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3 Ways to Negotiate Your Salary When the Odds Are Against You

By 18/05/2017May 27th, 2020I Need A New Job
Negotiate your salary tips

Let’s talk about money and making more of it.

I’m curious if you’ve ever thought...“I want to make more money, but there’s no use in asking for a raise at my current job. There are too many reasons I’ll get a no.”

This came up in the Work Bigger community. 

If this sounds familiar, you may be dealing with some of these roadblocks:

  • You have to ask your boss who intimidates you and has said “no” in the past.
  • You received a raise recently, but it’s still way below market – so asking for a significant jump feels like a joke.
  • You’re leaving the company soon-ish, so why bother?
  • It’s not the right time because budgets are reviewed at the end of the year.
  • Asking isn’t encouraged in your company culture.
  • You don’t know how to negotiate.

How do you tackle these?

There’s a 100 percent chance you won’t earn more money if you don’t negotiate your salary; but if you do ask, your odds are better no matter what.

Here are 3 ways to negotiate your salary when the odds are against you. 

1. Sort the Challenges: What’s BIG vs. Workable

Not all roadblocks are created equal. Some of the roadblocks on your list may feel extra challenging while others may be easier to solve.

For example, the first issue, having to negotiate with a difficult boss may be on your “biggest challenges” list. Negotiating can be nerve-wracking, and it can also be demotivating if you feel there’s no way to bring the other person on your side.

On the contrary, more manageable roadblocks may include challenges that when left to stand on their own, aren’t as overwhelming. (i.e. you don’t know how to negotiate – there’s always a way and you can learn anything!) With some work, you can find and implement a solution.

Check in with your gut when reviewing your list: Which roadblocks feel more daunting, and which ones are low-hanging fruit?

There won’t be a solution for everything, but if you try to find the solution in some things, your perception may shift.

Similarly, be fully aware and keep a pulse on the more challenging roadblocks (e.g. a horrible boss, budget, recently received a raise.) You can think of ways to tackle these in your strategy, and in the case you can’t, you’ll ask anyway having greater awareness of your circumstances.

2. Develop a Strategy

Preparation is key. Before you make the ask, get clear on the following:


What’s your ideal number? Be honest, and aim high. What would make you really happy? Forget about what’s “realistic” for the moment; instead, focus on what feels great given your experience and the market rate.

Always ask for higher than your target number. For example, if you want to make $65K, ask for $70K or $75K (given you have a strong rationale and data to back up this ask). It’s unlikely you’ll get a YES right away, so you need to create a buffer to get as close as possible to your target number.

Your Bottom Line

What’s the lowest you’re willing to accept? Maybe it’s your current salary or a number slightly higher. Get clear on your boundaries, and don’t share your bottom line with the other party.


Why are you asking for this raise? What have you done to earn it? This is where you should spend a lot of time preparing your story and using any data to drive your point home. To make this even stronger, go back to the reasons you’ll get a no. What’s your comeback for each challenge? 

For example, if you recently received a raise, and the jump to your target number is so much higher, how can you provide proof that you’re worth the significant jump? If the timing isn’t right because of budget planning, when is the right time? And what can you do in the meantime so that once budget planning hits, your raise is baked into that new budget.

Prepare to tackle any objections through questioning and collaboration.

3. Work on Your Plan B

If you’re a long-time reader of this site, then you know the workplace is changing. Having a side hustle is typical. So if your company isn’t giving you that raise, and you’re not feeling valued, what’s your plan B?

Are you looking to find a new full time gig, or are you working on a side hustle. If this 9 to 5 isn’t forever because you’re going to be an entrepreneur someday, start working on that now. What do you need to do to get your business moving?

There isn’t only one way to bring in an income (e.g. your boss saying YES to your raise). There are several side-hustle options today that can (1) offer you the opportunity to gain a new skill-set so you can more confidently advocate for more money at work, (2) lead you to a better job or (3) lead you to running your own business.

The goal is to  consistently increase your revenue, whether your company says yes or no to your ask. Set yourself up for success sooner than later, and never put a limit on your earnings.

In Conclusion: Negotiate Your Salary, Even If You Think the Odds Are Against You

“The only way I was going to determine my own future was to do it myself.”- Ina Garten on starting her own business.

We’re not in control of everything, but we do have some control in how we respond to roadblocks and problems. There’s a solution for everything. We just have to look for it.

Now tell me in the comments, what’s the greatest insight you’ve taken from this article on how to negotiate your salary? And, what’s one thing you can do to increase your chances of getting a YES during your next negotiation?

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Leah says:

    LOVE THIS BELMA! :] *all of the emojis*

    My biggest take away – Sorting the challenges. What lower hanging fruit can be reached for now? What steps can be taken to address at least ONE of the roadblocks, if not a few? Definitely going to be taking a look at this because more often than not, when I look at the “reasons” I’m not doing something, I know deep down they’re more likely “excuses”.

    I think I also need to take some time to discern my real ‘value add’ – I’d like to get clear on what my strengths are and how to explain those to someone else, as an anecdote rather than just telling them on a resume or in a list. Knowing you have a lot to offer is one thing – explaining it to someone else has always been a challenge for me. Definitely past time to address this! :]

    Thanks for another great article – you offer so much to think on!


    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Thanks for your comment Leah! So excited to hear of the insights that you took from this. Really brave of you to call out that some excuses exist within the roadblocks. And I agree – it’s key to be communicate your value even if you know it. And that’s a big part of negotiating…ensuring the other side understands your side so you can bring them on board with your vision. Let us know how it goes and thanks again for your thoughts here!

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