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Salary Raise: The 10 Best Tips for Negotiating

Earn more money, get a 10 or even 20 percent raise? It is not impossible. However, this is not a sure-fire success either. You should never go into salary negotiations without clear salary expectations, good arguments and a smart strategy. Because when it comes to the subject of “money” and “salary”, friendship usually ends with the boss. Here we show you which rules of the game and negotiation tricks you should know and master, as well as 10 tried and tested tips for a raise of a few hundred euros ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Prepare salary interview: create performance folder

Before every increase in salary, there is a so-called "salary interview" with the boss. Good preparation is essential for this. It ALWAYS begins with a personal assessment:

  • What have you achieved and achieved so far?
  • What added value have you achieved for the company?
  • What are the future benefits for the employer?
  • What goals and successes are you striving for in the future?

Regardless of which negotiation tips and tricks you use: In essence, you will always have to argue about your performance (s) and draw up a kind of invoice: What you are paid more must be worthwhile and pay off for the boss. So show that you (will) “deserve” the raise. The approach has to be: It doesn't make you more expensive. Rather, the employer benefits from the deal.

Address a raise - but how?

The best tip: Create a so-called service portfolio now. That sounds more complex than it is. These are two to four A4 pages on which you can collect hard facts and arguments for more money. For example:

  • Have you won new customers?
  • Which projects have successfully managed?
  • Which processes have you improved?
  • Where have you been able to save costs?
  • Did you take any further training?
  • What have you been working on more and longer than requested?
  • What are your goals for the coming year?
  • What else will you do?
  • How does your company benefit from it?

All of this belongs in this service portfolio:

The following video explains how this track record works:

Maximum salary in the early 50s

Do you want to earn a lot of money? Then hurry up! According to a Stepstone study (250,000 records), most people reach their maximum salary by the age of 52. Average of 58,539 euros. After that, dependent employees hardly earn any more. The salary is more likely to fall because those affected take less time to work or look for less responsible jobs and positions (keyword: downshifting). The largest salary increases are made between the ages of 30 and 40. From the mid-50s, most options are exhausted.

Raise arguments: 10 questions + 10 tips

Because we have received a lot of letters from readers on the subject of "salary increases" for years, we have answered the most frequently asked and most important questions in the following list.

Am I entitled to a raise and more wages?

There is no “right to a raise”. Your salary is a matter of negotiation. However, claims can arise. Example of a ban on discrimination: employers can agree salaries individually. However, they are bound by collective bargaining agreements or a works agreement. If some employees are systematically treated unequally (because of gender or age), disadvantaged people can request a salary adjustment. Thanks to the “Entgelttransparenzgesetz” and more wage transparency, you could check that better today.

How do I best address the issue of money?

It is important for employees to take the initiative and speak to their boss on their own initiative. Ideally, you should use the employee appraisal for this - or make your own appointment.

It is better to speak of a "salary adjustment" instead of a "salary increase". Reason: "Salary increase" sounds like "pay more money" - like "increase" for no reason. The subtext of the “salary adjustment” implies that something has not been correct so far and therefore has to be “adjusted”. So there is a reason for that. What this amounts to is the same. Depending on what makes your boss tick, it can be more charming.

In general: Always negotiate in a friendly, objective and calm manner. There's a fine line between being confident and outrageous arrogance. Whoever overstimulates not only does not get a raise, but also damages their image. So state your desired salary - as specifically as possible: “I want to earn 10 percent more in the coming year.” Then stop saying anything. They are silent. The silence underlines your determination.

Of course, the boss will ask why. Thanks to the service portfolio, you have strong arguments for this. You name them - and are silent again. You are not a supplicant and do not ask for alms, but negotiate for nothing less than the equivalent of your (current and future) work.

Salary increase tip: Make an opening offer

Always make the first bid! The opening bid has an enormous psychological effect - the "opening effect", as studies around Thomas Mussweiler from the University of Würzburg prove. What works psychologically is the anchor effect. In order to be able to measure the value of a thing, our brain searches for comparative values. If it doesn't find it, a number picked out of the air is sufficient as a reference point. Or just the opening bid.

Todd Thorsteinson from the University of Idaho found out that this can even be ridiculously high. In the experiment, the candidate demanded an annual salary of a whopping $ 100,000 with a humorous undertone. The humor was important in order not to appear completely stupid. But: Every time the applicant asked for the insane amount, he ended up with a significantly higher salary.

Can I request a raise after a year?

