Getting a raise is easier said than done…
It is difficult for most people to ask for more money. We don’t want to damage relationships, and always fear the worst possible outcome.
However, asking for a raise is often times absolutely necessary, and well worth the risk. Getting a raise is one of the quickest ways to make more money, as well as one of the most impactful ways to build wealth long-term (a raise now makes all of your future earnings even higher, and adds up to big numbers over a career). If you have the opportunity, you must do so.
You don’t earn what you’re worth; you earn what you negotiate. – one of my favorite personal mentors
To help you do exactly that, I asked the experts what you need to do in order to get a raise at work. Here are 7 steps, as well as 10 tips for getting a raise and more.
First of all, you have to know if you should get paid more. What you really need to do, per Jae Lynn Rangel, is a little homework.
“The 2 most important things one needs to know before asking for a raise are:
1. The value of your job – both internal and external. Internal value is determined by the company’s salary band or pay rate/range for the job. External value is the job’s market rate.
There are lots of resources available on the web to help you find the value of a job including salary.com, payscale.com, glassdoor.com, the U.S. Department of Labor Statics, even trade organizations. Use multiple sources and try to find pay rates specific to your industry and city or state. Also, don’t value your job on title alone. Every organization titles and levels its jobs differently. Look at the knowledge, skills and experience required in the job to find the right market match.
2. Your value to the company – Do you have a unique skill or are you in a critical position, which impacts the success of a big project, client or the company? If so, you’ll have more leverage when asking for a pay increase. Companies hate to lose employees who have specialized knowledge or high demand or scarce skills because of the difficulty and cost of replacement. As a result, companies are generally more willing to negotiate pay in order to retain this knowledge or skill.” – Jae Lynn Rangel
“The first step in negotiating a raise is understanding what’s reasonable. Employers gauge salaries for different positions and levels according to key benchmarks. When deciding what raise you’ll request, know the average pay:
- At other companies…
- For professionals with your level of experience and education…
- In your region for professionals in your field.” – Sherry Dixon
You can do as Samantha Lambert says, and “invest in a paid salary report so you know exactly how much you should be earning.”
Laura Lee Rose also shared a few things to consider:
“A) If you are already making near the top of the salary range for that position, consider going after a promotion or a different role that commands a higher salary.
B) Talk to an external recruiter to review the relevancy of your current skill set. If you find that your current skill sets are outdated and will soon become obsolete, it’s time to up-level your toolbox.
C) Understand how management perceives your performance. If you have been receiving average ratings, it’s difficult to get a raise. Your goal should be to receive Outstanding or Exceptional performance ratings.” – Laura Lee Rose
But don’t get too far ahead of yourself in asking for a raise… Before you do anything, ask yourself the following question:
Do I believe I deserve a raise strongly enough that I can create a case that should convince my boss? – Barry Maher
As Barry says, “if you can’t convince yourself, you’ll never convince your boss.”
Step 2, is that you need to be doing well at your job. You should have momentum going into the big question.
“Prior to asking for a raise you need to build up your authority. Don’t make the mistake of telling the employer how great you are, the profit you have earned and your skill base. Rather allow others to do this for you. Give advice and support to colleagues, work late, offer to take on new projects and answer questions in meetings. The idea is to become an expert that others rely on and at some point your reputation will grow and mangers will be informed.” – Chris Delaney
Show your worth; don’t just talk about it. While years of experience is a factor in salary negotiations, demonstrating what you have brought to your work validates why you deserve the salary you’re asking for. For example, have you contributed to expanding an area of the company or implemented a system that has doubled productivity? Has your work helped retain a long-term client? If there’s anything you can quantify, use that to build your case for the figure you’re asking. – Sherry Dixon
“Be an all-star…now. Take on more projects, reach out to new connections and take on more meetings. Why? This quiet summer time will help you establish your place in the raise peeking order. Chances are you won’t be the only coworker to ask for a raise come November. Showcasing that you used this traditionally slow time to ramp up business will put you way ahead of the competition.” – Jill Jacinto
The earnings are made before they arrive, not after. So, be an all-star now, and then…
This is the most important step of all. Negotiations are won and lost based on your preparation.
