Don’t Let Inflation Get in The Way of a Salary Hike

Negotiate your way to a bigger paycheck — even with rising inflation.

The U.S. labor sector is starting to lose momentum at the mid-point of 2022, with brand name companies like Netflix  (NFLX) – Get Netflix Inc. Report, Carvana  (CVNA) – Get Carvana Co. Class A Report, Stitch Fix  (SFIX) – Get Stitch Fix Inc. Report, and PayPal  (PYPL) – Get PayPal Holdings Inc. Report, among others, announcing layoffs recently.

A rising mountain of pink slips can have an indirect influence on companies and employees, too. Take career professionals who, while likely safe and secure on the job, may be resistant to ask for a raise at a time when many companies are looking to tighten their belts.

Those employees shouldn’t be, experts say.

“For current workers, layoffs can present an opportune time to ask for a raise—especially in an overall strong labor market,” said Ben Cook, CEO of Riva, a Palo Alto, Cal.-based salary coaching platform. “There are fewer people available to do the same amount of work, creating a vacuum that’s immediately felt across the company.”

“Having data and knowledge about your position, a skill set and high-value contributions can give you the leverage you need to earn more,” Cook added.

Salary-Pumping Tips From Career Management Experts

U.S. workers have more leverage than they may think when it comes to getting a raise at work. So, what are the best negotiating tips employees can use when seeking a salary hike?

Here are a few ideas salary negotiators can put to good use.

Play the inflation card. Career professionals may not realize it, but companies are fully aware that rising inflation (at 8.6% from May 2021 to May 2022) could drive a new wave of resignations from talented employees with other options, unless they address employee compensation. Consequently, right now is actually a good time for employees to leverage economic conditions to ask for a more robust salary.

“Workers should get ahead by presenting the 8.6% number before employers can anchor on a smaller amount,” Cook said. “Know that if an employer is not giving 8.6%, it is effectively a pay cut.”

Settle for non cash-based benefits and perks. If a company continues to procrastinate on a salary bump, ask if there are any other non-cash elements that are important to you. “For instance, asking to work home an extra day a week can help you save on gas, train tickets, or other commuting expenses,” said Dawid Wiacek, a career coach at New York-based Career Fixer.

Don’t stop there – think about other benefits and perks that you can weave into your request. “For some people, it’s all about the money, but most of my clients tend to be interested in vacation/time off, flex work, healthcare benefits,” Wiacek told TheStreet.

Do your homework first. Employees looking for a salary hike should first conduct a careful job self-performance analysis.

“Objectively analyze your worth and current contributions to the company,” said Tali Raphaely, president at Armour Title Company and author of the book “The Complete Guide on How to Negotiate”.

Raphaely advises carefully considering your value to the company, especially at a time when so many businesses are weathering the storm of increasing costs.

“If you’re a big part of the solution then you have more leverage,” Raphaely told TheStreet. “Tread more lightly if you’re already expensive and there are others who could step in to fill your role if the employer needs to cut more costs.”

Make a case that you’re especially valuable right now. During your negotiations highlight how you can help the company cut costs and/or bring in additional revenue. 

“Show how you can take over someone else’s role to save the company money, and how you can bring in more business right now,” Raphaely said. “Show the employer how keeping you happy benefits the bottom line. Don’t focus on why you need more money because of inflation. Instead, direct the conversation from the company’s perspective.”

Be aggressive, if required. Employees looking for a raise should know how to read a room in a salary negotiation.

“Be smart about it,” Abhijeet Narvekar, CEO at Career Unleashed, in Houston, Tx., told TheStreet. “For example, if human resources as a company policy are giving 7% increase to all staffers because of inflation, and you think you overperformed on your goals, then negotiate another 5%-to-10% on top of the 7% number.”

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