3 Steps to Take When You Ask for a Raise

August 21, 2015


Asking for a raise is one of the most simple and effective ways to increase our earning potential. Yet, how often do we make that ask?

Are you guilty of letting the fear of rejection get to you? Does talking money and compensation with your employer make you nervous?

It’s time to put those fears aside. If you don’t ask for a raise and negotiate for what you’re worth, you risk missing out on increasing your income. Taking the following steps will help ease your concerns about how to ask for a raise.

First, Understand the Process

At its very core, asking for a raise is just a matter of business. All employers should expect their employees to inquire about more money at some point during their career. Just as it’s foolish to accept a job offer without negotiating, it’s foolish to think raises will fall into your lap.

Instead of building up bad scenarios in your head, and thinking about how much of a disaster asking for a raise could be, rationalize it. If you’ve been making progress at your job, taken on more responsibility, and contributed value to the company, you’re not out of line for asking.

How much you ask for, of course, is another issue (but we’ll get to that). For now, you need to mentally prepare yourself for the meeting — which you need to ask to have, unless a review is coming up. Schedule a time to talk with your supervisor, and then prepare.

1. Prepare the Proof

Once you’ve got a date set with your boss, you need to prepare the proof you actually deserve a raise. This is necessary even if your manager knows you’re a great employee, or even if you’ve received recognition for your work.

Why? Depending on the hierarchy at your job, your manager might need to ask their boss or HR for your raise. You want to make this as easy as possible, and they’ll be able to use your proof to make a case.

First, you should be keeping track of any praise you receive. For most people, this comes in the form of an email. Make a folder in your email specifically for this purpose. Save any emails from customers or colleagues complimenting your work. You’ll want to document hard numbers and any kind of metrics you can use to show growth and progress thanks to your work, too!

Second, prepare a list of ways you’ve improved since your last review. Be as specific as possible, and note any important achievements or increased responsibilities. This is going to look different for everyone depending on the type of role you fulfill at your job. Don’t brush off accomplishments that seem trivial to you. Include anything that shows you’ve made a valuable contribution to the company.

Third, you’ll want to get some hard numbers to know how much of a raise to ask for, and what’s appropriate to ask for. When you come to a meeting to ask for a raise, you want a hard number in mind that you can propose.

You can do some research ahead of time by compiling salary data from sites like glassdoor.com, indeed.com/salary, and salary.com. These sites will tell you the average amount people in your position and in your area are making.

2. Have the Meeting

Time to make the ask? Stay calm and be confident. In a way, you can treat this like another interview.

You’re trying to showcase the value you’ve brought to the company since you’ve been there. You’re proving to your boss that you’ve grown in your position, and are subsequently worth more to the company. It’s time to be compensated for that appropriately.

Be diplomatic, but go with the culture of your workplace (i.e. don’t be too formal if that would be out of the norm). Present the hard data you compiled that shows how your work has benefited the business. Discuss how far you’ve come, highlight your strengths, identify what your weak points are and what steps you’re taking to improve on those weak points, and cite how much your coworkers and customers value you.

When it’s time to talk numbers, state what you’re looking for — and don’t be nervous! This is why you did your research: so you could state your case with confidence and know you’re making a reasonable offer.

3. Evaluate the Aftermath

Your meeting can go one of three ways:

  1. You get your raise, exactly what you asked for. Great!
  2. You get a raise and it’s not as much as you hoped for, but you did increase your earnings.
  3. You don’t get any raise at all.

If you’re dissatisfied with the second or third outcome, and know you deserved more, you have some choices to make.

How important is earning more to you? Will it make a huge difference in your ability to accomplish your goals? Are you grossly underpaid?

Do some soul searching and figure out if you can stay at a place that’s not willing to pay you what you’re worth. Sometimes you have to move on to another company that’s willing to do that.

Business is business. Companies are going to look out for their bottom line, and you need to as well. If you’re not happy, start looking to your network for new opportunities. Send your resume out and go on a few interviews to see what you could potentially earn elsewhere.

Of course, you don’t need to take drastic action. You can politely ask for feedback — what does your boss feel is necessary to see before you can earn a raise? You can also ask if you can schedule a review in another six months, and open negotiations for higher pay at that time.

Ask for That Raise!

So what are you waiting for? Prepare the proof that you’re worth more, schedule the meeting, and ask for a raise with confidence.

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