Asking for a raise can be tricky and it is important to be prepared before making that step. Know exactly what it is that you are asking for and why you are asking for it. – Deanna Arnold
“My favorite strategies for getting that raise, even in these times are:
- Be ready with a list of your accomplishments – all the reasons why you’ve earned a pay raise. (Not why you NEED a pay raise.) If you can assign a dollar value, how much the accomplishments on that list have earned or saved the company, so much the better.
- What’s the benefit to the company in giving you a raise? You’d better know. And almost as important, you should able to show a benefit to your boss, the one who probably recommends (or doesn’t recommend) the raises. How is giving you more money going to advance the interests of the company and the interests of your boss?” – Barry Maher
Carl Reid says, “Analyze 》 Plan 》Document your way to a raise.”
Identify which projects you exceeded expectations. Be honest with this self-assessment. This will give your presentation more confidence in explaining tangible achievements that directly contribute to the department, team and company success.
Ask for testimonials from co-workers, other executives and clients. Listen for the words, “I don’t know how to thank you for your help…” Then ask for a reference. Ask clients to send a “happy” letter about service to the CEO / President and copy you on it.
Use a tool like Evernote to keep a weekly journal. Track accomplishments, contributions, solutions, results, and extra work beyond your standard job responsibilities. This makes it is easy to remember and copy /paste when it’s time to write your email request to make a case for a raise.” – Carl Reid
“Think through all of the reasons that you might hear no and think through possible statements in support of yourself.” – Kathi Elster
Now, you are prepared… almost.
It all sounds good in your head, but it is WELL worth it to practice. Once you verbalize things, and get questions asked of you, I guarantee that you’ll change your plan slightly, or at least the wording you use. Practicing is a secret to getting a raise.
“Prepare for this meeting by practicing with a friend/coach or mentor so that you are prepared to say what you want to say.” – Kathi Elster
Before walking in try and do a roll rehearsal and imagine negative comments and try to come up with ammunition that you can use. Keep that in your notebook. – Sarah Weinberger
“The problem with asking for money of any type, raise, promotion, price of a product or otherwise, has to do with confidence and confidence has to do with practice. The ‘right words’ come from being familiar with the situation, being able to frame the present (emotional state of boss, is it quiet, relaxed or chaotic, etc) rather than having a boxed set of replies.
As a psychologist and professor who teaches entrepreneurs and career professionals in a classroom setting, especially women, one of the techniques I use to enable them to have the courage to ask is to ‘practice’ in real life situations. How does one practice asking for a raise or negotiating a salary? One can acquire this skill by going to Farmer’s Markets, Flea Markets, Yard Sales even Department Stores (ask for the clerks discount) and dicker the price of objects for purchase.
This gives my students and clients experience and confidence, learning how to evaluate the environment, in asking, getting turned down and going on to the next dealer without feeling discouraged, gaining confidence, learning ‘how to’ techniques, recognize who is amenable and what to ask for, neutralizing the situation and ones feelings by constantly reminding each person to think “NEXT” after being turned down! My students and clients report an uptick in confidence, courage and being able to estimate the asking environment for just the right moment and hence, to secure the funds requested.” – Dr. Daria M. Brezinski, PhD
Now, it is time to set the meeting.
There are some common times that you should plan to ask for a raise:
The best time to ask for a raise is mid-year; or, if your company’s fiscal year is other than a regular calendar year, mid-fiscal year. – Jae Lynn Rangel
“Discussions about raises most often coincide with performance evaluations.” – Chaz Pitts-Kyser
Plus, you’ll want to time it well with your boss or the deciding opinions…
“Timing is critical, and you should also access your boss’s mood as well.” – Sarah Weinberger
The 2nd most important step in the process is, of course, the ask.
To do the best job possible at this, you need to act with poise, power, a plan… and confidence.
- “Sit up tall with your shoulders back – research shows that people respect those who carry themselves with good posture, and that they are more influential!
- Write down a list of reasons why you’re worth the salary you want, and confidently explain these reasons in the interview.