Too often, you shouldn't ask for a salary adjustment. Ideally, there are twelve to 24 months between each raise. Such demands always need good reasons. Also note the current economic situation of the company. If a few thousand jobs are being cut, it would be insensitive to ask for a 10 percent pay increase. Likewise if the department is on fire internally because annual targets have not been met. Conversely: If the economy picks up, you can talk about special payments. Or when you exceed your goals. But avoid the impression of being greedy.

Demand a raise: the best times

Each salary increase is also a confirmation of previous performance. Accordingly, there are good times for a salary negotiation:

  • After passing the probationary period
    At the end of the probationary period, you have proven that you can do the job and are up to the demands. So a small raise could be in there.
  • During the employee appraisal
    At the “annual interview”, employees and superiors take stock: performance, achievement of goals, future projects. Those who do well here have strong arguments for a raise.
  • With the promotion
    Anyone who progresses one step on the career ladder has usually shown the best performance and takes on more responsibility. That should be rewarded accordingly.
  • In the case of a transfer
    When employees are given new responsibilities internally or change departments, this is a good time to talk about a higher salary.
  • When the employment contract is extended
    You previously had a fixed-term employment contract. It will now be converted into a permanent one. Usually for good reasons. They also speak in favor of a raise.
  • With a new fixed-term employment contract
    Anyone who subsequently receives a second, fixed-term employment contract should always renegotiate their salary.
  • Just before the end of a successful project
    According to studies, the best time. Then you are still needed to achieve the goal. But success is within reach. This “appreciation climax” also signals the perfect time for a salary increase.

Who is the right contact person for a salary increase?

Always the direct line manager and HR manager. For example, team leaders, department heads or managing directors. This person must be authorized to negotiate your salary. Please never ignore the direct boss! Not even if he refused the request. That always backfires and puts a lasting strain on your relationship. In that case, you'd better get support from the works council or a salary coach.

A raise is a demand, not a coercion

If you don't get what you want: NEVER threaten! And certainly not with termination. Motto: "If I don't get any more salary, I'll go ..." Only beginners do that: First, it's coercion, but at least an attempt at blackmail. No boss in the world will accept it because it would send the wrong signal for future negotiations.

You can, however, say that you are dissatisfied with your current salary and that this is not customary in the market or that it is too low. This gives the salary increase the character of a “retention bonus”. According to studies by Anne Gielen from Tilburg University, the boss pays more money for two reasons: When it comes to an important employee who otherwise leaves. And if he thought of it himself.

How much money can i ask?

As a rule, increases of three to ten percent are possible. Larger salary jumps of up to 20 percent are only made when changing jobs. Or if you are poached. However, you should NEVER go into an interview without an exact salary expectation. First of all, you should know all the alternatives in case the boss refuses a raise. For example, success bonuses, special leave, home office days, staff discounts or fuel vouchers.

Such extras are often tax and social security free for employers and can be deducted as business expenses. That makes them more attractive than a raise. You also show a willingness to compromise. That puts the boss in a morally inferior position. He has to move now too if he is to feel fair.

Paycheck: How To Determine Your Market Value

Your salary expectations should correspond to your own qualifications, the industry, the region and position as well as the expected performance. If the salary requirement is 20 percent above the current market value, maneuver yourself out of bounds. Our free salary tables offer you a good starting point for comparing salaries. You can also use our free paycheck.

There is another trick to determine its market value: take your absolute minimum wage - and double it. Although the method only provides an approximate value, in practice it leads to surprisingly realistic and enforceable values.

Can I renegotiate if my estimate is too low?

Unfortunately, no. Or only again when there are new arguments for more money. Good and extensive preparation is your responsibility. The boss doesn't have to pay for sloppiness. Once the negotiation is over and you shake hands, the outcome will prevail. They finally agreed on it. If you have the impression that you have been ripped off and are still being paid unfairly, all you can do for a short time is to change employers.

What are the best arguments in favor of salary negotiation

The worst argument is comparisons. Motto: “But colleague XY deserves more.” So what? There are different salary levels in every organization. Perhaps the colleague does more, has more experience, better specialist knowledge, and and and. A comparison of colleagues is not an argument, but complaining at a high level.

The better case for higher salaries is your value to the team. Make it clear what role you play in the department and which projects have become a success thanks to your work: Where do you increase sales or reduce costs? Where do you have more responsibility or do you go beyond the normal range? There are three options for the order of the arguments:

  • Strategy 1-2-3:
    State your strongest argument first - others with decreasing persuasiveness. Disadvantage of this strategy: In the end you have the weakest argument in your head and only negotiate that.
  • Strategy 3-2-1:
    Here you start with the weakest argument and end with the strongest. This is how you draw attention to your best point. Disadvantage: The conversation starts weakly.
  • Strategy 2-3-1:
    Here, the highlights are optimally distributed: They start with a strong argument and end with a better one. The boss can hardly contradict that.

