How to Ask for a Raise at Work
If you’re wondering how to ask for a raise at work, first of all, understand that you’re not alone. Asking for a raise can be intimidating! Especially if you’ve never done it before. In fact, one survey found that almost two-thirds of workers have never asked for a raise!
Because of the intimidation factor, many people end up waiting for their superiors to give them a raise on their own. However, if you don’t ask for one, your employer is likely to assume you are satisfied with your salary. So if your company doesn’t regularly hand out raises (most do not!), people often end up making much less than they could be, or never getting a raise at all and become disgruntled.
But don’t let this happen to you! Here are some effective tips for how to ask for a raise at work and earn the compensation you deserve.
- Understand that asking for a raise is normal
- Be conscious of your timing
- Consider the way your company structures raises
- Do your research and know your worth
- How to discuss your raise
- Prepare by practicing
- Be prepared for various outcomes, even a “no”
1. Understand that asking for a raise is normal
Often, the intimidation surrounding asking for a raise at work involves not wanting to be perceived as ungrateful, greedy, or that you’re just in it for the money.
First of all, nearly everyone in the entire modern working world is compensated for their time, effort, and expertise with a paycheck. So even if you’re lucky enough to be employed doing something you love, you’re still essentially “doing it for the money,” because you have to do something. And that is a concept everyone understands, even your boss. So don’t let that perception hold you back. Next, asking for a raise that’s deserved is not greedy. Rather, it is a reflection of your worth to the company being recognized by both you and your employer.
Another thing to keep in mind is that although asking for a raise at work isn’t a regular part of your job, discussing raises is likely a regular part of your supervisor’s job. It is a normal conversation that happens in a workplace, so don’t feel like you are asking anything out of the ordinary!
2. Be conscious of your timing
Sometimes the key to how to ask for a raise at work is to know when to ask for a raise! The timing of when you ask for a raise is crucial in a few ways.
Considering your supervisor
First, you need to keep in mind that your supervisor is a person, too, and is susceptible to stress and other factors. If your supervisor is under a lot of pressure from a current project or even just having a bad day, wait until a better time to have this discussion with you.
Alternatively, has your supervisor been really happy with your performance for a while? Or have you just completed a project or deal with a customer they are especially satisfied with? Catching your supervisor in a good mood and when they are pleased with your work are excellent times to bring up the conversation about your compensation.
How long has it been since your last raise?
If you’re still wondering how to ask for a raise at work and you’ve been delivering excellent work for a year since your salary was last set, it’s definitely reasonable for you to ask to revisit your compensation. While some companies will automatically revisit your pay during yearly performance reviews, many do not. If not, then bringing it up on your own might be necessary.
However, if your pay has already increased in the past year, asking for another pay increase too soon before the year is up might not be realistic. Although, exceptions might be made within this time period if you’ve taken on substantially more responsibilities than your normal job description requires.
Does your company have normal raise/budget cycles?
Some companies have specific times once a year that they generally give out raises. This likely coincides with either the fiscal year of the company or an employee’s start date anniversary. If so, pay attention to when this happens at your company. Once you’re aware of this timeframe, begin conversations about a raise with your supervisor a couple of months before this time to give them ample time to figure your request into budget decisions.
3. Consider the way your company structures raises
Before you attempt to ask for a raise at work, take time to find out if your company has a set structure regarding salaries and raises. For example, oftentimes a company will strictly adhere to a standard of no more than a 5% salary increase at a time. If so, knowing this will give you a better idea of what you can realistically expect when you ask for a raise at work. A company might also only give raises at certain times of the year, or only at certain landmarks within an employee’s time spent at the company (i.e. only giving significant raises at 1, 5, and 10 year anniversaries for your job title.)
4. Do your research and know your worth
After you have your mindset right and have considered a few logistics about how to ask for a raise at work, the next super important step is to do some research! Get on a few salary research websites and find out the average compensation for your job title in your area. This will help you gauge where you are on the scale and what might be reasonable to ask for with your experience and abilities.
Suppose you are being under-compensated compared to other professionals with your experience in your industry. In that case, it’s important not to use this information as “blackmail” or make your employer feel “cornered” into paying you a certain amount. Instead, approach it as a demonstration that you are aware of your worth in the industry. You should always express that you are grateful for the opportunities at your company and want to remain loyal to them. However, no one can deny that if they cannot match the compensation you could easily receive elsewhere for the worth you bring, it would be natural for you to go to a place where they can.
However, keep in mind that this only applies if you’ve been consistent in providing excellent work, bringing value to your company, and maybe even taking on more than you originally signed up for.
