How To Ask For A Raise

How To Ask For A Raise

Given how much most of us appreciate money, it’s quite surprising that only a few would have the guts to ask for a salary raise from their boss. Some people think it’s awkward, others are afraid to sound entitled or greedy, while the rest just aren’t sure how to do it. 

Regardless of the reason why that’s holding you back, you can take comfort in the fact that it isn’t necessarily a question of ethics, but rather, a business negotiation. 

And just like every business negotiation, asking for a raise is about getting the best remuneration that matches your value proposition. Well, at least, that’s how it’s supposed to be universally.  That’s why as a disclaimer before you jump the gun on this one, make sure you temper it with an honest self-assessment of the value that you’re bringing to the company.

How do you go about the process? 

While there isn’t really a one size fits all strategy to go about this, polishing up on your negotiation skills, timing, and approach can make that feat less intimidating and achievable. 

Here’s a crash course on how you should ask for that well-deserved raise!

1. Do your homework and crunch down the numbers

Before you even begin your quest, it pays to be aware of where you stand. Self-assessment can be quite subjective, this is what performance reviews are there for. How have you fared so far in achieving your professional goals? Have you hit your metrics, quota, or KPI?’

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. Make sure you have all the necessary numbers to back up your claims – have a number ready. 

Ask yourself these questions

Have you significantly increased the company’s revenue or profit? Did you manage to boost customer satisfaction effectively? Did your performance drive a significant amount of efficiency in your company’s process? If yes, by how much and how long?

You’ll be showing off how awesome of an employee you are, and you can’t do that without any tangible results to back it up. While performance review can be a good starting point on where to look for numbers, doing your own research, and having a paper trail of all transactions you’ve done and results you’ve brought to the table will come in handy!

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.

Overachieving your goals can be a good bargaining chip for salary negotiations, but it isn’t a prerequisite. Consistency in hitting your targets and meeting your overall goals is already an accomplishment that you can be proud of.

2. Don’t be timid, toot your own horn

This is not the time to be timid. 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. 

If you’ve reached certain milestones in your work that the company agrees to be exemplary, that can be a perfect justification for a raise. It should be exemplary in a sense that you’re always way ahead of your target, consistently – not just once or two months in a row, but a consistent habitual overachievement. 

Be assertive, but still humble.

3. Find the right timing 

Whether you like it or not, the company you are working for is just like every other business. They go through the same highs and lows that every business normally encounters. The key here is to be emotionally intelligent about your timing – if your boss is anxious about impending budget cuts, obviously it isn’t a good time to ask for raise. 

Timing can be different for every company and every employee, what is constant however are internal affairs that will affect a company’s growth and decision making. Keeping note of these affairs can help you time your approach better. 

  • Before the budget is set for the next fiscal year. This is the best time to 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.
  • At least a year after your first day of employment or your last salary raise. Another point to take note of when it comes to timing is when you’ve had your last salary raise and how long you’ve already been in the company. Give it at least a year to prove how you are worthy of that much-desired increase.  

4. Approaching your boss: find your footing

You know your boss better than anyone else. 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.

Take advantage of performance review sessions to raise this matter to your boss. It will make the task easier and more appropriate.

5. 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.

How to handle a rejection

Rejection sucks. Maybe your numbers weren’t good enough? Ask your boss for a firm target to be entitled for a raise. Maybe the company is just isn’t in its best disposition to provide an increment? Ask for a different reward like one-time bonus, or more flexi-time, so you can still be rewarded for your excellence without hurting the company’s bottom line. Or, you can bargain to wait it out until your company is already doing well. 

If they can’t give you a straight answer, that could be a red flag. If they do tell you, great! You’ll now know exactly what to do and when to get that raise.

Asking your boss for more money is hard. We can’t all be that Wells Fargo guy who asked for a $10,000 raise for more than 250,000 employees at the company. But if you’ve been performing really well at work, it’s a reward that you shouldn’t be deprived from.

The fear of sounding greedy and entitled is what holds most people back. Money matters is a subject that many find uncomfortable to discuss. However, if you temper your approach with humility and a dose of (self) honesty, you’ll pull through with flying colors. 

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




This article was originally published in October 2014 and is updated to keep information relevant and up to date. 

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