How to Successfully Negotiate a 50% Pay Raise

In the summer 2014, Dakota Adams, then 26, decided she wanted to move on from her job for a number of reasons. One, she felt she was undervalued and underappreciated. Two, she was missing out on a good social life, racking up in debt and not getting paid enough. Perhaps, the biggest draws of being underpaid was missing out on the opportunity to make new connections through the course of her career, and all that a great job has to offer. But, that’s not what we’re going to discuss here. In 14 months, she went from $46,000 to $85,000. Curious, how she could successfully negotiate a pay raise? Here’s how:

STEP 1: You’re undervalued? Prove it.

Conduct research on how much your title job is worth. For this, visit,, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Google. However, don’t settle on one single source.

Also, you’ll need to take into consideration the local job market in your city. For example, the entry-level journalists who do cultural reporting in New York cannot afford to live in New York. So, when you decide what the median pay is for what your job title, you also need to be a tad realistic. Dakota Adam’s median pay was $78,000. Meanwhile, her current job was paying her $46,000.

STEP 2: You need a new job, seriously.

Find places of employment in your area, doing what you want to do. Make profiles on Monster, Glassdoor, Indeed and CareerBuilder. Update your resume and start applying for your dream job. While you’re applying for jobs, you will get frustrated repeating the whole process over and over again on a dozen sites. You need to stay patient.

Tailor your resume: Also, make sure you tailor your resume with each and every job application. You can review the job description for insights on how to revise your resume. Review the information and make appropriate revisions to your resume by adding or removing information.

Don’t burn the bridge: You don’t want to damage your career in the long run. You should be on best behavior with your former-bosses and colleagues. Even if you were treated unfairly, the most respectable thing to do is to keep things civil and professional. I know of a young man who mouthed off his old boss when leaving the company found himself having to work with him four years later, as his new VP.

You’ll be amazed at how easy it could be to start getting calls for interviews. The best piece of advice I could give on how to interview is to research on what you have to say and how to say it. Learn how to accent your strengths, and don’t underestimate the power of persistence.

STEP 3: DRUMROLL – Negotiate a pay raise!

You’ll receive offers, both good and bad. One offer might be lower than you had expected. Another offer, could make you realize what you should be making right now. You’ll also receive an offer, where the numbers will look almost surreal to hear. This offer will only validate your earlier doubt that you’re undervalued. Be sure to thank everyone involved in the process, even when all your expectations are crushed.

There’s quite a lot you can negotiate on during the interview process. It’s not just about the salary, but the overall package. Don’t be afraid to tell your employer what you want. At the same time, I would suggest that you don’t go overboard with it.

To negotiate pay raise, you must know your worth. Now you can leverage each of the offers against one another. I would say, this works best when you know that a company wants you. Finally, you must go and tell your boss what’s happening. Be honest about the entire things, because you never know. Your boss may decide to counter offer.

Generally, counter offers are not seen as an ideal option. So, speak to your potential employer, the one place where you want to go and see if they decide to match the salary. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing what you want and getting it.

The Bottom line

Don’t second guess yourself. You take the plunge and you’re going to be on the winning side either way. Adams spent more than two months negotiate for a better lifestyle. The entire process was nerve racking and anxiety inducing. At the end of the day, it was worth it!

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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