How to Ask for a Raise

Are you hoping to get a raise in 2019? Whether you’re seeking to earn more in your current position or you’re looking for a new job that can bump up your salary, this is a good time to start preparing for your next negotiation conversation. 

Let’s face it: Asking for more can be nerve-wracking — even if you feel you deserve it. In my own career working for two non-profits and a church-based small business, I got the impression I was paid all the organization could offer. I felt that any dollar I asked for would detract from the real mission.

But I’ve come to realize that’s not true. All of the organizations I worked for could have afforded to pay me more (or, frankly, just pay me equitably), but I was too afraid to ask. The work I was doing expanded each organization’s mission, brought in more revenue, and deserved fair compensation. I wasn’t detracting from the mission; I was adding to it. A raise would only have increased my commitment to the organization and helped me expand that mission even more.

Instead of waiting for your company to offer you more, if you’re ready to ask for a raise or negotiate your salary, these tips can help you put your best foot forward:

1.     Know Your “Why”: Before you begin this process, it’s important to name what’s motivating you. Is it because you aren’t being paid equitably? Have you been going above and beyond the call of duty? Write out your reasons so you can review them before you talk with your supervisor. Needing more money to fund your lifestyle won’t make your case with your boss. Focus on the value you are bringing to your employer.

Tip: For women especially, advocating for just themselves can be difficult. Consider that you are doing this “for your current — or future — family.” One way I’ve encouraged myself to have conversations like this is to remember that by advocating for myself, my salary, and my benefits, I’m also advocating for future people who come into this role. I may not need the extra salary, but am I setting a bad precedent for the organization in the future by taking unfair compensation and benefits? Asking for a raise can actually be an act of social justice.

2.     Build Your Case: Jumping off your “why” statement, outline the value you’ve brought to your employer. You’ll want to provide stories of impact and specific metrics wherever possible. If you had a positive year-end review this year or last year, use that as a jumping-off point. Having trouble listing your strengths? Ask a trusted colleague or mentor to help you frame the assets you bring to your team.

Tip: Focus on your audience. What’s most impactful to you might not be what’s most impactful to your manager. Make sure you tailor your stories and metrics to what your manager (and even your manager’s manager) might find most valuable.

3.     Do Your Research: Figure out how much you are worth. I think everyone should take this step, whether they feel like they might be underpaid or not. Start with a quick Google search. There are countless resources out there to help you figure out how much you should be paid given your career and experience level.

Tip: Use glassdoor to see what the average base pay is for your role and how salaries change by location and company. Have a more specialized role? Start with the titles of others who are in your field (or a similar one). Take your research to the next level using this guide from She Negotiates.

4.     Find a Partner: Online research is great, but it can only take you so far. Talk to colleagues who understand how raises, bonuses, and promotions work at your company. If you can, get a sense from people inside your company (or others in a similar position at a different company) are being paid and what you should expect.

Tip: This is where a mentor can be crucial. They can help you to better understand your company and/or industry, structure your ask, and even role-play the conversation with you. Need help finding a mentor? Check out the tips in this Forbes article.

5.     Create a “Plan A” and a “Plan B”: Start by outlining your “Plan A” — ideally, what would you leave this meeting with: A 10% raise? A promotion? But don’t forget to also outline a “Plan B” and even “Plan C,” in case your initial proposal is rejected. If your employer isn’t able to offer you a raise, what else can you ask for: A bonus? Funds for continuing education? More vacation time? More flexible hours? An additional contribution to your 401(k)?

Tip: Don’t discount the power of benefits. Look through your employee manual to see if there are benefits you didn’t know you (or others in your company) have access to. You may be able to move up to the next level of vacation time … negotiate working from home one day a week … devise your own commission structure … or even get your employer to pay for part or all of tuition to go back to school or gain additional credentials.

6.     Make Your Ask: You’ve made your list of strengths, done your research, talked it over with a trusted friend or mentor — now it’s time to make your ask. Schedule a time when your boss will be able to be most attentive to you. Take time before you go in to review your list of strengths, brush up on your research, and return to your “why.” When you get there, explain in detail why you deserve it and make your ask. Don’t second-guess yourself: You’re worth it!

Tip: One of the keys to negotiation is that you can’t start where you want to end up. If you want to get to “Plan A,” you need to start higher and work your way down. If you find that “Plan A” is off the table, don’t hesitate to move right into your Plan B alternatives.

Got your raise (or a bump in benefits)? Celebrate! But before you run off to spend that cash, take a step back to see how you can put this money toward your larger goals.

Didn’t get your raise? That’s ok. It’s important that you asked. Don’t forget to celebrate that brave moment! It’s also time to consider: What does this “no” from my boss mean? Ask your boss for feedback. How can I work toward this goal? What would you expect of me to get to this next level in my career? Set goals and regular check-ins to track your progress. If the answer is still “no,” this might be a good time to survey your options outside of your current employer. Either way, you received some great information to help you take a positive next step in your career. 

Have you ever asked for a raise or a bump in benefits? Share your experience below!

P.S. - Need a little help determining how much you’re worth? Check out this week’s FB Live on Thursday at 8pm Central on my Facebook page.

P.P.S.- Still thinking about my date night club? It’s time to take the plunge for just $5/month! Find out more in last week’s FB live. Check out the recording on my Facebook page or YouTube!