Ask For A Raise — 6 Do’s (and 1 Don’t)

ask for a raise

Asking your boss for more money is hard. We can’t all be that Wells Fargo guy who asked for $10,000 raises for more than 250,000 employees at the company. But you’ve been performing really well lately and you think you deserve a raise; how do you go about doing it?

You should be paid what you’re worth, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. So we’ve listed 6 do’s — and one don’t — that you should keep in mind when you ask for a raise. Here’s what you need to do to get the raise you deserve:

  1. Time your request. Timing is everything. Some good times to ask for a raise:

    • Before raises are usually given at your company. Ask around to find out when this is.

    • Before the budget is set for the next fiscal year. Put out your case for why you deserve a raise at this time, so you can get a bigger slice of the pie while they’re still dividing it up.

    • When your industry or your company is doing extremely well. It’s going to be tough to get a raise when your industry is in a slump.

    • When you’ve handled a huge project extremely well, or performed well beyond expectations.

  2. Keep a file of your accomplishments. Throughout the year, note down your significant accomplishments: important projects delivered, targets exceeded, anything that shows you’ve performed over and above the requirements of your position. Include solid numbers that show good performance. Document your notable achievements as they happen, because you might forget about them later, and refer to them during your meeting with your boss. Remember, just doing your job isn’t enough reason for a raise — to get extra pay, you have to show that you’re performing extra well.

  3. Know how to approach your boss. You know your boss better than we do. Are they the direct-to-the-point type? If so, send an email or let them know verbally that you want to meet to discuss your salary. Does your boss prefer more subtlety? Segue into your request during a relevant conversation you have, like if you’re discussing your work performance. Use your rapport with your boss to determine the best way to approach them, so that you start off on the right foot.

  4. Toot your own horn. This is not the time to be humble. Despite what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said (and immediately apologized for), “knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise” without you asking for it never works. Be assertive. Use that list of accomplishments to justify the raise you’re asking for. Emphasize the value of your contributions to the company. Highlight your achievements in your position, and bring their attention to work you’ve done that they may have missed. Pretend it’s another job interview and sell yourself.

  1. Do your research — have a number ready. Before going into the meeting, get an idea of where you fall in your company’s pay scales, and do some research on your market value, so you can have a realistic number in your head. Much like you’d do at a job interview, you can either tell your boss your expected amount directly, or let them make the first offer. The best tactic to take really depends on your boss, and what you think would work better with them. (You might want to read up on negotiation tactics, too.)

  1. If rejected, ask what you need to do to get a raise — or ask for different rewards. Rejection sucks. But maybe your numbers weren’t good enough. Ask your boss for a firm target of how much more you need to do to deserve a raise. If they can’t give you a straight answer, that could be a red flag. If they do tell you, great! You now know exactly what to do to get that raise. Use their feedback to assess your performance and reflect on how you can improve.

    However, if the reason is that money is tight at the company, ask for other perks, like a one-time bonus, or more flexitime, so you can still be rewarded for your excellence without hurting the company’s bottom line.

  1. NEVER lay down an ultimatum. This will only put your boss on the defensive, and hurt your standing in the company in the long run. Even if they do give a counter offer, they’ll know that you’re already unsettled and have thought about leaving. If your work is truly excellent, you won’t need to lay down ultimatums. So instead, simply be assertive about the value of your contributions, and make it clear that you know how much you deserve to be paid for your performance. And however your talks go, always make sure that you end on a positive and professional note.

Have you asked for a raise recently? Do you have any additional advice? Let us know in the comments!

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