Whether you’re planning to return to the workforce, switch industries or functions, pursue a leadership role, seek out more money, or find a job that better fits your lifestyle, this is your year.
If asking for a raise or seeking out a higher-paying job has been on your career to-do list, this is a great year to make a move that helps you level up in terms of compensation. While the onset of the pandemic resulted in layoffs and high unemployment, the past year has seen unprecedented hiring alongside a trend of record numbers of workers leaving their jobs during the Great Resignation. This has created a demand and supply gap in which there are more open opportunities than candidates, putting job seekers in a unique and timely position.
This year, candidates are well-positioned to seek out jobs with more responsibilities, higher pay, and better benefits. Many companies are adjusting incoming hires’ salaries in light of the increased talent demand and in response to inflation.
This often means that new hires are entering at a higher rate than current employees doing the same job. Additionally, chances are that if you’ve been in your current position for a while, even if you’re getting annual raises at a certain percentage, you’re likely below market rate in light of all that has happened in the labor market over the past year. If you discover through research that roles at other companies are paid at higher levels, it’s time to initiate that discussion.
We know asking for money can be uncomfortable, but it is a necessary step. Given that international organizations are actively budgeting for pay increases this year, it is the right time to initiate such conversations. Companies are highly focused on retention right now, and many will happily adjust salaries to keep strong performers.
Decide on the specific ask
Asking for more money during the hiring process is a very delicate question. Start by deciding what it is you want, and remember that your leverage as a candidate right now can help you in multiple ways. Don’t overlook the many dimensions of compensation. For example, you could ask for a different role, more stock options, lateral opportunities, or higher base compensation. Keep the big picture in mind when you have these discussions and ask for what will set you up best in the long-term for a thriving career. Asking for a “stretch” role in which you have more opportunities to grow and learn might be a better move than simply asking for more money.
Once you’ve decided what it is you’d like to pursue, focus on what you bring to the table.
Delve into the facts and figures
It should be a given to do your research when asking for a raise. Rather than just asking for what you want, simply because you want it, frame it in a way your company can understand.
In a negotiation, it pays to be the most prepared person in the room. Show up armed with market rates, and find out what others in your location with your skill set are earning elsewhere. Beyond this data, focus on yourself. Rather than asking for a raise because it’s what others make, discuss the skills you bring to the table, your enthusiasm for your current work, or the company’s trajectory, how long you’ve been with the company, and—if applicable—other offers on the table from other companies.
Chances are, your company is more than willing to hand over more money to retain strong employees. If they aren’t, you likely have viable alternatives elsewhere, especially considering the current labor market. Remember, the absolute worst that can happen is that they say no. Maybe they don’t have the budget right now, or they aren’t willing to increase your salary at this time, and that’s fine.
Take time to decide whether or not your current role and current salary fit your career goals right now, and know that your options are open.
Know when to walk away
You can’t go into a negotiation expecting to get everything you ask for, but if your company isn’t willing to budge or meet you in the middle, the current hiring market is simply too good to stay put.
Knowing when to walk away is just as important as learning how to ask for what you want. While it may be a difficult decision to make because searching for a new job can be intimidating, finding a position where you feel valued monetarily will only help you in the long run. Of course, the nuance of this will look different for everyone, but the essence of it is the same. If your company is unwilling to make any accommodations to meet your goals, or create a clear plan to help you achieve them in the future, move on.
With so much momentum in hiring and a huge increase in demand for talent, this is an ideal time to level up in your career from both a responsibilities as well as compensation perspective. For instance, a year from now, overall hiring may have slowed and there are fewer opportunities available among companies in your industry. Your current company might not feel the same urgency addressing a request for a salary change as they do now. If you’ve been a hard worker who has put in the time and effort, your employer likely wants to keep you and knows you can turn to other opportunities. It’s in your best interest to go for it and ask for a pay raise.
Rena Nigam is the founder and CEO of Meytier, a human resources company that focuses on offsetting unconscious bias in hiring. Rena started Meytier with the mission to help improve diversity at scale through a technology-based approach.