Let's start by saying that asking for a raise is a perfectly normal part of business life. It's business 101 for managers. Yet, for employees, the idea of asking and affecting the status quo of your employee/manager relationship fills many people with anxiety-inducing paralysis.
Let's destroy the “You vs. Them” dynamic and learn how to get your manager on your side when learning how to ask for a raise.
How to Ask for a Raise
First Things First – Prepare
If you are asking for a raise, you control when you ask. You have time on your side, so start doing your research and build your confidence.
- Know Your Worth – Go through your responsibilities at work and ask can anyone else do this? Are you more uniquely qualified for essential tasks that set you apart? If they fired you tomorrow, what would it take for your employer to replace you? Take an objective look at yourself as how your employer sees you.
- Create A List Of Accomplishments – Since your last raise, what have you accomplished? Did these accomplishments set you apart or go above and beyond your everyday responsibilities? Having this list of achievements could be key talking points. If your actions are helping improve the company's productivity or increasing revenue, like starting a company blog, there should be more than a “good job.”
- Use The Internet To Find Similar Salaries – Sites like Glassdoor and popular job boards regularly post salaries of similar positions in other companies. This easily accessible information can be a huge talking point in meeting with your manager. If your salary is lower than the listings your finding, your manager's discussion should be on how to increase your salary to industry standard. Suppose your salary is higher than the industry average. In that case, you should be arguing how your responsibilities justify a higher pay or discuss title changes to put you in the next higher bracket.
When preparing for asking for a raise, try explaining what you do, your worth, and your accomplishments with a friend. If you can adequately explain what you do to a friend, you'll be more prepared to explain it to your boss during your salary meeting sufficiently.
The Best Time To Ask For A Raise
Often people talk themselves out of something by saying it's not the right time. However, when asking for a raise, anytime is the right time, after 12 months from your last raise.
Annual performance reviews and raises are ordinary meetings. If that's not normal for your company, you should set up a yearly review with your manager to get feedback and create a forum for these discussions.
Particular Circumstances When To Ask For A Raise
- After Completing A Big Project – If you just completed a big project, and it went well. It would help if you leveraged that win. It's often a time to discuss bonuses or raises while spirits are high. It's ingrained in humans to reward good behavior. Use that!
- When Your Manager Is Happy – You will always get farther with happy people. However, when approaching your manager about a raise, make sure they're happy with you and not simply happy about winning a golf tournament.
Set Up The Meeting
When you decide to ask for a raise, remember this is something you've been thinking about, but for your manager, it's out-of-the-blue. If you ambush your manager, they may have a gut reaction to “NO” because it's their job to maintain the status quo.
One of the more successful ways we've seen people approach their managers about asking for a raise is to start with an email to schedule a time to discuss, along with a few key arguments. An email is a controlled way to establish a future time to discuss salary, state a couple of big wins since your last raise, and most importantly, provides your manager time to mull over the idea.
Another benefit to sending an email to set up a time for a salary discussion is that you have the time to perfect the email. Take your time and make it concise. No need to send your manager a short novel on every reason you deserve a raise.
The primary goal of your email is to arrange a time to discuss your salary in person. A secondary goal is to mention your accomplishments, which you should only list 1-3 of these to keep the email concise.
Tips For Your Salary Meeting
Salary meetings don't need to be adversarial. But rather a collaboration with you and your manager to get you to a salary you want. Here are a few tips on successful raise requests:
- Don't make it into a presentation – Your manager should already be aware of your accomplishments by working with you or highlighted them in your earlier email. It could be a simple paragraph “Hi! I wanted some time to discuss my salary as we haven't met in over 12 months. According to Glassdoor and our competitor websites, here is the average industry salary for people in my position and responsibilities. I want to discuss how to get my salary closer to the industry average.”
- Be Confident and Specific About Your Raise – Based on your research; you should have a specific number in mind to match similar positions at different companies. This number shows your manager you've done your research and gives them a firm number to work. Perhaps your number could be a little higher so you can negotiate down if needed.
- Practice What You're Going To Say – They say TED speakers practice 200 times before they present. For a compensation meeting, it's more complicated because you don't know how your manager will respond. However, you can still rehearse the main points with polish, such as “Why A Raise Now?”, “Why You Feel You Deserve A Raise?”, “How Can I Justify A Raise To My Boss?”.
If They Say No, Here's What To Do
In the worst-case scenario, they say “no,” and that's ok. The simple request of asking for a raise is a huge step in the right direction to increasing your salary. Here are a few tips if they say “no.”
- Don't Create An Ultimatum – Don't force yourself into a corner by saying, “I'll quit if you don't give me this raise.” A manager may not have the resources in their budget to give you a raise. Then either quit to keep your word or lose credibility by staying. It's best to ask for their reasoning and if you don't like it, secretly start applying for other jobs.
- Create A Plan For Another Raise Discussion in 6 Months – If your manager feels they can't give you a raise right now, you should together set a hard time in the future to continue the conversation. This meeting gives you something to look forward to, knowing the conversation isn't dead. Maintaining hard dates to continue a salary discussion keeps it top of mind for your manager. Remember, it's always the squeaky wheel that gets cleaned.
- Discuss Other Benefits That Can Make You Feel Rewarded – Perhaps there isn't money in the budget to accommodate a raise right now. Other benefits may help you feel rewarded for your work.
- Additional Vacation Time – Time off is a freedom that can be as beneficial as money. This benefit is sometimes far easier to grant employees when a raise isn't in the budget.
- Title Change – If your company can't afford a raise, a title change may be a compromise. It'll give you more prestige in your field and open up further salary increases down the road with a more prestigious title.
- Work From Home Options – If more money isn't an option, maybe you can work some of your hours at home. Working from home gives you additional freedom of spending time with your family and that time is priceless.
Make Asking For A Raise A Normal Thing
A raise shouldn't be a “You Vs. Manager” ordeal. It's a collaboration between you and your boss to give you're the resources to feel appreciated for the job you're doing. No manager wants to be the bad guy saying “No” to your raise, so find opportunities to work together to increase your salary to the industry standards you find on Glassdoor and adequately reflect your responsibilities.
For many people, asking for a raise is a terrifying experience, but it's essential to know that raises are a normal part of business life. The mystery lies behind the closed doors where these discussions occur. Both you and your manager play their cards close to their chest while everyone wants to maintain the status quo. If you follow these steps, and with a bit of practice, you will master asking for raise.
There are always ways to make money outside of work, but asking for a raise is one of the easiest ways to make more money.
Andrew Kraemer is a rising influence in the world of personal finance as the founder of Wallet Squirrel and featured on MSN Money, AOL Finance, and more. He regularly speaks to creative ways people make money, and clever ways to invest it.