How to Ask for a Raise:

How to Ask for a Raise

Before We Tell You How to Ask for a Raise…

…let’s talk about when to ask for a raise. When I first entered the workforce it was typical for companies to offer annual increases. While many companies still support this practice, there are also many companies that have abandoned this methodology and only offer a salary increase under certain circumstances.  As you think about how to ask for a raise, you may want to consider the following to better prepare for your discussion.

Preparing To Ask For A Raise Starts Long Before You Feel You Deserve One

When you are hired, ask your supervisor what the criteria are for advancement. You should also ask her what she believes you need to do to earn a pay increase. During this discussion, make sure you are clear regarding the targets you are expected to achieve as well as what you will be held accountable for in your day-to-day responsibilities. 

You should also understand that increases in compensation are not usually based solely on your performance. Therefore, you should also seek clarity regarding the outside dynamics that may impact a decision to award raises or merit increases. For example, if your project doesn’t meet a major milestone, will this affect your chances for a raise? And what about the overall profitability of the company (or project or division)? Most companies will factor in profitability when considering what type of raises or merit increases to award…and the reality is that if a company isn’t profitable, it is less likely their employees will be receiving raises. 

Having this type of expectation discussion at the beginning of your engagement will help you understand how to progress professionally and monetarily. However, if you were unable to have this very important expectation discussion, here are some other things to consider. 

You Haven’t Received A Raise In A While

Do not take it personally if you have been with a company for over a year and haven’t received an increase. As you consider how to ask for a raise, it is important to note that companies will vary when it comes to their policy for giving increases; therefore, it is a good idea to understand your company’s model before asking your supervisor for additional compensation.  

For example, many companies are now more focused on providing merit increases rather than a typical pay raise. The difference between a typical pay raise and a merit increase is that a merit increase is given as a result of excellent work. In this scenario, raises will largely be given only to those who exceed their targets or whose performance is above average. 

This also means that those who performed as expected or below expectations may not receive an increase at all. 

Know The Market Value Of Your Job

If you feel you are underpaid, do some research to determine what the current market rate is for your position. You can do this by benchmarking job postings of positions similar to your current role. Ideally, you should research postings from your current employer, but you definitely want to research your current company’s competitors too. 

We have written an article where we provide step-by-step instructions on how to benchmark the compensation range for your job. It is critically important you do this homework before asking for an increase in salary or compensation.  

Have You Taken On More Responsibility? 

If the scope of your original position has changed, and that change has resulted in you accepting more responsibilities, it is definitely fair to ask for a bump in salary. So how do you ask for a raise in this scenario? The key is to show evidence of your additional effort (and results) in order to properly support your request.   

Here is how: 

With your original job description in hand, make a list of all the extra tasks or projects you have accepted that are outside of your original role. Then quickly document the extra time and effort that performing these tasks has taken. 

Next, you will want to outline your achievements within the new role. This can be as simple as documenting what extra value you have added to the company or team. It can also be described in the context of how you have helped the team or company achieve their goals. For example, you can outline how your extra effort has helped the team obtain milestones, saved the company money, or even helped the company increase its efficiency or revenue.  

When You Speak to Your Manager

Asking for a raise is not as easy as running into your manager at the water cooler and mentioning that you would like to be paid more for the work you do.  Choosing the right time and being prepared can make all the difference when asking your boss for a pay raise.

Timing Is Key

You don’t have to wait until your evaluation to discuss a pay increase. Merit increases are given throughout the year so don’t feel that waiting for your annual review will be your best opportunity to win a raise. For example, a perfect time to ask for a raise is right after you have successfully completed a big project. 

Also, from a timing perspective, consider asking for a raise a few months after you have decided to take on more responsibilities. This one is tricky because you don’t want to ask for an increase when initially accepting the additional tasks. You want to first prove you will be successful with the new duties! Tackle the new role with enthusiasm and passion while holding yourself accountable to successful results. Approaching the new responsibilities with this attitude will surely yield excellent results and accomplishments. 

And when it comes to answering the question of how to ask for a raise, being able to document those tangible accomplishments will provide an excellent argument for your cause. 

I would also recommend you consider how busy you are. Asking for a raise after taking on new responsibilities or leading a large project to completion is much more justified than if you have had a lot of free time around the office. 

A note of warning: many employees take a flawed approach and only consider their personal contributions to the company. You should also consider the performance of the company. Has the company just successfully launched a new product and is therefore seeing an increase in revenue? Alternatively, has the company lost its flagship product and therefore seen a decrease in revenue? Have there been more team members hired? Or instead, have there been layoffs? Are you aware of any budget cuts recently? 

The company’s current performance will be an indicator that the company is…or is not…able or willing to give you a raise.

Have A Number In Mind

Don’t make your supervisor guess at the amount of increase you are looking for. Before the meeting, factor in competitors’ salaries and your own experience and attributes to arrive at a specific amount you think you should be paid. 

As a side note, it is okay to ask for a certain increase but voice that you would be ‘willing to accept’ something different…but only if you can explain your conditions. And let me be clear, those parameters must include something you are willing to commit to.  For example, you may state something like:

“Based on current market rates, individuals in my role are making $12,500 more per year in base compensation. However, I realize I am new to this role, so I would be open to accepting an $8,500 increase if you will consider additional compensation as I continue to be successful in this position.”

Being knowledgeable and forthcoming will show you are confident and that you believe you deserve this raise.

Don’t Spring This On Your Manager

Take the professional route and set up a meeting. This not only shows professional courtesy but will give the manager notice of your intention as well as allow you a few days to prepare yourself.

You will also want to consider what approach to use with your boss. Is he the kind of person who will be impressed by an aggressive sales presentation highlighting your outstanding attributes and contributions? Or would he be most affected by a relaxed data-driven presentation that shows your accomplishments as well as how you compare to others in the same role?

Regardless of your supervisor’s personality, don’t apologize for asking for a raise. But don’t be arrogant or threatening either. Lay out the research you have done as well as your clear request. 

If your manager rejects your request for a raise, ask what areas of your work performance you would need to improve in order to obtain a raise in the future. Even if the increase isn’t awarded this time, your manager will be impressed. 

It can be intimidating to ask for a raise, but the steps regarding how to ask for a raise are clear. Be prepared in the how, and then push through the feelings of intimidation. Do not let the process shake you from going after what you want and deserve. Being prepared and planning ahead can put you in a great position to ask for and receive the raise you have earned.