Asking for a raise can be nerve-wracking. You could have every reason in the world to deserve a raise but that doesn’t make it feel any less scary. But the truth is that asking for a raise is a part of almost every career. It’s a skill you need to develop unless you’re prepared to just let your salary stagnate where it is. And the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that scary.
The worst that could happen is that you get a no. You won’t get fired for asking for a raise. And if you’re not willing to keep working there at your current pay rate, hearing that no is the trigger you need to start seeking career opportunities elsewhere. So read through these tips for asking for a raise and improve your chances of actually getting that raise you deserve.
#1 Prepare your presentation
No, you probably aren’t going to have to make an actual presentation so skip the PowerPoint slides. But you need a clear idea of how you’ll present yourself and the reasons you deserve a raise. Read through these key points you’ll need to address when asking for a raise:
- Know your worth. Raises are a natural part of business. There’s an average starting salary for your job and an average rate of increase based on years of experience. Do your research to find out if you are actually earning what you should be earning at this stage. It’s ok to ask for more than the average but you still need to make sure you’re in the ballpark. Settle on a concrete number before you go into the meeting.
- Select the best examples. Don’t make an endless list of all the value you add to the company. While it may look impressive on paper, it’s just going to clutter the conversation in person. Pick 2 or 3 particularly impressive examples that really stand out and really reflect exactly what you offer. A couple concrete examples will have a stronger impact.
- Select examples for the future. Don’t just talk about what you already did. Talk about what you could do in the future. Think of 1-3 ideas of projects, changes, or ideas that you would want to work on in the future. This shows that you will add new value that is worth investing more in.
Once you’ve prepared the things you will present to your boss when asking for a raise, you should practice. Ask someone you know to practice with you. It sounds silly but doing a few dry runs will help drill the key points into your mind so you can present them even if you are nervous.
#2 Find your time to strike
If your company is going through a rough financial period and people are being let go, it’s probably not really the best time to come in demanding more money. If your last impressive project was completed last year, you might not get the results you’re after.
The best time to ask for a raise is when the company is enjoying some better profit margins or increased sales. And it’s even better if you’ve just recently done something that helped the company either save a lot of money or earn a lot of money. Getting the timing right (or wrong) can really make all the difference.
#3 Start with a positive
One of the key mistakes people make is asking for a raise by pointing out that they haven’t gotten one in a while. Sure, no raise in 3 years is a great reason to finally go ask for one but it’s not a very convincing argument for your boss. And, news alert, your boss knows when you last got a raise. There’s no reason to bring it up. They will already factor that into their decision without you saying it.
So focus on positive things instead. Open the salary negotiation with some of the things you like about working at this company. Talk about the aspects of your career that you enjoy and the values that you share with the company.
This not only sets a more positive tone but demonstrates your value. It’s a much stronger opening than a complaint.
#4 You’re asking for a raise, not threatening them
Come in positive and strong. State your case clearly, thoroughly, and concisely. Then, let your boss respond. Listen carefully and develop clear responses that demonstrate your understanding.
Don’t threaten them with quitting or taking another job. Don’t interrupt them when they are talking. If you disagree, do it in a polite, constructive way. Just keep a general attitude of cooperation. You aren’t fighting your boss for more money. You are encouraging them to see that you are worth more.
#5 Prepare yourself for a no
This doesn’t mean you should go in expecting a no. It simply means that you want to be prepared for the worst case scenario. Being prepared for the possibility that your boss will say no can actually improve your chances of getting a yes. That’s because you’ll go in feeling prepared for whatever happens instead of just being terrified of disappoint.
So practice how you will respond in case you get a no. Are you prepared (mentally and financially) to quit and look for a better job? If you walk out that door, you should be ready for the period of unemployment while you look for new work. If that’s not your plan, are you ready to continue working that job at your current pay rate and ask again later? What will you do in the meantime to improve your chances of getting a higher salary later?
Think of all the different reasons your boss might say no and prepare responses for each one. If you prepare well and time the negotiation right, you probably won’t ever have to use these responses but it is relaxing to have them on hand so that you know you’ve left no loose ends.
Final Word on Asking for a Raise
Mastering the art of asking for a raise is about the art of being confident but not aggressive. You want to show your worth while also showing that you enjoy being a part of this company. You need to do your research, practice your techniques, and be ready to negotiate. So even if you aren’t planning to ask for a few months, you should prepare yourself today!