The best leaders know when you’re due for a salary increase. They’re two steps ahead of you (the employee), and schedule your review before it even crosses your mind.
But what if you’re not one of the lucky ones? What if your salary hasn’t changed in quite some time?
Well, waiting around isn’t going to get you what you want any faster. You’re going to have to ask for what you want.
Sure, it’s scary to put your performance under a microscope and ask for more. Yet, people do it every day. They overcome their fears and put themselves out there, hoping their request is accepted.
To help quell your fears, new research shows that 88% of senior managers worry about losing their top talent.
You read that right.
That means you may be in a better position to negotiate a pay increase than you think.
In this article, we’ll share seven expert tips to getting a pay raise, so you can ask for one with confidence and get paid what you deserve.
Here are seven tips on asking for a raise, covering everything from how to ask, how much to ask for, when to ask, and what to do after you’ve made the request.
A lot of people wait for their performance review or annual review to ask for a raise. There’s nothing wrong with that tactic since you literally have a forum to discuss performance and compensation.
However, it’s not necessary to wait a year or more if you feel you deserve a raise sooner.
Being happy at work is important. That’s true whether you’re doing something you love or getting paid what you feel is fair. It’s normal to ask for a raise, so don’t feel entitled or greedy for doing so.
A raise is a recognition of all your hard work. It’s not a gift. It’s not a favor. It’s an incentive from the company to keep up the great work. It’s their way of retaining you. Otherwise, you’ll likely start looking elsewhere for a job that pays competitively.
Don’t worry that you’ll damage your reputation by asking, either. The only way you could do that is if you’re asking for an amount completely out of touch with reality or you go into it with the wrong attitude.
Ultimately, you have to find the right balance of showing confidence, without being arrogant. A mindset that says
“I’ve worked hard, and I believe fair compensation is in order.”
Timing is everything. If your boss is having a bad day or venting to you about budget cuts, then it’s safe to assume it isn’t a good time.
The same thing goes for layoffs. If the company just let a bunch of people go, it’s likely not likely that they have extra cash to go around.
If you just got a raise a few months ago or within the past two quarters, it may not be as feasible either.
If last year was the last time you got a raise, or perhaps longer, you’re probably in the clear, especially if you’ve consistently exceeded expectations.
If you’ve recently pulled off a big project, landed a big sale, or saved the company by implementing cost-saving measures, that’s a prime time to make your move. Do it while your accomplishments are fresh on everyone’s mind, and people are still reaping the benefits.
Like all projects, the shine will fade and become the new normal, so you’re not doing yourself any favors by waiting.
The time of year is also worth considering. If the company’s budget comes out early in the year, then asking in the spring or summer might be tough, since the budget may already be set until next year.
Asking later in the year (October – December) can give them a chance to budget for it next year. Asking early in the year when the company has more available funds might also work in your favor.
A lot of people get stuck on deciding how much to ask for and justifying it. That may leave you wondering: what is the average amount to ask for in a raise?
3-5% is average. 10% isn’t unheard of, but it’s less likely.
You’ll have to really sell why you deserve that or more in your salary negotiation.
An extension of doing your homework is figuring out the going rate for your position. Sites like Glassdoor can help determine the going market rate or salary range for your role, so you at least have a starting point.
It’ll vary not only by role but tenure (length of service). Senior reps tend to make more than junior reps because of their experience.
Average wages will also vary by city, state, and country. A job in San Francisco, California, will likely have a higher salary than Des Moines, Iowa. The cost of living is much higher in California, so you can expect the range to skew toward the upper level.
It also helps to get a good understanding of your company’s compensation structure. Some are more flexible, while others are more rigid. You’ll find that some are big on merit (i.e. paying for your performance) while others stick to the standard increase of 2-5% with little wavering.
But, you’ll never get what you don’t ask for, so be prepared to offer up a number in your performance review or raise discussion.
Arguably the most difficult part of asking for a raise is figuring out how to time the conversation with your superior.
It’s almost taboo in many countries to ask for pay increases, so it’s worth taking a moment to strategize on how you will pose the question.
