Asking for a raise is one of the most difficult things you do in your career – at least until you’ve done it successfully. Combine the fear of rejection with the discomfort of discussing money and you have the perfect recipe for procrastination.
If you truly believe you deserve a raise and you’ve done the research to back up your belief, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t ask for a raise. Don’t assume your employer will automatically notice your accomplishments and push for a raise on your behalf. Sometimes you have to be willing to make the first move. Here’s how you can do it.
Make sure your performance warrants a raise – and have proof to back up your claim. Before approaching your manager with a request for a raise, make a list in writing of your most impactful accomplishments. Know what you’ve achieved for the company – the value you’ve added, costs you’ve reduced, revenue you’ve added. If you want to ask for a raise and get it, make sure you’re consistently exceeding expectations, always going above and beyond your job description.
You don’t have to wait until you’re ready to have the raise discussion to bring up your accomplishments. Keep your manager informed often about what you’re bringing to the table either by forwarding your accolades via email or discussing them in one-to-one meetings. That way, your manager will already have a favorable opinion of you going into the raise discussions.
Don’t assume your manager knows all the work you do throughout the company, especially if you share a manager with several other employees. You’ll have to promote yourself to your manager, describing how you’ve consistently performed above expectations.
Ask at the right time. Your company many have written or even unspoken guidelines about when and how raises are given. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring up a conversation about a salary increase outside of the normal salary review time. You might schedule a meeting to talk about your raise right after you’ve signed a major client, completed a major project, received major accolades, or another company has given you a better offer.
As for specifics, you should probably avoid having this important conversation on a Monday or the end of the workday on Friday. Schedule the meeting for a time when your boss is typically in a better mood.
Pay attention also to what’s going on within your company. Can the company afford to give you a raise? Is it profitable? Has the company been implementing major cost cutting measures like travel budget cuts or hiring freezes? Proceed carefully if your employer shows signs of being unable to afford raising your salary.
Make sure your request is backed up by the value you bring to the company. Avoid making the raise about your colleagues’ salaries. It’s also not helpful to request a raise for personal reasons like changes to your financial needs. Time in your position may not be a good bargaining chip for receiving a raise, unless you’re noting how long it’s been since your last raise.
Decide how much to ask for. You can ask directly for a certain amount or you can wait for your manager to suggest an amount. Some people take the approach of asking for an inflated amount, waiting for their boss to counter with a lower amount, and then meeting somewhere in the middle. When you’re considering how much to ask for or what you’re willing to accept, make sure you consider your contributions, current market rates for your job, and your company’s typical raise amount.
If you feel you are underpaid you can use the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find the salary for a job that fits your description. Sites like Salary.com, Glassdoor.com and Payscale.com are also helpful in finding comparable salaries.
Rehearse the conversation. The topic of salary increase is much too important to try to wing it. Spend some time thinking about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Craft your script approach based on your supervisor’s personality. It might even help to have a friend or relative role play with you so that you’re naturally confident in the real conversation.
It’s helpful to start the conversation by talking about your achievements. Memorize them and practice naming them. Make sure you believe in the value of your achievements – you’ll have a hard time convincing your supervisor you deserve a raise if you don’t believe it yourself. Once you’ve talked about the value you’ve delivered, as an example you can lead into your request by saying something like, “Based on these accomplishments and the value I’ll continue to deliver, I’d like an increase in my compensation. I’ve researched salaries in similar positions at comparable companies.”
If your supervisor likes you to get straight to the point, don’t beat around the bush with the conversation. Start the discussion by letting your him or her know you were hoping to talk about raising your salary, then delve into the contributions you believe qualify you for a raise.
Tread carefully with ultimatums. Going into the negotiations with a “give me a raise or else” attitude could work against you. While you may feel you need to play hardball to get your way, you shouldn’t threaten to leave unless you’re certain you want to leave. Even if your manager agrees to the raise, you may have just painted yourself as an unreliable employee.
Deal with rejection gracefully. Of course, there’s a possibility that you may not get the raise you ask for, even if you feel your contributions warrant a pay increase. Try to keep your emotions out of the conversation to avoid feeling rejected or embarrassed if your request is denied.
Instead, ask your boss what you could do to get a raise in the future. This will give you an idea of what more you should bring to your job role and give you a leg up the next time you ask your boss for a raise. Sometimes your request is denied because of factors outside of your boss’s control. For example, the company may currently have a freeze on raises. Be careful that you don’t allow the rejection to affect your job performance. If your performance slips, it will be much more difficult to get a raise in the future. Continue to deliver value and exceed expectations so you have leverage the next time you’re ready to ask for a raise at work.