- Create a physical anchor for yourself that signals confidence: touch your index finger and forefinger, put your hands on your lap, squeeze your inner thighs together, any subtle physical cue you can use to remind yourself to feel and speak confidently.” – Stephanie Mansour
Take documentation of your performance to substantiate what you are asking for and approach it as more of a conversation rather than a “this is what I want” type of situation. – Deanna Arnold
“The easier and most confident way to get a raise is to understand your value and contribution to the company’s bottom line. Company’s are in the business to make money. If you can clearly illustrate and quantify your performance in regards to increasing revenue, reducing costs, decrease product time to market, and increase clients – then you will be in a better position to ask for a raise. If you are making money for the company, it’s difficult for the manager to say that they don’t have the funds to pay you.” – Laura Lee Rose
“Have a salary number/structure in mind, add 5-10%, and ASK FOR IT!” – Samantha Lambert
Talk about why you deserve the raise, not why you need it. Your rationale for your raise should be based on the hard work you have put in with the company and the excellence you have shown in your position. There should be no mention of the cost of living, your bills, or any other financial obligation during the discussion. – Chaz Pitts-Kyser
“Have an open discussion with your supervisor about your performance, the duties in your role and what you are prepared to additionally contribute with the increase in pay. Another option is to ask for a raise over time rather than a lump sum up front. Propose a portion of the raise now and then negotiate the remainder after a review in 6 months, 12 months, etc.
Keep anything personal out of it. It really isn’t their concern what your personal financial situation might be and you need to treat it as a business transaction. Compensation structures are based on the position, duties, requirements, etc., and your overall performance, not the persons personal situation that is in the role.” – Deanna Arnold
“Use a fact-based approach to present your case. State your current pay facts: “As you know, I’ve been in the job for _X_ time and my current salary is _Y_. The salary range for my [band, level, grade, job] is _____ to ______.”
State your request and supporting facts. Then be silent and wait for your boss to respond. Silence is a good negotiating tool. You may feel nervous, but “chatter” during a negotiation undermines your bargaining position. It also makes you appear less confident.
[Here’s an] example: “I’ve taken on x, y, z additional responsibilities, have been given more complex work/assignments, led two crucial projects, and generated the following results [list key results]. The market value for [state your job] with these [additional responsibilities, expanded work, positive result] is $X. Based on these facts, I believe an increase of $X is competitive.” – Jae Lynn Rangel
I believe you want to have a figure in mind and know what you’re worth, but a key lesson in negotiation is this: never go first. You will want to do everything in your power to have the employer start with a number first. From there, you can work your way up to what meets/exceeds your expectations.
Regardless of what happens, it is just as important how you handle things afterwards as you handle them before and during the negotiation.
“The worst thing that can happen is you are told, ‘no’. Then it’s time to decide if your job search will begin or if you can ultimately be happy staying without the raise or without receiving as much as you asked for.” – Samantha Lambert
“Don’t take a “no” personally. Employers have many reasons for denying raises and often they just boil down to money, not from a desire to not give you the salary increase you receive. If the reason is your raise does not fit in the budget, don’t pout or threaten to leave, as this will weaken your relationship with your manager and probably won’t increase your chances of getting a raise later. Also, if you are denied a raise but told you do deserve one, consider other ways you can be rewarded and ask for them—like a more flexible schedule or extra days off.” – Chaz Pitts-Kyser
Remember, the first offer is just that: a first offer. Come back with a polite counter offer: ‘I was really thinking in terms of X dollars, boss.’ Then you can settle on something between the two. – Barry Maher
“If the boss says no, then that is a fact of life. Ask what it would take to get a raise. Say thank you. You then have a choice to quietly look for a new gig or stay where you are. Changing jobs too frequently looks bad, so timing on everything is critical.” – Sarah Weinberger
“Of course, business being business, you’re not always going to get the raise you want. When that happens, politely and respectfully ask your boss if you can sit down together and determine what specifically you need to do in order to earn the raise in the future. Try to work out deliverables that are as specific as possible and try to pin down a time frame. Take notes, let your boss see that you’re taking notes, and if possible work up something in writing you can both agree to. Ask for his or her help in achieving those deliverables. Then report your progress regularly. Once you’ve met those specific goals, it will be very difficult for your boss not to grant your raise or at the very least fight for it.” – Barry Maher
“If your boss is not willing to revisit your pay in the future, you may want to consider other options. Find out if there are opportunities in other areas of the company that will offer you the compensation you desire. Looking at opportunities at other companies also may be a viable option.” – Jae Lynn Rangel
Jae Lynn Rangel shared her top ten tips for asking for a raise.
- “Psych yourself up before you meet with your boss. Try a power pose; it really does make you more confident.
