You’ve been working hard at your company for over a year, and you know that you should be being paid more for all that you contribute, but your manager hasn’t offered you a raise yet. Should you just keep waiting and hoping? How long could that take? You could always ask for it… but you don’t want to sound greedy or ungrateful. However, it’s only weird if you make it weird; asking for a raise is a normal part of most careers. Companies know that they have to pay their employees a competitive salary or they will go elsewhere for the pay they deserve. Your manager has definitely been asked this question before and they won’t be offended by it if you broach the topic using these tips.
Consider a pre-conversation
Let your boss know that you are trying to improve by asking them for feedback on your current work performance. This way, the idea of giving you a raise will have already crossed their mind by the time you do ask. Start this “pre-conversation-conversation” by saying that you while you are trying to excel in your current role, your long term goal is to advance in the company and you want to make sure that you are doing what you can to position yourself for the next role. Ask them how you can improve and then apply their advice.
Know your worth!
Based on your previous conversation about your performance, you should have a good idea if your manager thinks that you’re putting in good work. If you already were or if you have successfully improved upon what they have mentioned in previous meetings or annual evaluations, then your next step should be to consider how much you are going to ask your raise to be. Do your research on the usual salary for someone in your position, geographic area, and experience. This is easier said than done, but you can use websites like Salary.com or Glassador for a rough estimate, and ask mentors, co-workers, recruiters, or professional organizations within your field for a better idea. When asking your co-workers, phrase the question as “What would you expect a person in my position to be paid?”. They’ll be happy to answer this question as it is not personal, and it might set the stage for them to feel comfortable disclosing what they make, which would be helpful in determining what your company is willing to pay.
Know your timing
Timing is everything when it comes to asking for a raise. Generally, you don’t want to ask for one less than 1 year after your last raise unless your responsibilities have dramatically changed. If it’s been over a year, a good time to bring it up is during your annual performance review if your company has one, or after you have done amazing on a project and your manager will have this instance of your performance fresh in her mind. Another good time is around a month before the company’s annual budget planning takes place. If you ask after the budget has already been finalized then you might be told to wait a year (#sad). Don’t bring this up when the company is going through a period of financial hardship or if your boss seems particularly stressed or irritated (especially if it is with you!)
When you enter the room make sure that your body language is conveying that you are comfortable and confident. A good way to prepare for this is by doing power poses before the interview like standing with your hands on your hips or with your arms straight out (obviously make sure to do these at home or in the bathroom before so you don’t look crazy!). Additionally, wear a professional outfit that makes you feel confident and don’t bring in more than one object into the meeting because it can make you seem disorganized. Keep your hands above the table, because when they are out of view people subconsciously think that you are hiding something. Finally, practice your pitch before so you can make sure that you won’t stutter and can speak in a confident tone of voice.
Speak your mind.
Structure the conversation around the past, present, and future. Speak about how you are grateful for how the job has been going so far, then go into your accomplishments using specific performance data if possible. Finally, ask if they can adjust your pay to reflect these achievements. The Cut provided a good example of how this could go: “I really appreciate the opportunities you’ve given me for greater responsibilities, like X and Y. I’ve been getting great results in those areas over the last year and have exceeded the goals we’d created. Could we talk about adjusting my salary to reflect this higher level of contribution?”
What not to say
Only touch on what contributions you’ve made to the company, don’t say why you need the money. Generally, managers won’t give you a raise just because your rent has increased, they’ll give you one if they think your work deserves it.
How to respond
Expect them to ask you questions about your accomplishments, your plans for your future at the company, and how much you expect your raise to be. At this point they will either say yes, maybe, or no. If they say yes, negotiations will probably start on how much the raise will be. Make sure to say thank you and ask questions like if the raise comes with new responsibilities and when you can expect it to take effect. If they say that they need to take time to consider it, ask them if you could check back with them at a specific date to motivate them to make the decision.
If they say that a raise isn’t possible with the current budget, ask them when it will be possible, and use this as an opportunity to ask for non-monetary perks like additional vacation time or a title change. If they say no because of your performance, ask them what you can do to earn more in the future, and utilize their feedback. If they aren’t able to give you specific advice to earn a raise or they don’t know if there will ever be room in the budget to accommodate a raise, you might have to consider leaving this company in order to make a higher salary.