How to Ask for a Raise

Getting a raise isn’t just about being lucky, being best friends with your boss, or even being the best employee. Getting the raise you feel you deserve means being prepared with accurate information about yourself and your role in the current market, being confident and professional in your approach to negotiations, and being ready with a back-up plan if the first time you ask doesn’t go the way you would like.

Do the Research

How do you know what you are really worth to your organization? Many people under or overestimate their value based solely on self-confidence or past feedback. Take the time to do an analysis of the current market. Many websites will help you evaluate the salary range for your job role, even honing in on salaries specific to your locality and education level. Many national professional councils will also do salary surveys of their members to help establish fair market value in the profession. Talking to friends or colleagues in similar positions may not hurt, but it’s not the hard data you’ll really need. Collect as much information as you can and compare your current salary to the market. Understand where you fall in the salary range before making your case.

Get Ready to Sell Yourself

Other than the role you’re in, what makes you unique and valuable to your organization. Have you gone above and beyond the expectations of your job? Where have you taken on a leadership role or collaborated on a key initiative? Be as specific as possible in citing projects, teams, completions, and progress where you have had a pivotal role. If you can describe times when you have saved the company money, improved efficiency, or turned a challenge into an opportunity, you are giving the company a reason why you truly deserve a raise. Align your work as closely as possible with the vision and values of your company. If money is the only bottom line, make sure you’re highlighting the financial impact you have had. If customer service is paramount, bring a glowing reference from a top client.

Set the Date

Asking for a raise isn’t casual for you, make sure to set a formal meeting time with your boss. Go in the day of your meeting with your research and personal contributions prepared. Dress to make yourself feel confident and reinforce what you are telling your boss: that you are a strong and valuable employee. Present your case logically, and avoid getting pulled into emotional traps. You’re not going to prove your point by arguing or complaining that all of your colleagues make more than you do. Be organized, polished, and honest in your approach. State why you are there, what you have brought to the table, and how your boss can work with you on this issue.

Be Aware of Challenges

Your market research should include an assessment of your overall profession as well as your specific organization. If things have tightened up everywhere, and no one has gotten a raise this year, your timing may be off. If your boss would like to help you out, but his or her hands are tied because human resources determines salary ranges, make sure you know who you are negotiating with. If a monetary raise really isn’t an option at this time, consider what other perks could be valuable: telecommuting, flexible hours, paid vacation time, even better parking? The research and preparation you have done don’t need to go to waste. If the timing is wrong, stick to your convictions and be ready to present your case again in 6 months to a year.