people who negotiate salary get some kind of a raise. What went wrong for the remaining 25 percent? Well, sometimes it’s a matter of budget, and sometimes the issue is technique.
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How you ask for a raise can be just as important as gathering up the courage to negotiate in the first place. Doing salary research to be sure you’re asking for the right range and planning what to say during the negotiation are good first steps. But when it comes down to it, one of the most important things you can do is to ask at the right time.

What’s the best time to ask for a raise, or negotiate a higher salary during the job interview process? Wait for these moments:

During the Job Interview Process, Wait Until You’re Offered a Job

“The point at which you have greatest leverage is the moment when you’ve been offered the job,” writes Corrie Shanahan at Fast Company. “That’s the moment when the employer thinks they’re done, that they’ve finally come to a conclusion. But they aren’t, and that represents a powerful opportunity for candidates who are savvy enough to pounce on it.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

If that seems obvious, you probably haven’t been on a job interview in a while. Shanahan points out that the process is fraught with long periods of silence: “The process of hammering out an agreement between the business and HR is often drawn out and cumbersome, and that often throws job candidates into a quiet panic.”

By the time they make the offer, you might be half convinced you’ve blown the whole deal, and react with gratitude instead of recognizing the opportunity. Bottom line, the job offer means they want you. They may have moved heaven and earth to get to this point. Now’s the time to ask for more money.

When Negotiating a Raise at Your Current Job, Do These 3 Things

  1. Keep your ear to the ground.

If you work for a midsized or larger organization, and you haven’t done so already, now’s a good time to set up a Google Alert for your employer’s name. In any case, pay attention to the news about your organization, both externally and internally. Listen to the scuttlebutt. Watch for signs that the company is or isn’t hitting its goals and growing. If your employer isn’t making money, you’re not getting a raise in the near future.

  1. Respect your manager’s time.

Don’t sandbag the boss with a request for more cash. Schedule a meeting, prepare your case, and go into the meeting set to dazzle them. Communication takes two people who have time and energy to listen and convey information. Increase your chances of being heard by giving your boss some notice.

  1. Do your asking when budgets are open.

Believe it or not, the end of the year is not the best time to ask for a raise. Use your annual review as an opportunity to discuss future plans, including your ambitions regarding raises and promotions — but don’t expect the boss to be able to sign off on more than the usual 3 percent right now. Lay the groundwork, and reap the benefits later.

Tell Us What You Think

When’s the best time to ask for more money, in your opinion? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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