In your professional working career, one obstacle you may face is asking for a raise. And I say “obstacle” because many are uncomfortable, anxious, or are a bit afraid to ask for more money. Sure, you’ll probably get some recurring annual increase of 1-3% at your job, but let’s be honest about that. That small salary increase is not going to improve your financial life dramatically. Instead, it basically helps you keep up with rising costs of bills or other expenses. And you probably deserve a lot more too based on your hard work.

There is Some Good News

According to some recent research, “signs indicate a bigger jump in wages and salaries for 2019 will outpace employers’ earlier expectations.” However, asking for a raise or requesting an increase that is larger than the annual average, tends to be overwhelming for majority of people. But instead of carrying the frustration of your typical low annual raise (or maybe lack of raise), you need to present your case and ask for the raise you deserve. Below are a few tips to help prepare you to ask for a raise and what to do if you aren’t getting what you want (or if you aren’t getting any raise at all).

What You Need to Do First Before Asking For A Raise

Before you go asking for a raise, you need to come prepared with support as to why you deserve this money. There are plenty of bosses (I dislike the word “boss” so I won’t use it in the rest of the article) who are certainly willing to give you more if you simply ask, as they probably will recognize your value if you are working hard. However, you should always be prepared to prove your value either way. This is especially important if you work at a larger company where managers may have a lot of people on their team, and can’t always know every detail of your great work. But here’s what you need to do first before scheduling time with management.
  • Gather evidence of your work accomplishments. Everything from small items, to the significant wins you bring your department and/or the impact on the company.
  • Research your job industry, market value, and average salaries on the low and high end. I like to search places like Glassdoor or Payscale to get more research and see where salary trajectories are currently and where they are predicted to go.
  • Look into how much it would cost to replace you. Finding candidates, hiring, training gets quite expensive. And don’t just throw this at your manager as the main reason for a raise, it is not a good approach. More about employee retention costs here.
  • Be prepared to ask for a raise that is not a ridiculous amount. There are times where you may want to ask for 20%+ if you are severely underpaid and overworked, but don’t expect to ask for these constantly.
Asking for a Raise

Asking for A Raise: How to Approach Management

Once you have your research, some calculations, and evidence complete — it’s time to ask for the raise you deserve. You might feel nervous and a bit anxious, but remember: you are prepared, you work hard, and most likely your manager is willing to give you a raise if you would just ask. Here are some tips to give you a better chance of a successful conversation around getting a raise.

Practice, practice, practice

Asking for a raise or working on salary negotiations can be nerve wrecking. I felt that way for years and was always a bit intimidated. It took me a while to break these feelings and to this day, I still get a little nervous. But I’m a lot more confident today from practicing. The best thing to do is practice your questions and your reasons for a raise. That can be going over your topics in the mirror a few times, with a close friend, or a family member. They can provide feedback on something you might be missing or help coach how you are speaking. And ensure anyone that helps will ask you tough questions or that you prepare some tough questions yourself, so you don’t get thrown off if your manager does start to grill you.

Figure out your managers preferences

If you want to successfully ask for a raise, you need to respect how your manager likes to be presented to. What does this mean? Simply learn if your manager likes detailed information, short but to the point highlights, or maybe more visual details. Also, find out if he or she likes the info via email or in-person first too. You do not need to share a fifteen page report or a some thirty slide presentation, but you should know how your manager likes to digest any information. Everyone has a different style or preference, but you probably already know their preferred method just from working with him/her. Either way, make it a priority to figure this out first if you aren’t sure currently.

