Forty-three percent of respondents to PayScale’s Salary Survey said they’ve never negotiated salary in their current field. Most held back out of fear. That’s not necessarily crazy. While it’s true that the majority of people who ask for more money get some kind of raise — 75 percent, according to PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide! — it’s also true that we’re working and negotiating in a post-recession economic environment. It’s not too surprising that 28 percent of respondents say they’re uncomfortable talking about money.
Uncomfortable or no, it’s worth it to ask. Here’s why:
1. If You Don’t Negotiate, Your Real Pay Could Decline
A typical raise is 3 percent. If you get the usual bump, year after year, and never level up, inflation will eat up most of your “raise.” (Take a look at PayScale’s Real Wage Index if you don’t believe us: the buying power of wages for U.S. workers is now 7.4 percent less than it was in 2006.)
That doesn’t mean that you should storm into every annual review demanding a huge increase — in fact, chances are that budgets are set by that point, and that 3 percent increment might be all you can get. But it does mean that when things change — when you take a new job, when you get promoted at your old job, when you exceed your goals — you should be ready to ask for more.
2. Every Raise Is Cumulative
When you negotiate a pay increase, you’re not just getting more money in your next check. You’re also changing the starting point for your next automatic increase. Over the course of your career, that can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Today’s $3,000-$5,000 increase could have a big impact on your future earnings.
3. You Never Know What Else They Might Offer You
When managers run out of extra cash to throw at candidates and team members, they sometimes have other tricks up their sleeve. For example, they might be able to give you more time off, telecommuting privileges, or educational perks that will boost your paycheck down the line. If you never start the conversation, you’ll never know what your options are.