5 Simple Tips for Negotiating Your Next Raise or Promotion

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Negotiating a pay raise or a promotion can be an incredibly intimidating thing to do. So much so that many people will go find a new job rather than going to their manager or HR to discuss a raise! If you like where you work, but also want to love your pay and/or job title, there are a few things to prepare that will help give you the self-confidence you need to make the ask go smoothly!

1) Know what your end-goal is going into the conversation. Is it a raise? If so, what’s your ideal number vs. what are you willing to accept. Is it an increase in vacation days/PTO? Is it a job title change? If so, what job title/position do you want? Is it all of the above? If you know what you want, you are much more likely to get (or exceed!) it.

2) Know your job’s value. We all offer intangible value/worth to companies, but thanks to tools like Glassdoor.com, Salary.com, and Payscale.com, etc., you can easily get an idea of what the market is currently paying for the job you have (or the one you want!). If you find out that you’re already being paid over the market value for your role, maybe it’s time to ask for that step up in job title that could also merit a pay raise?

3) Know what you’ve done to actually merit a raise. Sometimes you’ve just been in a role for a long time, and you’re dealing with a salary compression issue (i.e., if a company had to hire a new person today to replace you, they’d have to pay well beyond what you are currently making), while other times you’ve really gone above and beyond the expectations for your job title. If it’s the issue of salary compression, then sometimes just bringing in the documentation talked about in point 2 above can work, especially when you remind them of all the institutional knowledge you have from your years of experience with them. But if you’re doing a stellar job in your role and are looking for a merit increase, then take the time to create a succinct and easy-to-read document that outlines all of your major accomplishments that you can share with your manager (who could also share it with HR to help make the case for you).

4) Be cognizant of your timing and be ready to listen to understand. If you know when your company budgets are being confirmed, then get your pay raise/promotion request in prior to those budget approvals. Otherwise, your request may be put off or the whole of what you want may not be approved. If you don’t know the budget cycles, then make your case/request, but be ready to hear that they can’t make changes right now. Talk with your manager about what a timeline could look like to getting to your goal salary and/or job title.

5) Remember that there are often multiple paths to getting to where you want to be – don’t be afraid to push back if the offer isn’t what you want. No matter what you are looking for from your company, remember that you don’t want to go into a negotiation with a cynical attitude of, “Give me the raise/promotion I want, or I’m going to leave.” With a positive attitude and a sound case for it, there are often creative solutions to achieving your income goals. Here are a few examples:

  •  If you want a pay raise, but you’re in the top of your salary range or between budget cycles, then ask about potential bonus opportunities. Maybe you can’t get a 10% raise right now, but maybe you can get a discretionary bonus for hitting milestones or certain accomplishments over the next couple of quarters.
  • Ask for that title change/promotion, which will put you into a new salary range
  • If you value your personal time, maybe getting additional PTO/vacation days could be negotiated in lieu of more direct money immediately

While it’s not exactly negotiating, you should also know yourself and what you are willing to do if you get stonewalled or are told that there’s nothing the company can do for you in the foreseeable future. Are you willing to wait for a new role or pay raise to happen, or will you take advantage of an extremely strong job market and look for an external solution outside of your current company?

Written by Elizabeth Blue
Sr. Recruiter at NW Recruiting Partners | Seattle Financial Staffing | Serving Construction | Real Estate | Accounting

Opportunistic Outsourcing

Business coach Peter Drucker was known for dispensing some sage advice that still rings true decades later:

Do what you do best and outsource the rest.

What comes to mind when you hear that mantra? An immediate list likely appears of all the tasks you know are not the greatest use of your efforts and energy. In the 15 seconds, you’ve spent thinking about what pops to mind; you may already have vowed to no longer waste time on select mundane projects or responsibilities that fill your plate, leaving room for much else. “I really need to hire someone to manage my schedule” or “someone else should be responsible for compiling our weekly reports” are certainly reasonable, but the outsourcing we are going to cover in this SRA Update is far more strategic.

Instead of viewing outsourcing as a chance to create more time for you, shift instead to think through how outsourcing could actually create an opportunity for others within your team.

The Shift

Stop thinking of outsourcing as the things you no longer want to do and look instead at the opportunities you could create for others. A great leader is always one step ahead of career path advancement for key contributors. Take a moment (or a few hours) to evaluate each direct report you have; who do you know each are capable of becoming over the next few years and beyond? Now, what do you need to teach each of them to advance their responsibilities and skillsets?

