How to Negotiate Anything From Salary to More Vacation

Whether you've been at your job for six months or six years, chances are your paycheck is something you not only depend on, it's something you anticipate each pay period. If you follow our Neighbor News column, and have taken our stellar advice, you know exactly what you have after your bills are paid, your savings squared away, and your rainy day fund supported. After all of this responsible budget allocation, you may find yourself day-dreaming about having just a little extra to buy a nice coffee, get your nails done, buy an ATV, or even plane tickets to an exotic locale for you and your family.

Well, what if we could help you get more money in your paycheck? Or more paid vacation time, or better benefits at your office? It's time to learn the art of negotiation – and like any art form, it takes practice. Here are five tips to help you get from "I wish..." to a bigger paycheck, better rewards, and more time off:

  1. Research! You can't just walk into your manager's office and demand a raise or extra perks without being able to show a) why you deserve a raise, and b) how you're request measures against industry averages for your job and experience level. Start with your value to the company, the unique things that you bring to the workplace, then back it up with some numbers., and are great resources for average industry pay for your job.
  2. Solve the company's problems. Every company needs problem solvers, people willing to tackle those issues that for whatever reason are relegated to the back burner. Start by asking yourself, "what's something that could be better within the company – and how can I improve it?" From there, use your skills of observation and come up with a plan that will uniquely position you to be the problem solver of the company – and therefore an invaluable hire or deserving of a raise.
  3. Create a proposal. Using the information you've sleuthed out in steps 1 & 2, create a multi-page proposal that outlines the company's current pain points, and how you plan to solve them and when. When the hiring manager asks you what your salary needs are, use this proposal as an opportunity to highlight your worth to the company, setting the stage for you to negotiate a bigger paycheck.
  4. Have a fallback plan. Know that you might have to ask for more than you really think feasible in order to get what you want. Sound sneaky? It's not. It's a basic negotiation tactic. Know your worth and settle only when you're satisfied you have presented the best possible case you can.
  5. Practice makes perfect. Seriously, if you're new to negotiating, don't make your salary negotiation your first go at it. Try it out on vendors at the farmers market, your mechanic, a Facebook Marketplace ad for a couch you want – whatever it takes until you feel confident.

Now that you are armed with a few tips for negotiating your salary, you're ready to take the next step. And when you see the return in your next paycheck, be sure to celebrate a little bit before heading to your local branch of North Country Savings Bank to fill out that deposit slip.

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