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Building your rationale for a pay increase

Written By: Jillian Climie.

One of the most important parts of asking for more money is having a strong rationale. Below I’ve identified key steps to help you build this.

First, identify your strengths.

It might seem trivial, but identifying your unique strengths and being able to confidently and concisely articulate them is, in our view, one of the most impactful ways to negotiate your pay. To get started, ask yourself these questions: what is it about you that no one else can do on the team? What would the company or team lose if they didn’t have you on board? These can be key skills (e.g., I’m the only person who has the ability to use python programming language), but they also can be softer strengths (e.g., I’m the only person who has the demonstrated ability to successfully motivate and engage cross-functional teams). Use examples of positive feedback you might have received from your leader or team in the past to help you build these strengths out.

Within this, also think about what you are inherently good at. What comes naturally to you? Referencing friends, family, colleagues or mentors to support in identifying these will be helpful. We recommend picking one person from each of these groups, and asking them what they think you are best at. It can be illuminating to hear what others think your natural strengths are, as we often miss these ourselves.

Next, consolidate your strengths.

You will now likely have a list of numerous strengths and unique skills. The next step is to consolidate these into just three impactful points to be able to speak to in your negotiation. The idea is for each of these points to demonstrate different, but equally important value that you contribute to the team, leader or company. As I wrote in my article 5 Common Negotiation Mistakes, three strengths are likely to stay in someone’s mind, whereas fifteen strengths are tough to remember. Overloading with too much information in a negotiation can distract from your ask.

Within your three points, make sure each strength has an example of how you’ve showcased that strength, and ideally is tied to a key company metric (e.g., revenue, profitability, time savings, new clients, new projects, etc). Metrics demonstrate the gravity of your contributions, and build the "what's in it for me" perspective for your leader.

Third, practice.

Once you have your three points, it’s crucial to practice how you will say them to ensure it comes across powerfully. In negotiations, how you say things can sometimes be as important as what you say, especially for women. It’s tempting to skip this step, but this is where we see the differentiation between good negotiators and great negotiators. Practicing will allow you to more closely control how you are perceived. Additionally, it will give you confidence going into the negotiation, as you’ll know exactly what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Working with a coach, or even just a friend or family member, can help you perfect your points.

Lastly, identify external factors for back up.

You may have some key external factors that you want to include – for example, market data for the role, or inflation, or the current economic environment. While we don’t recommend basing your whole ask around these (in most situations), it can be helpful to gather any external points to have as back-up in case they come up in the conversation.


Book an introductory call with us at The Thoughtful Co if you’re going through a new job offer, performance review or internal negotiation process – or just want to talk about your compensation with your leader. We help our clients on average achieve a +25% increase in their compensation packages. We would love to support!


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