The most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the cost of goods and services rose 8.5% between March 2021 and March 2022. That means the price of everything from groceries to electric bills jumped up over the past year – and only a lucky minority of Americans saw their paychecks keep up with those spikes.
As inflation grows, you’re effectively making less money as your purchasing power shrinks. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s actually a good time to negotiate for a better salary, says Eloise Eonnet, career coach and founder of Eloquence.
“There’s a huge amount of power that employees currently have today,” Eonnet says. “Companies are freaking out right now about people leaving, retention is a huge problem. It’s not about coming in with a threat or with an ultimatum, but it’s saying, ‘I want to stay here, I’m dedicated.'”
Eonnet’s biggest tip when it comes to asking for more money is to start by doing your research. Find out what the salary range is for your role and in your area (or comparable metro areas). You can look online at sites like Glassdoor, or reach out to people on LinkedIn who have similar roles. “It’s surprising how willing people are to help out,” she says.
Even if rising inflation is the reason you’re asking for a raise, don’t make it the primary reason you give your boss.
“Really make sure that the way you’re approaching those conversations, you’re coming from a place where you’re not just asking for more money, but you’re actually making a case for the amount of value that you bring,” Eonnet says.
She suggests leading by summarizing the value you’ve brought to the company thus far and then explaining what you hope to do in the coming year.
Making the conversation primarily about inflation and your lost purchasing power – while those are real concerns – centers the conversation on global events rather than your performance and value, Eonnet says.
“What employers are looking for is the value that you can contribute. How are you going to impact the bottom line? The development of clients coming in? The creativity around the product that you’re developing? That’s what they really care about, and so leading with what impacts them the most is going to be the most impactful way to have that conversation.”
You should also practice what you’re going to say out loud or with a friend so you feel confident when the time comes to have the conversation, she suggests.
If you get pushback or your boss is unable to match the salary you’re looking for, you might want to consider asking for different ways the company can meet you in the middle. You can ask for increased retirement contributions, more vacation days, or more flexibility and the option to work from home, Eonnet suggests.
And if all else fails, and you don’t get the support you were looking for from your employer, you still have options. “There’s a fantastic job market out there and job seekers are negotiating really good starting salaries for signing bonuses currently,” Eonnet says. “So there’s always that option.”