If there was a list titled ‘Top 10 Most Dreaded Conversations’, asking for a raise would have to be somewhere on it. Yet, if you’ve been at the same company for more than a couple of years, it’s one that’s bound to come up.
Whether you dread bringing it up to your boss because talking about money feels awkward, because you’re a people-pleaser and want to keep management happy, or just because you’ve never done it before and it feels scary, there are some definite tips and tricks to keep in mind. Below we’ve listed how to know if you deserve a raise, how to ask for one, and what to expect afterwards.
Will it still be awkward? Most likely. But can you be prepared? Absolutely!
Do You Deserve A Raise?
You may want to grab a glass of wine or some chocolate for this heart-to-heart with yourself. It’s time for some self-assessment and brutal honesty about the quality of your work, and you’ll need to put your ego aside to give yourself a realistic readout.
First, have you been doing amazing work for at least a year? If you’ve received a raise within the last 12 months, or feel that while you’ve met all of your job expectations, you haven’t really exceeded them, it’s probably not the right time to ask for a pay increase. Ask yourself this: If you were your boss, how would you feel about your work?
If you pass question number one, then ask yourself this: Do you have numbers that prove that amazing work? Did you receive some sort of training or take on additional responsibilities that increased your value to the company? Unfortunately, working somewhere for a year while meeting the basic job requirements doesn’t guarantee a bump in your paycheck. Your company needs to know why they should give you more, and that will ultimately come down to whether or not your position is bringing up their bottom line.
Next, remember that timing is everything. Is your review period coming up in a few months? Hold out until then. Is this a really busy and stressful time for your department? Might not be the best time to bring it up. Can you wait until after you’ve nailed a big project? It might be worth the wait so your value is fresh on the company’s mind.
If you’re not sure that it’s the right time, but your work is definitely deserving of some monetary recognition, you could consider asking for a bonus instead of a raise. Another reason to bring up a raise even if the timing isn’t perfect is if you know that you’re being grossly underpaid in your position. You can use this website to find out if you’re being paid the average for your position. Keep in mind, however, that things like your experience level, responsibilities, and job description may justify your pay being lower or higher than the average.
How To Ask The Big Question
Try and schedule the meeting ahead of time, rather than storming in to the office Monday morning and demanding an audience with your supervisor. Make sure you dress the part, even if your office dress code is casual, and remember that you’ve done your research – be confident!
Talking about money can be very emotional, so it’s helpful to write down specific examples of why you deserve a pay increase – you may even want to try rehearsing what you’re going to say. You’ll feel ridiculous doing it, but it’s worth it to not stumble over your words when facing your boss.
Don’t give personal information as a reason for deserving a pay increase: The company needs facts and figures to justify paying you more, and even if you heard that Sally down the hall makes more than you, or you need a pay bump because your rent just went up, those can’t be the reasons you give for deserving a raise. If you can, ask for the raise after a big accomplishment, or come into the meeting with a list of responsibilities you’d like to take on to justify the increase.
If you get a flat out ‘no’ during the meeting, don’t leave with your tail between your legs. What else would feel like a win? Can you work from home one day a week? Could your boss add in a few more vacation days to your benefits package? People are way more likely to give you a ‘yes’ to a smaller request if they just said ‘no’ to a big request; so even if you didn’t win the jackpot, you might still be able to walk away with something.
The Waiting Game
It’s normal to wait at least a week before hearing back from a raise request, and it could take even longer if your boss doesn’t have the authority to make that decision. The best way to beat the waiting game is to ask at the end of the meeting when you can expect to hear back.
If your supervisor tells you no, don’t take it personally. Have a good rant session after work, journal angrily about it, or cry on the way home – but remember that at the end of the day, it’s probably just not in the budget or goes against a company policy. Ask your manager what steps you can take to justify a raise, and create a plan of action to reach it.
If the answer is ‘yes’, but it’s not nearly the amount you asked for, remember: Raises are usually only 1-3% of your annual salary. Compromise is better than no raise at all, and you can still ask your boss what needs to be done to ensure another raise down the line.
Asking for a raise is never fun – but it also doesn’t have to fill you with a dread that leaves you tossing and turning the night before. Do your research, prepare your case, and ask confidently. Plan something fun to do on the day you get your answer: It’ll either be a celebration, or a reminder that life will go on with or without the boost in your bank account.
Have you ever asked for a raise? Let us know in the comments what you would have done differently, and share your tips!