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How to Ask for a Raise

Key Takeaways 

  • Research is key. How does your salary compare to other professionals in your area?
  • Timing is everything. Approaching your boss after a big accomplishment is going to work in your favor.

Women are requesting pay raises more than ever before — debunking the stereotype that women do not receive raises because they don’t ask. As society moves forward, more women are beginning to find their professional voices.

So if you think you’re due for a pay increase, make sure you take the necessary steps to get it!

1. Does your boss know you want a raise?

In your regular engagements with your manager, you should be having preliminary discussions about your goals and expectations within the department, and the company as a whole. When you eventually ask your manager for a raise, it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Feedback from these conversations should bring about a clear understanding of what actions you need to take for a raise or promotion to happen.

2. Have you done your research?

Look into how your job’s salary compares to the national average, as well as within your geographic area. If possible, search internally; does your company have a pre-determined pay scale? If so, what is it based on? If you’re underpaid comparatively, that information will be a strong bargaining chip — facts can be persuasive.  

3. Is it the right time to ask?

You’ll want to put some time on your manager’s calendar when things aren’t crazy in the office. If your department is in the middle of a big project and everyone is pulling double duty, your boss may not have the mental capacity to give your request the consideration it deserves. Wait until things calm down a bit, and then make your move — especially if you were instrumental in the big win. Approaching your boss after a big accomplishment is going to work in your favor.

Pro tip: Don’t wait for your annual review. By that time the money is already spent. You’ll want to meet a few months prior, so that when your bosses have money to spend, they’ll hopefully be thinking of you.

4. Do you have a list of your accomplishments?

It’s not vain or bigheaded to keep a running list of your accomplishments. It’s necessary; never assume your manager knows what you do, and how you contribute. Keep a kudos folder in your email, or start an Excel document, so you have evidence to support the value you add. Be prepared to tell your dragon-slaying story describing how you consistently go above and beyond.

Pro tip: Be as specific as possible. Show dollar amounts whenever you can. “My workflow solution increased revenue by $100,000 last quarter” is a lot stronger and more believable than, “I helped increase revenue.” 

5. Do you have a professional demeanor?

Talking about your worth and what you bring to your position can be inherently emotional. Do your best to stay buttoned up and professional. The conversation should be data driven — facts not feelings. Never talk about what co-workers are making, instead talk about what other professionals are earning in your region. Talk about why you deserve the raise, not the personal reasons you might need a raise.

6. Are you prepared to hear no?

If you did everything right — you researched, you slayed the dragons, you went above and beyond — the answer may still be “no.” There are plenty of “good” reasons why you can’t have a raise… right now. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper. Ask why. There may be budget constraints, or maybe the company is on a financial downturn.

If the answer is “not right now,” then negotiate more fringe benefits like working from home options, additional paid time off or comp time. The key is to leave your emotions out of the conversation, and focus on closing the deal.

Pro tip: Even if you are turned down for a raise right now, you’ve made your manager aware of your contributions and value, so next time there is money available, you’ll be on top of the list.

7. Are you prepared to follow up?

Own the conversation and make sure you handle any open items. If time runs out, request to put an additional meeting on the calendar. If a performance issue is brought up, work to correct it and check back in a month to ensure you’re on task. Also, your boss may have to go through an approval process to get your raise. If so, ask how long it typically takes and check back in after the allotted timeframe.

The bottom line.

The truth is the work you do matters, and the value you add should be compensated fairly. There are still many women who go into these important conversations under-prepared or avoid them altogether because they are afraid of rocking the boat.

Advocate for yourself with a fierce professionalism that gets results. If you’re not getting the response you expect, in a reasonable timeframe, it may be time to look outside your current organization. You shouldn’t feel stuck, or just lucky enough to have a job. Find your voice, and write the next chapter of your story.

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