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Want a Raise? How to Ask For One (and Get a Yes)
If you don't ask, you don't get. - Stevie Wonder
If you're an employee, you've probably dreamed of marching into your boss's office, slamming your fist on his desk, and demanding higher pay. In such a scenario, very few bosses would smile and say, "no problem."
Asking for a pay raise is an art in itself. You have to approach the topic with a prepared and confident attitude. No one else in your workplace cares about your career and salary as much as you do. It's your responsibility to ensure that you're being compensated fairly.
If you feel that you deserve a bigger paycheck, don't go marching into your boss's office just yet! You need to determine whether or not you're justified in asking for a raise right now.
To ask or not to ask?
How long have you been working for the company? If you've been at the same company for less than a year, it's in poor form to ask for a raise. Wait until you're one or two years in the same position to ask for a change in compensation.
When was the last time you've gotten a raise? Was it before or after your role has changed? Put yourself in the company's shoes; would they find it fair to raise your pay right now?
Are you doing more work now than before? Let's say the company laid someone off and had you absorb the former employee's tasks into your schedule. If you're carrying the workload of two full-time employees without any change in compensation, you deserve a raise more than anyone else does.
Is the company in good financial standing? If the company is merging or laying a lot of people off, you might want to think twice about asking for a raise because they're likely to be strapped for money. However, if you find new positions and fresh hires popping up everywhere, the company clearly has some money to spend.
If you decide that now is a good time to ask for a raise, go ahead and…
Build your case.
When you ask for a raise, your boss is certainly going to ask you why you deserve one. Unless you conjure up a few good reasons, there is no way on earth your boss would even think about jacking up your pay. You need a solid case before walking into your boss's office, and you won't have one until you come up with the facts to back the following arguments:
I'm not making as much as I should be.
Your boss will take this argument with a grain of salt unless you back it with some cold, hard facts. You have to prove that the company is underpaying you. The first thing you have to do is to find out what you're worth. Check out websites like Glassdoor.com, Payscale.com, or Getraised.com to find out what your field typically pays. You can also ask your coworkers, only if they don't mind spilling the beans on how much they earn and if it's not against company policy. If you find out that people with a similar job title as yours earn more than you do, make it your mission to prove that your performance is at the top of your field. Be sure to keep documentation of everything you find, so you can lay it all out on your boss's desk for her to review.
The company can afford to raise my pay.
Let's say your boss listens to your argument about being undercompensated, only to shrug and say, "Sorry. There's nothing I can do. The company isn't doing so hot right now, and we all have to tighten our belts." Is this true, or could your boss be trying to weasel out of slightly inflating your paycheck? There's no way to know unless you evaluate the company's financial health. You can do this by looking at financial reports, monitoring the company's stock, and following business news. How great would it be if you could say, "I'm afraid I've heard otherwise. To my knowledge, the company's stock has been increasing steadily in value over the last year." Not only does this show that you care enough to follow the company closely, it also illustrates you as a go-getter who won't give up at the first try.
My skills and accomplishments are invaluable to the company.
Like the famous saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Simply standing around bragging about your skills and accomplishments won't take you anywhere, especially during a salary negotiation. You have to show your boss how you helped improve the bottom line of the company. Bring in some numbers that will delineate how your hard work brought in more revenue than before.
Once you have a rock-solid case under your belt, it's time to…
Schedule a meeting with your boss.
There are very few things bosses hate more than surprise meetings. Your boss is a very busy person who barely has any time to consider an important request that has been unexpectedly dropped onto his plate. In such a scenario, your boss would be likely to say no to a raise. There is a very easy way to prevent this from happening. Simply schedule a face-to-face meeting with your boss and state that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss your career growth. By doing this, you're giving your boss enough time to prepare for any requests that may arise. However, if you have an annual performance review coming up, you can wait until then to ask for a pay raise.
Practice, practice, practice!
When your grade school teacher told you to practice your class presentation at home, she was actually prepping you for the real world. No one can deliver a great speech, present a case, or win a tough negotiation without practice. Have a friend listen to your case and try everything to challenge it. This way, you can prepare yourself to answer the toughest questions with confidence.
Ask for support from your coworkers.
One of the most powerful ways to show your boss that you deserve a raise is to enlist the endorsement of others in your workplace. Have them talk to your boss and tell them how much your work has contributed to the company. The more your boss hears about your incredible work ethic from others, the more she will be likely to see you as an invaluable asset to the company.
Start the meeting on a positive note.
So the big day has arrived! You're sitting across from your boss, who's waiting for you to say something. You're anxiously wondering what you should do to start the meeting on the right foot. It's simple: start it on a positive note! Talk about how much you love working for the company, and how you want to see yourself grow within their walls. Before starting your pay raise pitch, be sure to show your loyalty to the company and make your boss understand that you want to be there for the long haul.
Be sure to listen to what your boss has to say.
When you're nervous, you might talk a lot. That's okay, but it might not work in your favor while asking for a pay raise. Try not to talk a mile a minute without letting your boss get a word in edgewise. Once you've made your main point, pause and listen to what your boss has to say, and then start the negotiation process from there.
Don't be aggressive. Don't make any threats. Don't bring up other job offers, interviews, or conversations with a recruiter. Don't object if your boss says that he needs a few days to think about it. Most of all, be professional and don't let your emotions get the best of you. Being polite, patient, and understanding can take you very far; if your boss can't give you a bigger paycheck now, he would probably appreciate your professional demeanor so much that he'd raise your pay the next chance he could.
If you come in prepared and confident, you'll do just fine!