How to ask for more money

You won't get the salary you think you deserve if you don't start the conversation.

How to ask for more money

Put more money in your pocket.

Are you getting paid what you’re worth? The fact is, many people are simply too intimidated to ask, or don’t know how to negotiate. A recent survey from staffing firm Robert Half reveals that only 39% of professionals said they tried to negotiate salary during their last job offer. If you don’t negotiate for a higher salary when you are hired, or for a raise while you’re on the job, chances are you’re costing yourself a lot of money.

“All of your bonuses and all future raises come on that base salary,” says Robin Ryan, career counselor and author of 60 Seconds and You’re Hired. “If you negotiate and get $10,000 more to start, that’s significant.” In fact, over a working lifetime, she says, not negotiating can cost the average person as much as $1 million.

Now that you know up to seven figures could be on the line, it’s time to change your mindset and ask for what you’re worth. “Some people don’t ask because they’re not knowledgeable on their market value,” says Josh Howarth, district president for Robert Half. “They haven’t done their research as to what their experience should pay in the marketplace.” However, with a strong economy and low unemployment, there’s no reason that job seekers shouldn’t feel comfortable at the negotiating table, he adds.

Inspired to ask for more money? Here are three techniques you can try.

The wait-them-out method (job seekers only)

If you’re going through the job interview process, don’t be so quick to answer or bring up salary questions. “Whoever mentions money first loses,” says Ryan. You want to be very coy and not reveal your salary history (in fact, in some states, it’s now illegal for them to even ask you about it). You also don’t want to share the salary range you’re aiming for, even though you should have a number in mind.

If it comes up, you can say something like: “I don’t know enough about the job yet to be able to zero in on a salary,” suggests Ryan.

Remember, you’re in a position of power as long as you’ve done your research ahead of time, says Howarth. “Educate yourself on market value and the unemployment rates for the type of position you’re applying for, and understand the difficulty the employer is having to find someone for that job,” he says.

That way, once an offer is made, you can speak to the value of the job you’re interviewing for, rather than basing your request on what you made in your previous position.

For current employees, though, you definitely don’t have to wait around for your yearly review to negotiate up. Timing the discussion right will depend on the state of your company and your recent accomplishments. “If you’ve just done a really big project, and completed it to the accolades of everyone, that’s a great time to ask for a raise,” says Ryan.

The never-accept-the-first-offer approach (for job seekers and current employees)

Once a company decides to hire you and makes you an offer, that’s when you need to show some restraint—don’t take the job right away. “Their first offer is not the best offer,” says Ryan. “Ask them to talk about it before you accept. These minutes are the most important minutes in your career.”

Try saying a variation of this: “Considering my experience and the skills I bring, I thought your offer was a little low.”

They will either respond with, “That’s the best we can do,” or, “Let me talk to HR and see what we can do,” says Ryan. If they deem you a good fit, don’t be surprised if they come back with 10%–25% higher than the first offer, she says.

If the number isn’t what you were hoping for, remember that salary isn’t the only thing you can negotiate, says Howarth. “Time off, work schedules, the benefits package… the salary piece is important, but don’t get too hung up on that,” he says.

Some examples of things you can ask for that equate to more money in your pocket, or value for you:

  • “I’m leaving a company where I got four weeks of vacation and you’re only offering one. Can we meet in the middle?”
  • “Your company requires that I pay $300 a month toward my medical benefits, but right now I have 100% coverage. Is there somewhere we can work in that amount I’m losing?”
  • “This commute is going to be costly for me. Will you consider offering a travel stipend, or allowing me to work from home one or two days?”

Keep these tactics in mind if you want to negotiate for more money and perks with your current employer as well. Instead of settling for a standard quality of life raise, give them a solid reason to pay you more. “You’re going to go to them on a basis of merit. You can say, ‘When I took this job, here was my original description, and here’s what I’m doing now. Look what I’ve learned; I have more responsibility,’” says Ryan.

The key is you need to focus on what you’ve done for the company (and will be doing going forward), not about your financial needs. If you go in and say you bought a house or your kids are changing schools and you need more money, that’s not the company’s problem, says Ryan.

The data approach (for current employees)

When you make the negotiation about numbers and take the emotion out of it, you put yourself in a better position, says Howarth.

“What’s the specific ROI you provided to the company as a result of your work? You have to try to exhibit your worth to the organization,” he says.

The other thing you can do is go to your supervisor armed with research. Use a survey that was done by your industry association, or by looking at the regional average salary for your position so you can show evidence if you’re underpaid or on the low end of the salary range, says Ryan.

If you’re offered a higher-paying position with another company, “you can go to your boss and see if they can match it—just don’t ever bluff,” she adds.

Whether you’re seeking a new job or trying to advance in the one you’ve got, don’t make the mistake of underestimating your value. Remember, it costs companies a lot of money to recruit and retain new talent, so if you’re good at what you do, don’t be afraid to ask for more money. The worst they can do is say no, but more likely, you’ll end up with a higher paycheck.

Know what to ask for and when to ask for it (everyone)

Salary is just one piece of the pie when it comes to your compensation; you should be aware of all the possible benefits and perks that could be within your reach, either at your current job or your next one. Want to know what could potentially be on the table and how to ask for it? Join Monster today. As a member, you’ll get career advice, news on workplace trends, and job search tips sent straight to your inbox so you can make sure your job keeps up with the ever-changing times. (And if it doesn’t, we can also help you get one that does.)