You want more money, and you’re confident you deserve it. Maybe you’ve taken on more responsibilities, closed some big deals, or have generally been exceeding expectations—whatever it is, you know your paycheck doesn’t match your efforts. But asking for a raise? That isn’t always so easy.
Oftentimes, fortune favors those who are bold and willing bring up the uncomfortable questions. But if the thought of asking for a paycheck boost makes you a bit uncomfortable, these tips can help you prepare for what can be a very important conversation.
Do Your Research Beforehand
Before you even think about scheduling a meeting with your boss, it’s important to establish what your work is worth. That doesn’t mean polling your fellow employees—that rarely leads to anything good. However, it does mean looking outside of your organization to determine how much individuals with similar jobs working for similar size companies make (e.g., a mom and pop shop may have a hard time meeting the pay rates of a multi-billion-dollar company).
LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor, among others, all offer tools and databases that can help you determine how much others in your position and location are paid. You can use this data to get an indicator of where your current salary ranks and to determine a target salary to enter negotiations with.
Consider Your Employer’s Raise Cycle & Salary Structure
Even if your boss agrees that you deserve a raise, they may not be able to give it to you right away. Many companies have operational budgets that control employee compensation. If your request falls in the beginning or middle of the budget cycle, your employer may not be able to honor your request. Asking at the wrong time can yield a hard no or require a follow-up conversation a few short months down the road.
Take note of your employer’s raise cycle and salary structure. If possible, schedule your meeting close to that time. What if you’re out of cycle? That doesn’t mean the answer will be no, but it may be something you want to keep in mind as you make your request and provide support for your argument.
Focus on Your Performance Since Your Last Raise
There’s a reason most employers include a “commensurate with experience” clause in their position postings—experienced employees often perform better. If you can chart concrete examples of how your performance improved since your last raise or since you were hired, then you can begin to make a solid case as to why you deserve a higher rate.
Turn to key performance metrics as they relate to your specific position (e.g., sales, client acquisition, production, operational improvements and efficiencies, etc.) and leverage them to make your argument.
Deliver Your Argument Concisely and Suggest a New Salary
Even if you have an excellent case for why you need a raise, if you don’t present it well, you can end up with a resounding “no.” This isn’t the time to deliver an off-the-cuff speech or provide a well prepared but massive report outlining why you need more money.
As is the case with many types of workplace communication, your efforts should be concise, brief, and sprinkled with the most important data points. Briefly bring up the salary discussion, recap why you think you should be earning more, and then suggest a suitable rate.
Be Patient If You Hear “No”
Not every raise conversation will end with a resounding yes, but that doesn’t mean your voice hasn’t been heard. There are a variety of reasons an employer may deny your request. For instance, budgeting constraints can overpower even the most logical argument.
Obviously, it’s not wise to argue with your boss or quit in a rage, but it is within reason to ask for feedback. If it’s budgetary, you may simply want to revisit when the time is right. If the answer is based on performance, you may want to consider asking your boss or manager how you can improve and create goals that will set you up for success in the future.
It’s easy to dwell on the negative, but in this case, the best thing you can do is recognize that you’ve been heard and look toward the future—whatever that is and wherever it may take you.
Understand That It’s Ordinary to Ask for More Money
Asking for a raise, even with an award-winning argument—can still be difficult for many people. But keep in mind that people do this every day, and if you fail to speak up, you run the risk of not only short-changing yourself but cultivating workplace resentment.
Employers expect their employees to ask for raises, and though it’s a huge discussion for you, it’s often a much less uncomfortable event for them. Don’t feel bad or weird about asking for what you feel you deserve. The worst you can hear is “no,” and if that’s the case, you’ll be better positioned to make moves in the future, whether it be with your current organization or a new one.
What other strategies have you heard about, read about, or employed with regard to asking for a raise?
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