6 secrets to confidently negotiate your worth and get what you want

Apr 22, 2021

I walked into my boss’s office, palms sweating and heart racing.

It was early in my career and my first real negotiation discussion. I was about to ask for the pay-rise I believed I deserved based on my performance and financial results.

Despite this, I became tongue-tied and ended up accepting terms I wasn’t happy with. Less than what I knew I was worth (and one of my male colleagues had negotiated).

Do you struggle to negotiate your worth? Have a tendency to lose confidence and accept less than what you want?

It doesn’t matter how confident you are in front of clients or speaking about your area of expertise. I worked in sales and negotiated with large corporations every day. A lot of my clients are lawyers and negotiate for a living.

But when it comes to our careers and ‘selling ourselves’, many people struggle.

Whether you want a promotion, pay-rise or job offer, you must know your value and how to communicate it with confidence.

Over the past 12 years, I’ve helped hundreds of individuals secure salary increases and learn to effectively negotiate. With annual performance reviews upon us, today I’m sharing my biggest insider secrets.

Read on to discover how to confidently negotiate your worth. Follow these six simple tips to get exactly what you want!

SECRET #1 — KNOW WHAT YOU’RE WORKING TOWARDS

How does your employer measure success? What are the performance expectations? Are there specific targets?

It sounds simple, yet so many mid-career professionals I work with lack clarity on this. They assume it’s hitting certain financial or performance targets — but a lot of people haven’t ever asked! So they could be correct, or completely off track.

Don’t leave this to chance!

If you don’t know what you’re working towards, how do you know you’re meeting expectations? If you’re not reaching all required criteria, you’ll struggle to negotiate what you want.

Starting a new role? Make sure you’re clear on performance expectations upfront.

SECRET #2 — GET FEEDBACK NOW

A lot of individuals are basing their performance on very vague feedback. ‘I think they’re happy with me.’ ‘My boss was grateful for the work I did on X project.’

To be in a strong negotiating position, you must know exactly how you’re tracking against performance objectives. Knowing this information also allows you to bridge any gaps ahead of a negotiation discussion.

Get specific, meaningful feedback NOW. Do this before your next salary negotiation, career conversation or performance review.

SECRET #3 — RECOGNISE YOUR WORTH

Effective negotiation is about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. You need to be able to answer: Why do you deserve this promotion or pay-rise?

For salary negotiations, do your research. Understand pay rates for your role and level of experience and use this to back-up what you’re asking for. Salary surveys, job adverts, recruiters, external colleagues and mentors are all good sources.

Whether you want a pay rise or promotion, collecting evidence of your success is critical. Gather specific examples of your results including personal fees generated or clients introduced. Also consider demonstrated leadership experience or costs saved (for the business or clients).

If you believe you’re bringing in 70% of your own workload — what evidence do you have of this? Always use metrics, data and exact examples to support what you’re saying.

SECRET #4 — CLARIFY WHAT YOU WANT

Before any career negotiation, start by getting clear on your ultimate goal. What is the ideal outcome you want? Then, your bottom-line — or the minimum you’re willing to accept.

Also, write down the different outcomes you’re after. This gives you room to negotiate and increases your chances of getting what you want.

Say your goal is a $30K pay-rise and your walk-away point is $10K. In this case, a $20K or $15K increase may be the various levels you’re happy to agree to. Also, don’t forget to consider and ask for any other benefits that are important to you.

SECRET #5 — SEEK TO UNDERSTAND

It’s natural to feel nervous about negotiation discussions. But always remember, negotiations are a two-way conversation. Ask open-ended questions to understand your manager’s position.

If they decline or counter your salary increase request, get curious. How did you calculate this? This opens up the discussion and reveals if there’s room to negotiate further.

What are the opportunities for progression (a promotion or raise, how much and when)? Take a long-term view, especially if this is your first conversation. You may decide to negotiate a review in 3-6 months based on performance to close any gaps identified.

SECRET #6 — NEVER ACCEPT THE FIRST OFFER

Never accept the first offer presented to you! Ask lots of questions to keep the conversation going. Stay focused on what you’re after and the different levels of outcomes you’re comfortable with.

It can be easy to lose confidence in a negotiation and accept less than what you want. If you’re feeling under pressure, request a follow-up discussion in 24-48 hours. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for time to consider any offer.

This gives you time to reset and refocus on what you want. Then, continue the conversation from a clear, confident position.

These expert secrets have helped my clients increase their income, confidence and successfully negotiate the employment terms they’re after. I hope these tips support you too!

Want help to negotiate your worth and get what you want?

Find out more about my 60-minute Coaching Intensives where we can dive deeper into this challenge — or one other specific area you’re needing support with.

Contact me HERE to get started!

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving corporate leaders and business owners at a mid-career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms.

Stacey also supports professionals to transition from their corporate job into their own consulting business. She works virtually with individuals based across Australia and internationally.