UPDATED: April 22, 2022
Asking for more money can be stressful and awkward. Many people are uncomfortable talking about themselves, and self-promoting falls under that category. Failure to ask for a raise, or doing so appropriately, means leaving hard-earned money on the table. Here's how to ask for a raise the right way to get the money you deserve.
If you are looking at a new job, learn how to negotiate your salary like a pro.
Preparing to Ask for a Raise
You can never be too prepared when it comes to a conversation about an increase in your compensation. Walking into a negotiation blind is a substantial disadvantage.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.- Benjamin Franklin
Know Your Worth
Before stepping into any meeting about a pay raise, you need to do your research and know your worth. That means looking at comparable positions at companies like yours and understanding the salary range for the role.
There are plenty of free resources online to assist in your research. Glassdoor and LinkedIn are just a few of the many companies that allow you to search salaries based on your industry, company size, and years of experience.
Pull Together Your Accomplishments
Come up with a list of professional accomplishments to back your price. Putting out concrete examples of how you've exceeded expectations make it harder for your boss to say no.
If possible, tie your successes to the underlying revenue of the company. Once you show how you saved your organization $20,000 in spending while simultaneously increasing revenue by $150,000 year over year, why wouldn't they want to put some of that back in your pocket?
Plan What You'll Say
Think through possible questions that your boss might ask and come up with answers ahead of time.
It may also help to have a mock conversation with your spouse or a close friend to get a feel for how your words will sound out loud instead of just running around in your head.
Tips for the Negotiation
Once you've fully prepared and the time has come for the big discussion, use the below tips to project your best self while you're in the room.
One essential piece of asking for a raise is confidence. Projecting confidence lets your boss know you mean business, and you feel strongly that your ask is justified. Maintaining a strong posture and eye contact are two of the best ways to show confidence as you make your case.
Prove That You Deserve It, Not That You Need It
Start the conversation by outlining your accomplishments, which you've already compiled above. Be sure to emphasize your high-quality work and performance, and not the fact that you need more money to cover expenses (even if that's an underlying reason for the request).
While you may know that the increase will be used to cover some unforeseen medical bills, sharing that information with your boss does not increase the likelihood of your raise getting approved, even if you have a great relationship.
If you are struggling financially, your next order of business should be creating a budget so you know where you actually are.
While the request for a pay raise is about your performance, you also want to use the opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to the company. After all, this company provides you with a steady income, and your boss has agreed to hear your case for higher compensation. Showing gratitude communicates a mutual respect and appreciation for the time and opportunity.
Be sure to include some forward-thinking statements about projects you look forward to doing in the coming months and years. If you put forth your willingness to stick around for the long haul, your chances of increased compensation go up. Articulating your value, now and in the future, bodes well for your total compensation package.
Know Your Bottom Number and Start High
Have a bottom number in mind based on your research and start a bit higher when negotiating, knowing that your boss may talk you down a bit. For annual or merit increases, a 3-6% raise is standard. But if you're vastly underpaid or have the qualifications and research to prove you deserve it, an increase of 10-20% isn't out of the question.
If you currently make $45,000 per year, excel at your job, and the market average for your position is $52,000, asking for $54,000 would be a 20% increase. When you break down the math, a 20% increase doesn't seem unreasonable.
Consider Non-Monetary Benefits
If you put out a number to your employer that they can't do for financial reasons, try to compensate using things that aren't monetary. Choose something that will be easy for your employer to approve and provide the most value. You could request another few days of vacation time, flexibility to work from home a few days of the week, or a title change.
While these compensations may not help your bottom line, they will contribute to your overall job satisfaction and can sometimes be more valuable than a monetary raise.
Keep Your Cool
If your boss can't (or wont) give you a raise or any other compensation, it's critical that you listen and try to understand the reasoning while not getting upset. Losing your cool can only serve to put doubt in your boss's mind when you request a raise in the future.
Instead, try to turn the conversation around to understand what you can do over the next few months to increase the likelihood of a future increase. If you really feel underappreciated, start updating your resume. You deserve to find an employer that values your contributions and is willing to pay market rate.
Whether or not your request for a raise is granted, you want your boss to know that you're willing to do whatever it takes to excel and move to the next step.
Ask for feedback on performance, things you can do better, or even work with your manager to set performance goals. Make sure to note anything discussed and be sure to implement the feedback in the weeks following.
As long as you're prepared and feel confident that you deserve what you're asking for, you have the best chance of getting the amount you want—cheers to using your new pay bump to set yourself on a better financial path in the future!
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