Everyone would like to make more money at their job. But does that mean you should actually ask for a raise?
The short answer is: Probably! According to a recent PayScale survey, only 30% of workers who didn’t ask for a raise received one without asking. That same survey also showed that roughly 70% of workers who ask for a raise receive one. The numbers here are pretty clear: Asking for a raise has a decent chance of success, and not asking for one is likely to result in you not getting one.
But how do you go about actually asking for one? There are four key steps:
Long before actually asking for a raise, you’ll want to make sure you have good reasons and evidence backing you up. Keep notes on your big accomplishments at work, from project successes to times you went above and beyond the call of duty. It's also a good idea to have hard numbers on some of the benefits you've brought to the company. If your work was directly responsible for a bump in revenues or a higher customer acquisition/retention rate, keep track of those statistics.
It’s also a good idea to do some market research and find out what salary is being earned by other people with similar jobs to yours. If you’re on friendly terms with co-workers you can invite them out for drinks and have a discussion. For a wider view, sites like Glassdoor or Payscale offer salary calculators to give you a sense of what your skills might command at another company. All of this information will be useful when it comes time to have the conversation with your boss. (And if it turns out that your salary is already well above the market average, and you have no accomplishments to boast about, maybe now isn’t the time to ask for a raise.)
When you ask for a raise can sometimes be as important as how you ask for a raise. The best time to ask for a raise is traditionally an annual performance review. If you are nervous about asking for a raise, this is the easiest time to do so because it is a normal part of the performance review process. Your boss will likely expect you to ask about salary during a review. Another good time to ask for a raise is immediately after hitting a home run. If you’ve just won an award for your company, landed a big client, or otherwise proven your tremendous value, it’s a perfect time to ask for that value to be remunerated.
There are also certain times to avoid asking for a raise. Your boss is a human being, and so you definitely want to catch them in a good mood. If your boss is already out of patience this week -- whether because it’s crunch time at the office, or for an unrelated personal reason -- consider holding off on the salary negotiation for another time. Absent extenuating circumstances like new responsibilities, you should also avoid asking for a raise within a few months of your last raise (or being hired). Most companies like to see a year of work between raises.
The biggest thing to remember when asking for a raise is that you are not telling your boss why you want a raise, you are telling your boss why you deserve a raise. Avoid talking about why you need the money or saying "I’d like to ask for a raise." Instead, try opening with "I’d like to discuss my salary," as you show your boss why you deserve a raise.
You should be confident about your value to the company, and back up that confidence with statistics and specific accomplishments which you have prepared in advance. Be up-front about mentioning the market average salary for your job if it’s higher than your salary. This is also a good time to show some commitment to your work, expressing enthusiasm for good work you’ve done, and how you look forward to helping the company succeed in the future.
If your request for a raise is denied, you should ask why, and what would be required to earn a raise. If your boss tells you specific things to do, write them down, and next time you ask for a raise be sure to mention that you’ve done them. If your boss says there’s just no money in the budget, suggest some perks as an alternative. Options include more vacation days, flex time, some days working from home, or a new title. Just remember, a “no” isn’t the end of the conversation.