You deserve a raise, right? At the very least, you’ve convinced yourself you probably do. But you’re not quite sure how to go about it—and that’s why you’re here. You understand that getting a raise isn’t simply about putting in the hard work and getting recognized. It’s a dance, and you have to know the right steps.
It can be terrifying to even think about asking for a raise. What if they disagree? Will you lose your boss’s respect? Even your job? If you go about it the right way, absolutely not. In fact, we’ve come up with a system that if even your boss says no, you can walk away with your head held high.
Find Your Value
If you know that you deserve a raise, you believe that your work has a higher price tag. Essentially, you should be able to quantify the value of your work. Getting a raise isn’t simply a reward for doing a good job, it’s a simple cause and effect: I can do this for you, and that puts me in a higher pay bracket.
Don’t play “catch up.” You need to take a look at your future goals and responsibilities, and outline how it’s tougher, better work that deserves a pay increase. Find your value based on what you can and will do, not what you’ve already done.
If you approach a pay increase from a “pay-back” standpoint, you’re putting yourself and your boss on the defensive, right out of the gate.
Plan Your Timing
There are two ways to look at timing: when it’s good for you, and when it’s good for your company. When you’re asking for a raise, you need to consider both.
If you’re doing excellent work, taking on more clients and responsibilities, and increasing the scope of your role, it’s a good time for you. If you’re constantly losing races against the clock, disappointing clients, and feel like you’re barely staying afloat, it may not be the right time for you. And if you’re miserable at your job, a pay increase isn’t going to make you happier.
If your company is bringing in a lot of new business, looking to hire on more team members, and making new investments, it’s a great time for your company to give you a raise. If there have been a lot of layoffs, a decrease in sales, and a general scaling back—it may not be the right time to ask for a raise.
Be strategic, look toward future projects, and learn how to work yourself into the ultimate success and growth of the company.
Write Your Pitch
One of the hardest parts of asking for a raise can simply be getting the words out of your mouth. So don’t go in unprepared. Write out everything you want to say, and practice it. Make sure that you know every point you need to hit, and make sure you know what phrases or tactics to avoid (like putting your boss on the defensive, or giving an ultimatum).
Knowledge is power. Be prepared in every way that you can and you’ll surely narrow your chances of failure.
Have Your Backup Plan Ready
Despite even the best planning and preparation, your boss could say no. If he or she does, you need to have a back up plan—so that you’re not picking your jaw off the ground as you walk out.
If your boss can’t swing a raise, find other places where you can leverage benefits. Maybe they can’t offer more money, but they can offer stock options, extended insurance coverage, or cost of living increases. Just because you can’t get a salary increase, it doesn’t mean they won’t find a way to express their appreciation.
Have a counter offer ready to go, so that you don’t regret anything when you get back to your desk.
Know Your Place
Just because you don’t get a pay increase when you ask for it, it doesn’t mean your boss doesn’t value your work. It may just not be the right timing, or you may have overestimated your current value. That should only be motivation to work harder, and prove to your boss when the time comes that you are ready for a raise.
But if you’re not happy at your job, don’t expect a raise to change things. When you feel like it’s time to quit because the work just isn’t worth it, you need to think hard about whether or not this is the job you really want. However substantial, a pay bump can never change your passion (or lack there of) for what you do.
So whatever your situation, know that a little planning ahead, practice, and positive thinking can put you in a great position for the pay increase that you’ve been dreaming about. It will also teach you a lot about how you can do your job to the best of your ability—and more importantly, remind you whether or not you love what you do.
Now go out there, take the risk, and get the raise you know you deserve!