Find the best time to connect and schedule a meeting

Whether you realize it or not, your timing can make a HUGE difference in getting the raise you want. Maybe it’s the wrong time of the year, end of a busy quarter, before a long holiday, or just the wrong time of the week. Asking on a Monday at all or Tuesday afternoon is probably not the best time. Beginning of the weeks are generally the busiest and coming back from a weekend can alter your managers mood. Instead, your best bet during the week will be a Friday mid-morning or early afternoon before the “weekend check-out” happens. Here are a few scenarios to consider when preparing to ask for a raise:
  • After a big work accomplishment of yours as this is fresh in your managers mind when you discuss raises and your salary.
  • During your performance review (just note many managers may already have made a decision on a raise prior, which may make it a little more challenging to get the raise you want. This is not always the case, but keep this in mind).
  • At the end of a strong quarter or year. If your company is crushing it and your work and department are doing well, this could also be an opportunity to present your case for a raise.

Keep it positive right from the start

No matter if you are really frustrated or you have a somewhat difficult manager, keep the positivity flowing. If you are asking for a raise, you probably do like your work or the company, so you need to show that to the person who signs off on giving you a raise. Remove anything negative about your frustrations or any personal finance issues you may be having. Show your appreciation for your work, your excitement for the company, etc. You can start to paint the picture of you and your work too. “I really enjoy how my role and responsibilities have expanded,” or “My work has gotten more challenging, but it’s also been helping me grow professionally.” Phrases like this create the right tone, but always leave an impression of your value in the conversation.

Present your case and be specific

After starting the chat on your excitement, growth, and enthusiasm to continue your professional career with the company, present your case. All your evidence collecting of your recent work highlights and research will show your value and how prepared you are. Give concrete examples and how it may have greatly helped company save X or increase Y by Z%. Be sure to avoid threats of leaving if you don’t get a raise, how it’s unfair, or say you have other offers paying “XYZ”. That breaks all the positivity and ensures your manager checks out of the conversation from going in the right direction.

Let your manager speak and listen

Although it’s mostly about you discussing and presenting, your manager will also have things to say or ask. Be sure to not talk over them or get defensive if they ask something that throws you off. Listen, see where their mindset is, and understand where they are coming from. Being a great listener can help guide your answers and approach as the meeting continues. Generally, your manager will and should want to help you make more and grow professionally. Not always the case, but treat them as someone who is on your side.

Be patient, you might not get a “yes” right away

Most likely, your manager cannot give you a “yes” in your first meeting. They may need to think about it, get approval from higher-ups, or figure out the best number for you (because you may ask for 10%, but they may negotiate to 8%. Still a win!). At the end of your meeting, ask to schedule a follow-up on the calendar in a few days or the following week. This gets it on the calendar right away and ensure it doesn’t slip to like 3 weeks later. If they prefer to not schedule on the calendar at the end of the meeting, stay on top of this. Send a follow-up a few days later with a quick recap and present a calendar invite for that second meeting.

What To Do If You Don’t Get The Raise You Asked For

Even after all the above, there still is a chance you may get a no or less than you hoped for. It’s important to keep your reactions and emotions in-check when you are told in your first meeting or in a follow-up meeting. Likely, there are a few different reasons for the no and it’s important you ask for reasons and listen to what your manager might have to say, whether it’s complete B.S or not.
  • You might get a no because of your performance. Although you may work hard, there may be things your manager is looking for you need to improve on first. This is your opportunity to learn and ask what you can do to improve. They’ll like the initiative and interest, which shows you can take criticism and are willing to work. At this point, ensure you ask if you can revisit in a few months, a good manager will be happy to oblige.
  • You may also get a no because of tight financial situations from company leadership. Your company may be tightening their finances or preparing for future finances that restrict giving more money out. Doesn’t mean your company is in financial trouble, but it may keep your raise dead in the water for a while. However, you can ask for other items like extra time off, one-time bonus, etc. Get creative if you do really like your job and work.
  • Your manager is a difficult person. Unfortunately there are managers who literally do not care about your performance, value, or what you do for the company. If they feel they can entrap you because of the job market or just don’t want to pay you more, it might be time to move on. If you need the job, be polite (even though you may secretly want to flip them off) and get to work on that resume!