You have now defined your first round of opportunistic outsourcing.

Think less about performance management and think more about professional development. Do you spend the same amount of time talking about where you see a key contributor’s career going as you do talking about how they are doing with deadlines or quotas? Is your coaching equally dedicated to skills that will help them achieve in their current role just as much as prepare them for the next step you believe they could grow into? Do you purposefully put key contributors in situations in which they may fail, but that failure propels growth?

At times, you may need to believe in others a little more than they believe in themselves. The best leaders help their team members discover their genius.

Survivorship Bias

When you focus too heavily on the “survivors” of a given group, you tend to ignore essential qualities about the rest of the population. Take entrepreneurship; we tend to gravitate toward the most successful entrepreneurs in the world when we study examples. Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of school; learning about them, many people conclude that you don’t necessarily need a college education to succeed.

But for every Branson, Gates, and Zuckerberg, there are thousands, if not millions, of other entrepreneurs who dropped out of school and failed in business. We just don’t hear about them, and so we don’t take them into account. The misconception? You should focus on the successful if you wish to become successful.

How does this relate to our topic at hand? Until now, we have been focusing on key contributors – those whom you feel strongly will continue to play an integral role in the success of your organization. What about those who hover just below that line?

One option is certainly to “top grade” and perpetually focus on proactive hiring that improves the strength of your bench, not just hiring that fills empty seats. Spend less time addressing reoccurring performance issues and instead craft a hiring plan that proactively attracts the “A” or “B+” contributors to the team.

An additional option is to opportunistically outsource. Give others the chance to take on tasks and responsibilities they succeed with and are passionate about. Be sensitive to the skills and interests of individuals; match the dreamer with more creative tasks and the perfectionist with the detail-oriented projects. Just think how much more would get done if people only did jobs for which they had a talent and a passion. Don’t focus only on the already successful individuals within your team, but outsource thoughtfully to those to whom you are still trying to uncover their fullest potential.

Just Ask

Not sure what to outsource, and to whom? Challenge yourself to get to know those on your team. Ask questions to assess the present and design the future:

  • When you come to work each day, what things do you look forward to?

  • What are you learning here? What have you not yet been given the chance to take on, that you’d like to?

  • Is this what you want to do?

  • What can I do to make your experience here better?

  • What would you be excited to take on? (projects, responsibilities, clients)

  • When was the last time you feel like you massively over-delivered on something? What was it, and why did you work so hard?

  • What would make you listen to a call you’d get from a recruiter? Be honest; no judgment!

  • What’s on your personal and professional bucket list?

  • Fast-forward a year (two years, five years) from now; what would you be most proud of having accomplished?

Even when individuals are assigned difficult challenges, when they are involved in the decision, there is a huge increase in performance. Those who volunteer look at projects as developmental, while those who are assigned regard the task as hard labor. Take the initiative now to truly engage the hearts and minds of your team, so they one day will have the ability to opportunistic outsource to the next generation of future leaders within your firm.

The Dichotomy of Inertia

When it rains, it pours; most are familiar with this phrase.  It’s what we use to describe the inertia of negative circumstances building and snowballing. Can you think of the equivalent phrase used to describe the opposite? The experience of positive inertia? “Just look at the bright side”… “turn lemons into lemonade”… “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” might come to mind, but those all build on turning a negative into a positive. What about turning a positive into even more positives? Why is that not more commonplace?

If momentum can swing us one way or the other on the pendulum of professional success, how can we keep the dichotomy of inertia positioned in a positive direction?


Let’s start with a common misnomer – that it takes 21 days to create a habit. If we want to focus on replicating positive momentum, we must start with an understanding of what it takes to get into a consistent pattern. The origination of the 21 day theory stems from plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz. In the 1960’s, Maltz released the best-selling book Psycho-Cybernetics. In it, he shares that a unique pattern occurred in his surgery patients; when the surgery resulted in an altered appearance, it took the patient around 21 days to get used to seeing their altered complexion. He also observed this in patients who had lost a limb; it would take them around the same amount of time to not feel the phantom limb before adjusting to their new situation.

Maltz’s book focused on a mind and body connection and the power of self-affirmation and mental visualization techniques. Many of his findings and the book itself were absorbed into areas of personal development in which some of the very trainers and motivational speakers we know today: Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins. However, this theory morphed from it takes a minimum of 21 days to it takes 21 days to create a habit. It’s like that game of telephone; the end story has become somewhat distorted.

