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27 Jul 2020 Austin Belcak

How to Ask for a Raise (And Tips For Preparation)

You want to ask for a raise. But talking about money is hard. And going directly up to your boss to ask for more of it… well, that can just be downright nerve-wracking!

But do you know why that is? It’s actually pretty simple. You haven’t prepared how you’re going to ask for that raise! So, I’m going to show you how.

In this post, we’ll look at how to ask for a raise and get it by covering:

  • The best times to ask for a raise
  • How to prepare for the meeting with your boss
  • What to do during the meeting

And on the off chance, your boss happens to say no, I’ll wrap things up by showing you how to respond graciously (and strategically) so that you’re still able to get something for your effort.

Alright, let’s get started so we can settle those nerves and get you closer to earning the salary you deserve!

When Is The Best Time To Ask For A Raise?

The last thing you want to do is get an automatic ‘no’ to your request for a raise simply because you asked at the wrong time.

So, let’s make sure we tackle this part first before moving on to what you’ll say and how you’ll say it. The best times to ask for a raise include when:

  • You’re scheduled for an annual or quarterly review
  • You’ve just completed a project that went really well, thanks to your initiative
  • The company is doing well financially
  • Your manager is in a good mood and isn’t overwhelmed with work

Preparation Is Key To A Successful Meeting

salary negotiation between boss and employee

When it comes to asking for anything – let alone a raise – preparation is the key ingredient to your success.

If you negotiated your salary before accepting the offer for your current job, the steps I’m about to share on how to prepare you for asking for a raise should come as no surprise. But even then, it’s a good refresher so that you don’t miss anything important!

Here are 5 steps to prepare for a successful meeting to discuss your salary:

Step 1: Request A Private Meeting With Your Boss

The decision to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to your request for a raise is one that your boss will want to consider carefully. If you have a performance review coming up, let them know you’d like to discuss your compensation at that time as well. If not, pick a convenient time to meet in private and let them know beforehand that you hope to discuss your salary.

Step 2: Research Salary Trends

You’ll have the highest chance for success if you base your request for a raise on data. Take a look at data on salary websites, like Payscale, to find out where your current salary falls in the range for people in your role. When deciding on how much you’ll ask for, make sure to factor in how long you’ve been in your career at this company. These things make you more valuable than someone new they’d have to hire without you.

Step 3: Create A List Of Your Most Important Accomplishments And Responsibilities

What have you done that demonstrates you deserve a raise? You might be asked this question. So, be proactive and write it all down in an organized bullet point list. Make it look nice, because you’ll also need to bring a copy of the list to the meeting to give to your boss.

Step 4: Prepare How You’ll Answer Questions And Respond To Salary Negotiation

Your request for a raise will likely be met with at least some resistance. This is normal. Think about how you’ll answer questions like “Why do you think you deserve this raise right now?” or “Would you be willing to take on new responsibilities for this salary?”

Step 5: Rehearse The Conversation Beforehand

Let a friend or trusted colleague know that you’re preparing to ask for a raise so that you have someone to rehearse the conversation you’ll have with your boss. The goal is to reduce any signs of hesitation and know exactly what you’re going to say before walking into the meeting.

During The Meeting: Asking For The Raise!

an employee demonstrating to a boss what he's done to earn a raise

Now it’s time to put all of your preparation to work. It’s time to actually ask for your raise! To give yourself the best shot, follow these 6 tips:

Tip #1: Thank your boss for meeting with you and give a quick recap of what you want to discuss. As I mentioned before, your likelihood of success is higher if your boss is in a good mood when you’re asking for a raise. Start the meeting off with a bit of gratitude for their time and then set the tone for a professional discussion by getting straight to the point.

Tip #2: Give a quick overview of any recent accomplishments that help justify a raise. State confidently what you think demonstrates why you’ve been a great employee, so that their memory is fresh when you ask for raise.

Pro tip: The bullet point list you prepared will come in handy here. Remember to give them their own copy to review for easy reference later on.

Tip #3: Confidently ask for the raise. If you put the time into rehearsing, this part should come easy. But beware. Far too many of us have a tendency when we’re nervous to end our statements sounding a bit like questions – a phenomenon known as uptalk.

So, be sure to practice this part as much as you need to so that your boss doesn’t start doubting whether you’ve actually prepared for the meeting.

Tip #4: Walk them through the research you did to get to that number. You need to back up why you’re asking for a raise. Confidently speak to your boss about the research you did on salary trends and why you think the salary you’re asking for is more reflective of what you’re worth to the company now.

Tip #5: Reference your research and accomplishments when negotiating and answering questions. Your boss will likely have some questions. And you’ll probably need to negotiate. You should be ready for this based on everything you did in the preparation stage. But if you’re caught off guard, do your best to reference back to your research and list of accomplishments.

Tip #6: Avoid talking about personal reasons for needing more money. While it may be true that your motivation for a raise stems from an actual need for more cash, avoid bringing that up with your boss. It could come across as unprofessional and take away from how your performance at work actually demonstrates that you deserve a raise.

How To Graciously Accept And Handle A “No”

Sometimes, no matter how much you’ve prepared, you’ll still get a no when asking for a raise. It could be for a number of reasons, some of them being out of your control. But no need to worry.

There are still a few things you can do to graciously accept a “no” and, in the same conversation, get a ‘yes’ on something else.

For example, I’d recommend you:

Negotiate For Other Benefits

After denying your request for a raise, your boss is more likely to say ‘yes’ to a smaller request. Why? Because they’ll subconsciously start to feel bad about rejecting every request you make.

It’s too much to go into just now, but do a bit of research into the “Door in the Face Technique” and then prepare to ask for smaller requests like:

Flexible working hours

Additional vacation days

A title change

A smaller increase to your salary

Find Out What Would Make You Qualified For A Raise In The Future

It’s also a good idea to figure out what you could do to get a ‘yes’ when asking for a raise in the future.

It could be as simple as asking, “What would you like to see from me before reconsidering an increase to my salary?”. Use what your boss says when answering that question to create a plan to really demonstrate the value you bring to the company. And then ask for the raise again once you’ve executed on that plan!

Schedule A Meeting To Discuss A Raise Again In The Future

Maybe the only reason you were told no is because you misjudged the timing. In that case, plan to follow up.

Ask your boss when would be a better time to discuss your salary. This level of proactiveness might feel like you’re being too pushy. But what it actually does is show your boss how serious and confident you are that you deserve a raise.

Final Thoughts

Asking for a raise might not be easy. But sometimes, it’s a must to ensure you feel valued and are adequately compensated for your work — two things that are essential for a career you’ll enjoy. So, use the tips you’ve learned here to go get the salary you deserve!

Austin Belcak

Austin is the founder of Cultivated Culture where he helps people land jobs without connections, without traditional experience, and without applying online. His strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, & Fast Company and has helped people just like you land jobs at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, & more.

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