Negotiating a salary offer
For those employees who have been lucky enough to keep their jobs or get job offers during the recession, negotiating a higher salary or asking for a raise may not be top-of-mind.

In the last few years, most people have taken pay cuts or remained at the same wage, so if you haven't gotten a raise in two years, that could be fine. However, it may be perfectly appropriate, even necessary, to roll the dice and ask for a higher wage.

Determining this depends a lot on your industry and your company, says Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis at Payscale.com.

"Some companies are very proactive and are trying to preempt the employee being dissatisfied with their income," Lee says, giving the example of Google's announcement last fall that they would give every employee a 10 percent raise. "The risk of waiting [for a raise to be offered rather than asking] is that if your company isn't proactive, your wages may fall behind the market substantially."

Payscale.com evaluates factors such as your industry, experience level and job responsibilities and determines your "market price" – one of two parts in a successfully negotiating a raise or salary offer. Read on for some of Lee's other tips.

Asking for a raise



Make sure you deserve what you're asking for. "Some of the people who have been in the labor market for 20 or 30 years have this notion that you get a raise every year or two years, but that was mostly just inflation," Lee says. "There is no raise you get anymore for doing the same work for the same employer."

However, if your responsibilities have increased or you're making well be low market price for your job duties and skill set, it might be time to schedule a meeting with the boss.

Lee also notes that the younger and less experienced you are, the more common it is to see raises at the 10 percent level.

Timing is everything. Pay attention to the company's situation and to your own work. Ideally, you would ask for a raise after you've brought in more revenue or increased business, Lee says. Alternatively, if your employer is struggling financially, a raise probably isn't in the cards.

Pay attention to company rituals. Typically, it's common to evaluate raises about one a year, so don't wait until it's too late, advises Lee. Be aware of when these evaluations are coming and be talking to your boss.

Prepare yourself for any outcome. In this situation, the employer has a slight upper hand, because you're likely not going to leave for 5 percent more pay.

Negotiating a salary offer



Wait until the employer has expressed clear interest in offering you the job.

Understand what your work is worth.

Consider factors like vacation time or bonuses, which are a part of compensation even if they're not included in the salary.

Evaluate your situation. If you've been unemployed for three years, it might be wise to take the job, even if the salary is 15 percent below market price. If you're switching jobs, it's an entirely different scenario.

Don't reveal pay history. "Most companies will have you sign an agreement that says your pay is proprietary information," Lee says. "This turns out to be an easy way to deflect questions about prior pay history. It's polite and makes it seem like your paying attention to your former employer."