Many people are afraid to ask for raises even though they know they deserve them, making excuses like, “The economy is so down right now” or “I’ll never find a good time.” If this sounds like you, then it’s time to stop getting in your own way and to start making a game plan for getting the higher salary you deserve. If you want to know how to ask for a pay raise, just follow these steps.
1. Make sure you have leverage.
Getting a pay raise in most industries is hard to achieve unless you have leverage. Leverage can consist of such things as getting another job offer or doing above and beyond your job description consistently, effectively, and regularly.
If you are a “star employee,” a good company will often be able to find a bit extra to keep you satisfied. Be aware that it is a fairly standard tactic to tell you that the business is already over its annual budget, to try and deter you from asking.This means that you need to know your worth as assessed against objective criteria (see below) and be persistent.
If you’ve already negotiated a pay deal with your boss, it may be harder to ask for more. Your boss assumes you’re happy with the amount you’re getting and isn’t going to be favorably disposed to adding more financial burden to the company without good reason.
Be careful about using another job offer as leverage. Your boss may call you on it; it’s important to really have such a job offer and be willing to take it if you’re rebuffed by your boss. Be ready to walk that plank!
2. Have realistic expectations.
If your company is already “over budget” and suffering as a result of the recession, cut-backs, or any other reasons, you might be better off waiting until later. During a recession period, some companies will not be able to provide pay raises without also endangering your job. However, this doesn’t mean that you should use this as an excuse to delay asking for a raise indefinitely.
3. Know your company’s policies.
Does your company require annual performance reviews to determine your salary?
Do salaries advance according to a fixed schedule or rank?
Who can make the decision (or ask for it to be made)?
Know what you’re worth – objectively.
It’s easy to believe you’re worth more, especially if you feel as if you’re giving 110 percent every day, but you need to demonstrate this objectively by assessing your worth against that of others in the same industry.
Many employers say they don’t give a raise until the employer does 20% more work than he did when he was initially hired. Here are some things you can take into account when you consider your worth:
Your job description
Your responsibilities, including any management or leadership tasks
Years of experience and seniority in the company’s line of work
Your level of education
4. Gather some market data for similar positions.
While this may be something you took into account when you first negotiated your salary, your role and responsibilities may have changed. Look to similar levels in the industry to see what others are being paid for similar work. Find out the usual salary range for those who do what you do in your region or area. Getting market data for comparable positions can help you feel more knowledgeable when you talk to your boss. You can check out comparable positions at Salary.com, GenderGapApp, or Getraised.com.
While these things will be helpful when you build your case, they should not be used as the principal argument for getting a pay raise; they inform you about your worth, not your boss.
Prepare a list of your accomplishments.
This list reminds you of your own worth and provides an objective basis for your demands. While some people believe it’s helpful to write down accomplishments to present to your boss, others believe your accomplishments should already be evident and you should only need to remind your boss verbally. It depends on what you know about your boss’s preferences, your relationship dynamics with your boss, and your own level of comfort with reciting your accomplishments verbatim.
If you choose to convince your boss verbally, memorize the list.
If you choose to present a written copy to your boss for his or her reference, have somebody proofread it for you first.
5. Review your work history.
Pay particular attention to projects you’ve worked on, problems you’ve helped solve, and how business operations and profits have improved since you started. This is about more than just doing your job well, which you’re already expected to do, but about going above and beyond the duties of your job. Some questions to consider when developing your case include:
Did you complete or help to complete a tough project? And get positive results from it?
Did you work extra hours or meet an urgent deadline? Are you continuing to demonstrate this type of commitment?
Did you take initiative? In what ways?
Did you go beyond the call of duty? In what ways?
Did you save the company time or money?
Did you improve any systems or processes?
Did you support or train others? As Carolyn Kepcher says, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” and a boss wants to hear that you’ve helped others.
Consider your future value to the company.
This tells your boss that you’re always one step ahead in thinking about where the company is headed.
6. Be sure you have long-term goals and objectives that will benefit the company in the future.
Keeping an existing employee happy is also less of a hassle than conducting interviews and hiring a new one. While you don’t want to say this outright, emphasizing your future with the company will definitely resonate with your boss.
Decide what level of pay raise you’re looking for.
It’s important not to be greedy and to remain realistic.
The usual tactic of negotiating from a much higher point isn’t as good an idea with salary increase requests because your boss might think you’re being ridiculous.
Break it down so that it doesn’t seem too huge; for example, explain it as been an extra $40 a week rather than $2,080 per year.
You can also negotiate for more than just a pay raise. Maybe you’re happy to take other things in lieu of money, such as stocks or shares in the company, a wardrobe allowance, rental assistance, or even a promotion in your title. Ask for a company car, or a better one. If appropriate, talk about benefits, titles, and modifications to your responsibilities, management, or assignments.
7. Be prepared to compromise and haggle.
Even though you haven’t given your boss an unrealistic figure, still expect some bargaining to go on if your boss is receptive to the request.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
Though it can be hard to get a pay rise, it’s worse to fall into the mindset of not asking for a pay rise, ever.
In particular, women are often afraid to ask for a pay raise due to pressure not to appear demanding or pushy. See this as an opportunity to show that you care enough to develop a career trajectory that favors your workplace as well as yourself.
