In a perfect world, an employee would never have to ask for a raise. Bosses would recognize the value you bring to your role and give you a raise. In the real world, that’s rarely the reality. If you want a raise, you have to ask for one. Self-promotion and frank discussions about money are uncomfortable but necessary. Here are five tips on how to ask for a raise – and getting it.
Do your homework
Too often, employees try to ask for a raise by stating why they need more money. No matter how awesome your boss is, the fact that you’re about to buy a house or just found out a coworker makes more than you aren’t a good enough reason to increase your salary. You need to go into the conversation prepared to prove that you deserve more.
First, make a list of recent examples of when you went above and beyond expectations and provided real value for the company. Did you put in extra hours to finish a big project on a short deadline? Did you come up with an innovation that will reduce expenses or increase revenues? Tie your examples to specific performance metrics wherever possible.
The next step is knowing what you’re worth. Never ask for a raise without being ready to tell your boss how much you want. Use our salary guide to get an idea of how much you should be asking for.
Time it right
Picking the right time to ask for a raise is crucial. There are two good times to ask for a raise:
A few months before your annual review
If your company performs annual reviews in January, your boss is likely budgeting for salary in October or November. If you wait until January to ask for a raise, your boss may not have room in the budget to give you more.
Schedule some time a few months before your review to talk about what you’ve accomplished so far, what you have planned for the future, and why you hope to get a pay bump at your next review.
When you are about to take on a new role or a major project
Say one of your coworkers is leaving and your boss informs you they’re considering not hiring a replacement. She asks you to take on some new job duties to pick up the slack.
This is an excellent time to ask for a raise because A) an exiting employee will free up space in the budget, and B) you’re being asked to take on more responsibility.
Demonstrate the right attitude
When you discuss a raise with your boss, the way you act is just as important as what you ask for. Be confident – you know your worth. Show that you’re grateful – appreciate the time your boss is taking to have this conversation and the opportunities you’ve been given. Be enthusiastic – you’re excited about your future with the company. Entering a difficult conversation with a positive attitude will help remind your boss why you’re a valued member of the team.
Prepare for any outcome
Your boss may not be able to answer your question on the spot. If they say they’ll get back to you after reviewing the budget or talking to the higher-ups, end the meeting by asking when you can expect to hear back.
Keep in mind that you may not get the raise you want today. Find out why and ask if you can revisit the subject again in six months to a year – then do what you can to get to your goal. If your boss promises an increase in the future – or establishes conditions you need to meet to earn a raise – get those promises documented in writing.
If you get a hard no without any indication of what you can do to turn it around, it might be time to talk to a recruiter. Unfortunately, some companies have unrealistic ideas of what it takes to keep good employees. You might have to move on to get the raise you deserve.