In 2009 Phillippa Lally, a psychology researcher at University College London, published a study on how habits are formed. She sought out to identify how long it takes to form a habit in the real world and by doing everyday tasks. The study looked at simple acts that people could incorporate into their daily life such as drinking a bottle of water at lunch or running for 15 minutes before dinner.

Her findings? On average it took more than 2 months before a new behavior became automatic; 66 days to be exact. Her study went on to say that it could be anywhere between 18 to 254 days – upwards of 8 months to start and stick with a new habit!

The punchline? It takes a much longer period of time for a new habit to become your new normal.

Why is that critical to this topic? We must not regard any of the following suggestions as quick-fixes, but rather as a journey to create a completely different mindset associated with maintaining a perpetually positive inertia. Although this analysis of the dichotomy of inertia can span all facets of life, this issue of our SRA Update will focus on the professional opportunities that exist for emphasis on the positive.


Within the workplace, it is common to diagnose negative circumstances. A key employee left the organization, a prospective client was lost, or the department failed to hit quarterly targets are all examples of situations in which individuals will convene to discuss what was missed, what could have been done differently, and how to avoid replicating in the future.

Have you ever done an autopsy on something that didn’t die?

How much time is dedicated to discussing what has kept individuals at your firm? Brainstorming on what unique differentiators you have that allowed you to land a key account? Not just celebrating the achievement of a quarterly target, but breaking down at a granular level what each team member did to contribute to the success of the department? Although mistakes are our teachers, a great deal can be done to learn from success. If you want to create a long-term shift in perspective being of a positive nature, it requires a shift in the focus of experience.

Commitments versus Goals

An object in motion stays in motion; how is that applied within a professional setting? Consider breaking achievements into two categories – commitments and goals. A commitment is a level that is attainable; one to be celebrated and which took some effort to get to. But how do we keep the motion of achievement in motion? The next level is the goal; the stretch milestone that might be seemingly impossible to attain but is in fact doable. Delineating between the two creates a space for further momentum beyond what is expected and perpetuates the positive force of an accomplished objective.

Words Matter

As a leader, it is our responsibility to help others understand that words have power; the way we say things matters. One could complain, “I am being bombarded with emails” or one could ask for suggestions for technology tools and effective time management.


I have to go to this team meeting = I get to go to this team meeting because I have a team dedicated to learning and living up to their fullest potential

I have to get this proposal to our client = I want to get this proposal to our client because they trust us to solve a problem they cannot solve on their own

I have to get caught up on emails = I want to get caught up on emails as I have knowledge and insight that others are relying on me to share with them

I have to take the kids to practice = I get to take the kids to practice as I am fortunate to have a family and resources to help them live a full, varied life


We have the freedom to choose our actions, our profession, our financial needs, and the path of our life. Each interaction is one step on the journey to create a transformed mindset associated with maintaining perpetually positive inertia.

Seattle Growth Trends

The recent energetic construction activity in Seattle is likely to continue, reports the Seattle Times Seattle Construction Boom relying on a report recently released by the Downtown Seattle Association. There are 66 projects underway from SLU to SODO, of various kinds, but mostly apartments. Despite what some have called a “glut” of rental properties coming online in recent years, the pipeline of projects for residential rental properties is strong. There is even (surprise!) a bit of activity in condominium construction.

Amazon Cancels NY HQ2  In related news, Amazon has announced it will not establish a so-called “HQ2” in Long Island City, just across the East River from Manhattan, after encountering objections from state and local lawmakers in the NYC area. Despite that change in plans, the company has no plans to expand further in Seattle beyond the 2MM sq ft that are currently under construction here.

Amazon Still Growing in Puget Sound  Puget Sound Business Journal reports that Amazon has 10MM sq ft of space already in Seattle, even without the Block 18 tower project that has gone through some starts and stops.

Is a Slow Hiring Process Impacting Your Hiring Outcome?

Avoid falling victim to slow hiring pitfalls.

Face-to-Face Interviews – An Easily Avoidable Pitfall

If you demand that every candidate come in for face-to-face interviews, you may have trouble recruiting the best people. The best candidates typically already have jobs and it’s difficult for them to schedule time to come in for an interview, especially during the workday. Try using Skype or another video calling program for at least the first interview.