Negotiation is a learned skill. If you are afraid of this aspect, take some time out to learn it and practice implementing it in a variety of contexts before approaching your boss.
8. Choose the right time.
Successful requests are all about good timing. What have you done within a demonstrable time period that has made you more valuable to the firm or organization? It doesn’t make sense to ask for a pay raise when you’ve not yet demonstrated anything amazing for the firm — regardless of long you’ve been there.
The time is right when your value to the organization is clearly high. This means seizing the iron while it’s hot and asking for a pay raise off the back of excellent successes such as holding a highly successful conference, getting fantastic feedback, getting a big client signed on, producing outstanding work that outsiders have praised, etc.
Don’t choose a time when the company has just posted major losses.
Asking for a pay rise based purely on “time done” is dangerous because it makes you appear like a timekeeper rather than someone interested in the company’s progression. Never say to your boss: “I’ve been here for a year and I deserve a pay rise.” Your boss will be likely to respond, “And so what?”
9. Make an appointment to talk to your boss.
Set time aside. If you just walk up and ask for a raise, you’ll seem unprepared — and come across like you don’t deserve one. You don’t have to give too much advance notice, but do seek privacy and a time you know you won’t be interrupted. For example, when you walk in to work in the morning, say: “Before you leave, I’d like to speak with you.”
Remember, a face-to-face request is far harder to turn down than a letter or email.
Try to avoid Monday, when there will be a million things to do, or Friday, when your boss may already have other things on his mind.
10. Present yourself well
Be confident, not arrogant, and stay positive. Speak politely and clearly to better maintain your composure. And finally, keep in mind that it probably won’t be half as bad to ask as it did to work up the nerve! When you talk to your boss, lean in a bit if you’re sitting down. This will help project confidence.
Start by saying how much you enjoy your job. Being personable will help make that human connection with your boss.
Follow up by discussing your achievements. This will show your boss why a pay raise matters to you.
Ask for the raise in specific terms and then wait for your boss’s response.
Don’t just say, “I want a raise.” Tell your boss how much more money you want to make in percentage terms, such as wanting to make 10% more money. You can also talk in terms of how much you would like your yearly salary to increase. Whatever you say, be as specific as possible, so your boss sees that you’ve really thought it through. Here are the things that can happen:
If it’s an outright “no,” see the next section.
If it’s “I need time to think about this,” try to pinpoint a future time for reopening the discussion.
If your boss agrees immediately, say something like, “Don’t say yes unless you mean it” as a means of reinforcing it in his or her mind and then proceed to “hold your boss” to it.
Thank your boss for his or her time.
This is important regardless of the answer you’ve been given.You can even go “over and above” by giving your boss more than they’re expecting from you, such as a thank-you card or lunch invitation to say thanks. Consider sending a follow up email as well even if you’ve said thank you person multiple times.
11. Hold your boss to the promise
If the answer was yes, the final hurdle may be actually receiving the raise. Back-pedaling – or even simple forgetfulness — are always possibilities. Don’t jump to conclusions if the raise doesn’t go into effect right away. Things do go wrong: your boss might encounter resistance from the higher-ups or face budgetary problems, etc.
Making your boss feel bad about reneging (for example, mentioning someone you know who asked for a pay raise only to have a boss take it back and how staff morale plummeted). This will have to be done subtly and with tact.
Ask when your boss will implement the pay raise. A subtle way of doing this might be to ask if there is anything you need to sign to put it into effect.
Go one step further and tell your boss: “I guess that you’ll have this arranged by the end of the month after you’ve approved the paperwork,” etc.; this puts a plan into action so that he or she doesn’t have to.
Dealing with refusal:
12. Don’t take it personally
If you allow the rejection to sour your attitude or affect your work, your boss will probably feel like (s)he made the right decision. If you develop a reputation for having a bad attitude or for not accepting feedback, then your boss will be even less likely to give you a raise. Once your boss gives his final verdict, be as gracious as possible. Don’t walk out of the room and slam the door.
Ask your boss what you can do differently.
This demonstrates your willingness to take your boss’s opinions into account. It may be that both of you can agree on increased responsibilities and activities over a certain time period that gradually leads to a new role and a pay increase. This will also demonstrate your commitment to your job and your ability to work hard. Your boss will see you as a go-getter and you’ll be on his radar the next time raise season rolls around.
If you are a star employee, keep performing excellently and ask again in a few months time.
Send a follow-up email saying thank you.
This provides a dated, written record that you can remind your boss of in future negotiations. It will also remind your boss that you’re grateful for the conversation that you had and shows him that you have follow-through.
13. Be persistent
Your desire for a pay raise is now out in the open and your boss should be concerned about the possibility that you are looking for work elsewhere. Set a date for when you will ask again. Until that time, be sure to kick your work into high gear. Don’t slack off just because you’re disappointed that you won’t be getting a raise yet.
Consider looking elsewhere if the situation doesn’t change.
You should never have to settle for less than you deserve. If you’re shooting higher than your company is willing to pay, maybe it’s better to apply for a different position that has a higher salary — either with your company or another one. Think this possibility through carefully; there’s no need to burn bridges just because your conversation with your boss didn’t go well.
It’s better to stick with it for a little while longer to try to work for that raise. But if months have passed and you haven’t gotten the recognition you deserve in spite of your hard work, then don’t feel bad about seeing what other companies have to offer.