Asking for a raise can be an awful experience. If you aren’t prepared, it’s nerve racking and can feel like begging. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. As someone who entered the job market when it was still struggling from a recession, I knew that I had to learn how to pick up this skill quickly. If not, I would be left with a stagnant wage that would hurt me for the rest of my career. So, I am taking all of my experience and giving you the shortcut on how to ask for a raise from your boss.
Timing is Important
The timing to get a promotion at your company may be different from when you would be given a raise. If you’re asking for both, you may have to time that differently than just a raise. There are a few times where it is best to ask for a raise.
Most companies have at least a year end review, if not a mid-year one as well. This is my favorite time to bring up raises. You have an automatic excuse to talk about all you have achieved because the point of reviews is to talk about your performance. What actually sparked this post idea is the fact that year end reviews are going to be coming up soon.
A Check-In Conversation Before Compensation Talks
This requires some inside knowledge. I knew around what time each year, management in my department would gather together to talk about promotions. It was much later than year end reviews.
For my last promotion and raise, I had brought up the fact that I thought that I deserved a raise at my year end review. Since my manager and I had bi-weekly check ins, I reiterated my points in a check in conversation about a month or two before these performance meetings were about to take place.
If you missed your year end review opportunity, but know raises haven’t been discussed yet, check in with your boss to talk about your performance.
Use Facts & Be Prepared
You need to prepare before you go into your boss’ office asking for money. “I feel like I deserve a raise” isn’t going to cut it. Everyone feels like they deserve money, but what your boss needs to know is exactly why you deserve money. There’s a few things you’ll need to have mentally handy.
Before you talk to your boss, you should write out a list of all of your accomplishments since your last raise. Know exactly how you have helped your company. Did you save your company $10,000 in servicer fees last year? How about that reporting process you improved which saved your team an extra 5 hours each month? Have you been consistently hitting all of your goals? How many more sales did you bring in this year versus last year?
A lot of people coast through preparing for performance reviews. I would spend hours making sure that I have captured all of my successes. This way, my boss would have no doubt in his mind that I deserve this raise. You need to do the same to make sure you crush your discussion.
Know Your Worth
You should also make sure that you are aware of what your role typically pays in your industry. I love Glassdoor for this purpose. An inside source at your company would be best but not everyone can become besties with someone in HR. Glassdoor is a free website where people anonymously give company reviews, salary information, and interview experiences. All you need to do to gain access is provide a review of a company that you have worked at.
Even if you are at a small company with no reviews, you can still get useful information from Glassdoor. Look at salaries at other companies. See what you would make at competitors or larger organizations for a similar position.
By knowing what you should be making at your company or a competitor, you are able to ask for an appropriate raise. You won’t be nervous to ask for too much or be worried that you are selling yourself short. It also makes it easier to explain to your boss, why you deserve this new salary because you have the data. Since asking for a raise is a negotiation process, always add at least 5-10% to what you think you deserve. You don’t want to end up with less than you deserve, so start high but not too high.
Make Your Boss’ Job Easy
If you’re on a great page with your boss and you know that they value your work, selling them on your raise might not be your biggest challenge. You may be facing approvals from people in higher positions or HR. There may be limited raises for your department so you may be competing against other high performing employees.
That accomplishment list I mentioned before, can be a useful tool for your boss during compensation discussions with management and HR. If during your raise conversation your boss starts saying something like, you definitely deserve a raise but I can’t guarantee how this conversation will go with HR because expenses are tight this year, that’s your cue. You can offer to help the conversation by sending her a list of your achievements.
You can phrase it like this. “I definitely understand that this isn’t guaranteed. I have actually been tracking my contributions to the company as a way to make sure I’m progressing towards my professional goals. Would you find this list helpful as a reference for when you do have this conversation?” This way, you’re making your boss’ life easier while also making sure that they are prepared to fight for your raise.
I am an introvert and situations like this give me anxiety. I don’t want that anxiety to come off during a raise conversation because I want my request to be taken seriously. Even if you aren’t an introvert, you need to practice what you are going to say. You’ll sound so much more confident. If you go into your boss’ office knowing exactly what you are going to say, that confidence will translate into potential in your boss’ eyes. They will see that you are an employee that is going places and deserves this raise.
When All Else Fails
If you are getting shut down after significant contributions to your company, you need to reevaluate your current situation. Sometimes your high performance can’t compensate for your company’s poor performance. If you don’t see a raise or promotion in your future, then your company doesn’t value you. You shouldn’t feel guilty for asking for what your deserve.