- Emphasize what differentiates you from others in the job. Highlight the additional value you bring to the role and the company.
- Ask for a specific increase amount (such as 5% or $2,000 for example). You may end up with less than you ask for, but your odds of getting an increase are greater when you negotiate from a specific amount.
- Don’t compare yourself to your colleagues. It’s a trap – it puts you on the defensive and makes you look unprofessional.
- Don’t threaten to quit or do something negative unless you’re willing to actually do it. Also, don’t lie about other offers. It’s appropriate to say you’ve received headhunter calls, if true.
- Avoid asking direct questions. You don’t want to make it easy for your boss to say no.
- How well you know your boss can make or break your negotiation. Don’t alienate him/her by pushing too hard, but don’t sell yourself short. Pay attention to your boss’s verbal and non-verbal cues.
- The best time to ask for a raise is mid-year; or, if your company’s fiscal year is other than a regular calendar year, mid-fiscal year.
- Meet with your boss mid-week rather than on a Monday or Friday.
- In many cases, no budget is an excuse, not the real reason for declining a request for a raise. Ask your boss follow-up questions to find out the real reason.” – Jae Lynn Rangel
“Don’t even dream about asking for a raise verbally. This makes “No” come faster than “Yes”. A verbal raise request holds less importance than a written one with specific accomplishments to create a value proposition that justifies a raise.” – Carl Reid
“Don’t use ‘our company doesn’t give performance reviews’ [as an excuse]. ASK. It’s much less embarrassing to ask for a performance review than to ask for a raise and find out that they consider you an average or below-average performer. It is your responsibility to understand where you stand at all times.” – Laura Lee Rose
“Leave your rent out of it. Do not, I repeat do not(!), bring up a personal issue as to why you need a raise. Your boss doesn’t and shouldn’t care that your kid needs braces, your rent increased or you have 10 weddings this year. Their main priority is the business and how your work is reflective of that.” – Jill Jacinto
“Send a short note to your boss at the end of each week, just keeping him or her apprised of everything you did during that week. Come evaluation time the boss may well use those notes to help write the evaluation. And at the very least you’ll have all that ammunition when it’s time to discuss raises.” – Barry Maher
“Remember that compensation goes further than a dollar amount. If your net pay can’t increase, perhaps the dollar value of health benefit packages can, or there are non-cash perks – such as monthly transportation vouchers or returns on certain memberships – that can bridge gaps in salary negotiations.” – Sherry Dixon
“Be prepared to hear that your boss may have to talk to her/his boss before a raise can happen.” – Kathi Elster
“I have seen this work so many times when getting a raise… The best way to get a raise is to interview with another company. Unless you are hated at your present job, what will typically happen is that you can name drop that this other company is looking at you to your boss and he will most likely step in and offer a raise to keep you. How you broadcast the news is important. DO NOT do it with your resignation. This is the wrong time and the battle lines are already drawn if one tries to do it in an exit interview. But rather what works best is if the boss heard it from you in passing. This makes them feel like they got the scoop and that you are special if other companies want you. This will make your boss competitive and that is exactly where you want them. Because it will make them fight for you.” – James Pillow
“Lastly, write down your experience afterwards to learn for the next time.” – Sarah Weinberger
- Carl Reid – Chief Savvy Intrapreneur, Savvy Intrapreneur
- Jill Jacinto – Millennial Career Expert, WORKS
- Sherry Dixon – Senior Vice President, Adecco Staffing U.S.
- Dr. Daria M. Brezinski, PhD – CEO, What Wize Women Want
- Sarah Weinberger – Founder and CEO, Butterflyvista Corporation
- Stephanie Mansour – Health & Wellness Expert / Life Coach, Step It Up with Steph
- Laura Lee Rose, CTACC – Founder and owner of Rose Coaching.
- Barry Maher – Author and Speaker, Barry Maher & Associates
- Kathi Elster – President, K Squared Enterprises
- Jae Lynn Rangel – Co-Founder, Ask Ajna
- Samantha Lambert – Director of HR
- Chris Delaney – Author and Career Coach, Employment King
- Chaz Pitts-Kyser – Author, Careeranista: The Woman’s Guide to Success After College
- James Pillow – Vice President, Fancastle
- Deanna Arnold – Founder and Confidant, The People’s HR