A couple of options to consider include asking to schedule some time to talk about growth and compensation or asking in passing to speak with them in the moment about growth and compensation.
The way you broach the question can have both pros and cons.
Asking in the moment
Catching them off guard and having strong points to back up your plea could work in your favor since they don’t have the luxury of doing their own research or preparing objections.
It could also put a sour taste in their mouth since you did it so abruptly. Or it could force them to deflect the conversation to another time.
Scheduling time to discuss
On the other hand, asking to schedule time gives them the upper hand, since they can prepare for the conversation and potentially shoot you down with a more reasoned explanation. But, it could also create goodwill and the format for a thoughtful discussion.
Which route you choose should depend on your relationship with your boss. If you have a strong working relationship and feel comfortable just popping into their office for a chat, then go with the spontaneous approach.
If your boss tends to be very business-like and prefers discussions to be scheduled and official, then make sure you request a meeting in advance.
Doing your homework ahead of time will make the conversation flow better. It will also give you more confidence going into the meeting. It gives you a chance to address any impressive hard and soft skills you possess that could give you a leg up in the conversation.
The most important thing you need to nail down is why you deserve a raise.
In that regard, what you don’t say is just as important as what you do say. It’s best to focus less on personal reasons like wanting to buy a house or save up for something special and more on your recent accomplishments and the skill set you bring to the role.
What value have you brought the business lately? What are you doing above and beyond the role’s expectations? How does that align with your job title and description?
To help on this journey, consider creating and keeping up with an “I love me” folder or note. Fill it with all the great things you do.
It’s a document or folder full of the things that make you great. Fill it with awards, customer feedback, praise from colleagues, recently completed projects or online certificate programs, and more. If you keep something like that going, it’ll make potential raises, and promotion conversations feel much smoother since you have actual examples to fall back on.
Knowing what to say when asking for a raise is critical to getting what you want. Not being prepared is akin to not asking at all. You can almost guarantee that you’ll end up disappointed with the answer.
The ideal scenario is you enter the conversation with leverage of some kind. Look back on your years of experience and consider what you bring to the table.
Do you have a large book of clients that would leave if you left? Do you possess in-depth process and product knowledge that’s hard to replicate?
Knowing those answers makes the negotiation feel more seamless.
It’s also good to rehearse all the possible scenarios and how you’ll react to each one. If they say that the timing is bad, have a response ready such as, “when can we revisit the conversation?” Then ask for a specific date or month for a follow-up appointment.
If they say you’re asking for too much money, a constructive reaction could be, “what would someone have to do to be worth that salary?” Look over your job description and fill in the gaps so you can become the kind of person that deserves the raise you’re seeking.
If they say they’ll get back to you, a thoughtful follow-up is in order. It’s always wise to send an email (or handwritten note) thanking them for their time and expressing gratitude for their consideration.
If they have the conversation and end up giving you what you want, this is especially important. You’ll want to take extra care and attention to live up to your job title and own responsibilities that are in your control.
Show them with your actions that giving you a raise was a worthy cause.
If they end up delaying the conversation, you’ll want to make sure they know you’re serious about continuing the discussion.
Again, crush it in your current role, and don’t give them any excuse to continue kicking the conversation away.
Finally, if they say no and give you items to work on, express gratitude for their feedback and let them know you’re enthusiastic about working on those items and revisiting the conversation at a later date.
The bottom line is that expressing gratitude, showing enthusiasm, and working really hard is the ticket to getting what you want.
Sometimes time or external factors will trip you up, but if you truly give it your all and enter every situation with the right attitude, good things will come.
If you get the raise, then fully accept any new or additional responsibilities that come with it, just like you would any potential perks.
Make your new deliverables or performance standards your top priority. Follow-up regularly with new superiors and make sure any new subordinates have everything they need to be successful.
In essence, take ownership of your work and pride in what you do, and the company should not only see that but recognize you even more for it.
What’s holding you back from asking for a raise? Share your story in the comments section below. If you’re in the market for something new, be sure to tap into the Jobcase community for help.