Slow Scheduling – An Unnecessary Pitfall

Have you ever found yourself going back and forth with a candidate, trying to find the best time to schedule an interview? Top candidates don’t stay on the market for long, and he or she might find another job while you are still working on an interview schedule. Using online self-scheduling software, so your candidates can pick times that work for everyone can speed up the process and help you land the big fish.

Waiting Too Long to Hire a Candidate – The Most Dangerous Pitfall

It’s becoming commonplace for hiring managers to wait weeks or months to make a decision. If you wait that long, your desired candidate will likely already have a new job.

How do you fix this problem?

First, have the initial round of interviews take place on the same day, so the process isn’t stretched out for weeks. Limit follow-up interviews to one or two, and hold them on the same day.

If you find the right person, give them an offer on the spot!

Lowball Offers – An Insulting Pitfall

You might think it would be a huge win to land top talent with a lowball offer, but more times than not, you’ll lose the candidate. Top candidates will often walk away and likely won’t interview with your company again. Others will try to negotiate the offer, slowing down the hiring process. Be willing to pay people market rate if you want to hire the best employees.

Speed and Data – A Match Made in Hiring Heaven

When you speed up the hiring process and using data-driven selection methods, you can truly find the best people. You might have to pay these people more, but top talent is worth it and they will help your company grow!

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Construction Salary Data – Seattle Metro

As recruiters with a focus in the Seattle Metro Construction Industry, we have been busy!

We at NW Recruiting Partners recently put together some simple salary data for one of our clients. Many people in the industry took new roles in 2017-2018. If you were one of them, perhaps this information will help you understand if your current salary is keeping up with the market.

Our data shows that salaries rose 10% or more in 2016-17, depending on the role, but the numbers are flattening. Salaries are now starting to level off in the Puget Sound, compared to 2016 and 2017.

NW Recruiting Partners – Compensation Information

Current Hire Ranges (2017-2018)

Recent Client Hires

Average Offer







Safety Engineer


Industry Average

Project Engineer

Years in Position

Base Salary




$70k – 85k


$85k – $90k

Project Manager

Years in Position

Base Salary



2+ – 4


4+ – 9





Years in Position

Base Salary



2+ – 4


4+ – 9




Safety Engineer

Years in Position

Base Salary



2+ – 4


4+ – 9


Example #1 – GC Client



Range (low-high)

Project Engineer


Sr. Project Engineer


Project Manager


Sr. Project Manager


Project Executive


Example #2 – GC Client (Civil) Sr. PM Salary


Base Salary

Senior PM #1 (17 yrs. experience)


Senior PM #2 (16 yrs. experience)


Senior PM #3 (10 yrs. experience)


Senior PM #4  (8 yrs. experience)


Reference Checks

Most hiring processes require reference checks.  Not all of our employers require reference checks, but when they do, we offer the information below to help them.  We also provide complimentary reference checks for our clients!

  1. Request Professional References Only

Candidates will typically provide you with close friends, however, it is best to have candidates provide professional references only. This provides a more qualified reference since they can provide detail on what the candidate is like in a work-like setting, how they perform and interact with their peers and subordinates.  Some hiring experts recommend getting references from one direct supervisor, one co-worker and one subordinate. By using this method, you get a clearer picture of how the candidate works on every level.

  1. Schedule a Time to Connect with the Reference

Pick a time that works for the person providing a reference.  We know time is of the essence sometimes when you need to make a hire.  However, if possible, it is always good to make sure  the reference you are connecting with has time to talk with you.  We find we get better responses and more detail when time has been set aside for the reference.

  1. Consistency

It is best practice to ask each reference provided the same question.  Of course, depending on how the candidate interacted with the reference questions may change (managers vs. peers vs. subordinates).  Being consistent with questions allows the client to see how each reference responds.

  1. Ask Leading Questions

Instead of, “Did Lindsay exhibit good time management?”, you could present the question as, “Could you describe Lindsay’s time-management abilities?”  This will allow you to get more detail from the reference.  Presenting the question in an open-ended format will prompt the reference to offer specific examples of past events and give context to the qualities discussed.

  1. Ask More Questions

If a reference is giving short answers or not providing enough detail, don’t be afraid to inquire for more. For example, if a reference says, “He was our top performer,” ask more specific questions about what he did well and how he accomplished those goals. By asking more questions you are qualifying your candidate.

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