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How to Ask for a Raise

Money rains on a man who knows how to ask for a raise

We’d all like to make more money – even if we don’t deserve it. But what if you think you really do? How to ask for a raise is easily one of the most confusing and intimidating conundrums we face if only because of the fear of rejection. Not getting what we want – or even worse, what we feel we deserve – can result in a flurry of emotional responses, including questioning our self-worth…Or at least our self-market value. Am I asking too much? Am I underappreciated? Should I start job hunting? What if no one else will pay what I want either?

Here’s some advice on how to ask for a raise – and raise your chances of getting it:

Keep it professional

It’s not a good idea to ask for a raise on the basis that you need it for personal reasons. As cold as it may sound, it’s not your emploHow to ask for a raise successfully can depend on an employer’s financial situationyer’s business to know how much your rent, mortgage, grocery, car, or phone cost, nor any of your other living expenses. Personal budgeting is your responsibility. That’s not to say that your boss won’t understand or sympathize with you. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to get you more money.

The times, they are a-changin’ – always

Many factors influence when and how much of a raise employees will get – if any – at any given organization. You need to consider, especially in economic times such as these, not only how well your employer is doing, but how well your industry’s doing. Is your employer the only one being extra frugal these days, or are your competitors all doing the same? You’re more likely to get a raise if you ask for one when times are good because your employer can afford it – and so can some of their competitors.

Preview your review

Again, timing is key. You might think that asking for a raise after you’ve received a positive performance review is best, but they are usually determined well ahead of time – sometimes months ahead. Therefore, you’ll need to anticipate whether you expect an above-par assessment of your work. With that said, at the end of the day, you don’t necessarily know how your review will go, but you should be prepared to speak to your strengths and accomplishments regardless. This proactive approach could make things go smoother than expected. After all, ironically, if you’re doing your job well, it’s possible that not everything you’re doing is being noticed by your superiors. Your performance review is a good time to make sure they find out.

Quantify what you’ve doneA woman calculates the revenue she has generated as part of how to ask for a raise

If you’ve helped your organization make more money, then it’s arguable you’re worth more money. If you can tie your efforts to an increase in revenue, keep track of it and bring attention to it in your regular reports and in your performance reviews. If your accomplishments aren’t directly tied to revenue, figure out how they’re indirectly tied to it. And if that’s too difficult or speculative, keep track of every statistic you can because good numbers news is always better than no numbers news.

Research your market value

Another crucial point on how to ask for a raise successfully is to know what your counterparts in the local job market are making. When conducting this research, however, remember to bear in mind not only where you are geographically, but also how large your organization is, how many years of experience you have, and the benefits you’re receiving. All of these elements factor into your employer’s total compensation package for you.

With that said, finding accurate research on the subject can be difficult. As we’ve previously advised employers on this blog, the salary calculators out there vary in dependability, so it’s best to do some research on sources first, comparing several to see if you find consistencies worth relying on. To streamline your efforts, it’s also worth checking out what industry associations have to say as well as publications like Adecco’s own Compensation Guide, which takes into account various factors many other sources may not. Having reliable research can help validate your request for a raise– but there’s no guarantee.

Two men on two piles of coins indicating different job market valueFirst, remember that different organizations can use similar sounding titles for very different jobs. Make sure the salaries of the jobs you’re looking at align with your actual duties. Second, as discussed earlier, the economy and financial health of your employer may have your boss’ hands tied, in which case, it’s best to turn to the strategies above as they’re more effective than simply pointing out that you’re underpaid. Instead, use your research to bolster the discussion about your accomplishments. No employer wants to lose a valuable employee to a competitor who can pay more – but it’s more important that the employee demonstrates just how valuable they really are.

How to ask for a raise – literally

When it comes time to actually open your mouth and speak, remember to start on a positive note by expressing how much you appreciate and enjoy your job and workplace. After all, you’re about to move into how you’re dissatisfied with something. Soften the blow with a bit of sweet talk. Sure, your boss may realize what you’re doing, but it’s still better than going in guns blazing. You should even be prepared to acknowledge whatever factors you think could work against you. Whether it’s the economy, industry issues, or company troubles, preemptively mentioning such concerns shows that you’re not ignorant of them and therefore serious about what you want. And hopefully that will form a solid foundation for negotiation.

What if nothing works?

If none of the above works, the last thing you should do is threaten to quit. Employers value loyalty, which is why starting with praise before bringing up a raise is so important. If you’ve already got one foot out the door, your boss will see little reason to invest in you in the future. Your best recourse is to ask what you can do going forward to get what you want. And if you’re determined to find somewhere else to work, keep it to yourself.

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