Career coach: You can still negotiate for a higher salary during coronavirus — 'we just have to get a little bit creative'

Asking for more money at work can pay off. Here's how to ask for and get a raise during the coronavirus pandemic, according to career coach Melanie Feldman.


Asking for more money at work can pay off: Almost three-quarters, 70%, of people who ask for a raise get one, according to a 2018 survey from career site PayScale. The problem: Even before the pandemic, less than half of people, 37%, felt brave enough to ask.

It understandably feels scarier right now, when companies are cutting costs and jobs, and you don't want to rock the boat. But you can still negotiate your salary during the pandemic, and there are ways to better approach that conversation to increase your chances, experts say.

"Just because we're in a pandemic doesn't mean you shouldn't be valued for the work that you're doing or getting the compensation that you want," says career coach Melanie Feldman, co-author of "Bold: Get Noticed, Get Hired" and the founder of Going Places. "We just have to get a little bit creative."

Pandemic or not, it's important to understand that raise conversations aren't just a one-and-done thing.

"It's nerve wracking," Feldman says. "You have your review, and you're thinking, 'OK, I'm gonna walk in there with my manager, I'm gonna sit them down, I'm gonna ask for a raise.' It can't start there."

Raise talks are a process, and mastering these three elements of that process can help negotiations go in your favor.

1. Establish goals and expectations early

It can be a great idea to introduce the conversation of a raise to your managers well in advance, Feldman says. "Four months before you really want that raise, promotion, or more stock, sit with them and say, 'Hey, I want to work towards this goal. Walk me through exactly what needs to happen to get there,'" she explains.

"Before my one-on-ones, I always send an agenda to my manager, and I make sure one item on that agenda is walking through all of the steps to reach my goals," Feldman says.

The point is to leave that conversation with a plan, knowing exactly what you need to accomplish in order to reach your goal.

Coronavirus: How to negotiate a raise during a pandemic

Video by Mariam Abdallah

2. Keep track of all your accomplishments

Keeping a record of your successes at work can help your boss understand your efforts and contributions when you approach raise conversations.

"Your accomplishments need to have everything to do with what your manager is having you work towards in order to obtain that next level, whether it's a raise or promotion," Feldman says.

List out all the times you completed a project, received positive feedback, or acted as leader on the team. Having this list to present to your manager will bolster your ask, and it will provide you with something to fall back on in case your performance or capabilities are questioned.

"By pointing to the skills, knowledge, and tools you've gained since starting, your employer becomes better aware of your increased value," David Cusick, chief strategy officer and executive editor at House Method, recently told Grow.

Four months before you really want that raise, promotion, or more stock, sit with them and say, 'Hey, I want to work towards this goal.'
Melanie Feldman
career coach and author

3. Look at the situation from your manager's perspective

Supervising teams of employees is not an easy task. "Not only are they managing you, but they're probably managing a lot of people," Feldman says, adding that managers are constantly "trying to think about all of your accomplishments along with everyone on the team's accomplishments."

Make their jobs easier by walking into raise talks with your evidence and accomplishments packaged together. Do your research on what you feel you deserve by using a salary calculator or statistics from sites like Glassdoor or LinkedIn.

"If you can actually do that for your manager, you're one step closer to getting that raise or getting that promotion," Feldman says.

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