Conversely: never let rhetorical games unsettle you. Some bosses iron out their salary claims by saying that they were dissatisfied with their previous performance. A classic that should unsettle you. In that case, check back factually: "Which services were specifically below your expectations?"

Or the supervisor refers to his limited budget. No problem either. After all, that's exactly what you want to change: You are helping to increase sales, offer added value, more ideas ... So his room for maneuver increases. With this tactic of "follow up and turn around", many a salary increase can be successfully implemented.

Psychological trick for negotiation: use instincts

Instead of convincing the boss with arguments and rhetoric, appeal to his lower instincts. Salary Negotiation Example: Calculate why you should earn 10 percent more salary - and ask for 15 percent. The boss will of course do the math and show you how wrong you are - 10 percent would be appropriate. "That's right, you are right, my mistake," you give in. But now there is no longer any reason to negotiate. The boss himself has just worked out why 10 percent is appropriate. And still feels like a clever winner. Make sure you leave him believing!

Can I talk to colleagues about the raise?

If confidentiality has not been expressly agreed, you may - but should not. Better to be discreet. Anyone who brag about a successful raise only arouses the envy of colleagues. And - what is worse - their desires. This disturbs the working atmosphere and makes future salary negotiations more difficult. Chat bags not only annoy the boss, they also undermine his trust.

Always fix the salary increase in writing

Negotiating is good, better fixing. No matter how harmonious the conversation turned out to be, how much the raise turned out to be, write down a record. Some bosses may no longer remember verbal agreements. In addition, the boss could change his mind. Therefore: Make a report of the results, which is signed by both.



If you would like to read more tips on raising and negotiating salaries: We have put together a complete ABC with 26 tips and tricks for you, which you can download HERE as a PDF for free.

The 3 worst mistakes in salary negotiation

There are many things you can do right in salary negotiation - but also some mistakes. These can cost money. To avoid tripping yourself up, avoid the following negotiation mistakes:

Too few arguments

Thorough preparation is the be-all and end-all for a successful salary negotiation. Those who naively start a conversation or rely solely on their rhetorical skills, fail more often. What counts when it comes to a raise are good arguments:

Good arguments

+ Sales increases
+ Cost reductions
+ Further development
+ More responsibility
+ More performance

Bad arguments

- Private costs
- Planned acquisitions
- Peer comparisons
- More stress
- threat of dismissal

Too many emotions

Never react offended or out loud. Objectivity alone wins. Anyone who gets emotional or moral in the salary negotiation or has a wrong tone of voice has already lost. In fact, that means: "I've just run out of arguments, now I can only drum a little on the bush or press the lacrimal gland." Very bad style. And no argument.

Selling below value

If you're going for a raise, don't be a measly one, please. Nobody takes the salary negotiation seriously if he or she senses that they are not realistically assessing themselves and your market value. This is especially true if the desired salary is too low. The employer gets away with it cheaply. But for you this is a major disadvantage. You not only lose respect, but also in the future with every further salary adjustment. This is usually negotiated on a percentage basis. So if you want to reach a certain salary level, you have to negotiate well and the maximum every time.

More money? Curious studies on salary

The issues of salary and salary increases are always a reason for scientists to undertake or determine sometimes strange studies and correlations. The results range from insightful to amusing. That's why we didn't want to withhold from you:

  • 6 percent more thanks to body size
    A raise is sometimes just a matter of inches. Men who are taller than 1.82 meters bring home almost six percent more salary. This is what researchers at Guildhall University in London calculated.
  • Thin women and fat men deserve more
    Overweight and obesity are considered handicaps in the job (see halo effect). This also has an impact on the salary, according to a study by economist Marco Caliendo from the University of Potsdam: According to this, slim women earn more than fat women. The salary was highest with a body mass index (BMI) of 21.5. It was the other way around for men: if they are thin, they earn little. Men earn the most with a BMI of 23 or over.
  • Bosses with daughter pay more
    Unfortunately, it does exist: wage discrimination. Women earn an average of 21 percent less than men. But there is a “girl bonus”: If the boss has a daughter, he pays female employees more. Scientists working with Michael S. Dahl from Aalborg University in Denmark were able to prove this. So if your boss is going to be the father of a daughter in the near future, you should address a raise.
  • Education is worth it
    According to a study by the Institute for Labor Market and Occupational Research (IAB), an additional year of education later brings a wage increase of five percent. For example, those who have invested 16 years in their education have an average of 25 percent higher income over their entire working life. Experts speak of the "Mincer coefficient" or "return on education".

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