September 29, 2015
Deposit photos

Wondering how to negotiate for more cash? (Deposit Photos)

“You have more power than you think,” Will Neville-Rehbehn told a packed room at the Online News Association’s annual conference last week.

Neville-Rehbehn, creative director at VShift, spoke with Poynter’s Katie Hawkins-Gaar about work and money. A version of the conversation first took place earlier this year at the ONA-Poynter Women’s Leadership Academy.

They included a list of questions to ask before your next raise or job offer. Here are five tips from that session:

1. How good are you (really)?

If you’re asking for a raise, start with honestly assessing your work. Are you doing the job you were hired for? Are you just coasting?

“Are you doing the same things you’ve always done?” Neville-Rehbehn asked. “Are you surfing because you’re burned out?”

Are you doing more?

2. Can you justify it?

When asking for a raise or more money in a negotiation, you have to do better than “give me money for [my] feelings,” Neville-Rehbehn said. And as journalists, that shouldn’t be hard. We research and report for a living. Do that to help make a case for why you deserve more money.

“All of you are better prepared to have this conversation than anybody else on earth,” he said.

3. Should you make the first move?

In a job offer negotiation, this one is tough, Neville-Rehbehn said. If asked for what you’d like to be making, offer a range. And if asked directly what you’re making, be honest.

“I think you can tell them the truth and pivot,” he said. “It’s ‘This is what I’m making, but what I should be making for the job that you’re talking to me about is x.'”

And if you ask for a number and get that yes, don’t immediately despair and wish you’d asked for more.

“If you put thought into the range that you thought you could live with and be happy and someone said yes, be happy,” Neville-Rehbehn said.

4. Who’s sitting across the table from you?

When asking for a raise, know thy boss. Is she a morning person? Is she horrible to deal with after meetings with her boss? Is she better out of the office over coffee?

“What is the scenario that will set you up for success?” he asked.

5. And finally, are you asking the wrong questions?

This isn’t just about money, Neville-Rehbehn said.

There’s another important question to consider: “What do you want your life to look like?”

Money is one factor, but so is the ability to have new opportunities, a seat at the table, the chance to travel and your work/life balance. There’s more to the compensation conversation, which Neville-Rehbehn spoke about with Poynter’s Lauren Klinger earlier this year.

“Sometimes it is and, in addition to salary,” Neville-Rehbehn said. “Sometimes it is or.”

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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