5. How to discuss your raise
Next, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how to ask for a raise at work. First, we’ve seen the importance of being in a frame of mind that asking for a raise is normal. Second, that you need to be conscious of your timing when making this request. Third, you need to know how your company approaches raises. And, most importantly, that you need to know your worth as a worker in your industry and be armed with research about what you are asking.
So now that you’ve done all the groundwork, how do you ask for a raise at work and approach the actual discussion?
How to act
Always approach a conversation about your compensation with confidence, gratitude, and enthusiasm. If you don’t express confidence in yourself that you deserve a raise, it will be more difficult for your employer to believe you deserve one. Always express gratitude for the experiences and opportunities you’ve had at your company, and express enthusiasm for your future goals there.
How to speak
When you ask for a raise at work, it’s important to be clear and specific with your request. Don’t be vague or beat around the bush. Be clear that you intend to discuss a raise in your compensation. Being direct will display competence. Also, be specific about what you are asking. This is where all of your research about the average compensation in your field comes into play. If you have a set percentage increase in mind, discuss those numbers plainly. Don’t make your employer try to guess! And don’t undercut yourself by not vocalizing the specific increase you are requesting. If you leave it up to your employer, they will undoubtedly begin negotiations lower than your preferred amount.
Justify your raise!
You do not need to come prepared with a PowerPoint presentation of why you deserve a raise. However, you do need to select a few very specific examples of how you have provided excellent work, satisfied customers, exceeded expectations and goals, and/or taken on extra responsibilities. Justify your merit for a raise with applicable data of why you have earned it!
6. Prepare by practicing
Don’t just wonder how to ask for a raise at work. Practice how to ask for a raise at work! As we’ve already mentioned, asking for a raise can be intimidating for a lot of people. The best way to combat those feelings of intimidation and “stage fright” is to have a general idea of what you want to say and practice it several times. This doesn’t mean you need to come up with an actual script and sound rehearsed. On the contrary! Simply have the points you want to make memorized so you feel prepared.
While practicing in front of a mirror is better than nothing, it is optimal to practice how to ask for a raise at work with a friend. Rehearse and practice what you will say when you enter the room with your supervisor. Also, practice responding to questions they might ask. This sense of preparedness in knowing what to say and how to say it will translate confidence to your supervisor and make them more likely to likewise feel confident in granting your request.
7. Be prepared for various outcomes, even a “no”
We’ve discussed how many people feel intimidated about asking for a raise at work because they don’t want to be perceived as ungrateful, greedy, or just in it for the money. However, let’s be honest. One of the main reasons people are intimidated to ask for a raise is the possibility that they might receive a “no” from their employer, and all that could mean.
First of all, your supervisor not granting you a raise might not be based on your performance or merit at all, but rather on other factors out of their control such as current budget limitations. This is why it’s important to consider the various outcomes your supervisor might have for you and be prepared to respond accordingly.
I’ll have to think about it
If your supervisor gives you this response, don’t worry. It is very common and reasonable for your supervisor to need time to consider your request and maybe run it by a few other people. If so, make sure you’re not left waiting endlessly by asking for what a good day would be to follow up about the issue. This creates a deadline ensuring your supervisor can’t just sweep the issue under a rug and forget about it.
It is not uncommon for negotiation to take place at a compensation discussion. Therefore, arm yourself with plenty of research (as mentioned above) about average compensation for your role, your performance statistics, and the loyalty and value you bring to the company. Research and employ good negotiation tactics. Be firm in what you know you are worth but never demanding. Always approach the negotiation from a place of confidence in the value you bring and not from a place of desperation about what you need.
For example, don’t explain that you need a raise because of your rent increasing or requiring extra childcare. Your employers will always be much more ready to respond to appeals to a raise due to merit and consistent quality performance than desperation or entitlement.
Not right now
Sometimes you might be given the response that a raise just isn’t possible right now. If that’s the case, ask when would be a good time to revisit this conversation. If you are truly deserving of a raise and your company just cannot afford the extra pay at the time, ask if there are any extra perks or benefits they can offer you in the meantime until they can compensate you appropriately. Maybe they can offer you extra vacation days, half days on Fridays, a couple of work-from-home days per week, etc.
It’s the scary word none of us want to hear. But you always need to be prepared for the possibility that your employer might just give you a solid “No” to your request for a raise. If that happens, always respond graciously, with an attitude that you are willing to learn and improve. If they say no due to merit, ask what you might do better or improve on to earn a raise, and then seek to apply those improvements.
However, if it is apparent that this employer is just not willing to acknowledge the value of your contribution, it’s possible you might need to seek employment in a company where they do.
If your supervisor approves your raise, congratulations! Enjoy the extra compensation you deserve! And most importantly, keep up the good work! If you’ve been granted a raise, this isn’t time to slack off. Keep your employers confident in their decision to trust you with a higher income by continuing to provide excellence in your work.
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