This is a guest post by Charlie Fletcher with edits by Lei Han
A couple years ago, I knew I needed to ask for a raise. Like many of my millennial peers, I had enough to get by, but I couldn’t do much more beyond that. Having enough down payment to buy a house, maintaining regular car payments, affording the right ring and ceremony to tie the knot with my significant other — these hallmarks of the American dream were just out of reach. My paycheck was just too low to achieve any of these.
However, the prospect of asking for a raise felt … weird. I had no idea how to ask for a raise in the right way. I’d already gotten a promotion (and a reasonable raise) in the past 6 months. Part of me felt that asking for a pay raise would come off as unreasonable or ungrateful. I knew however that without a proper raise, I am not sure I am getting the recognition I deserved. The solution to this was to simply to take matters into my own hands and ask for a raise.
I rehearsed my pitch for a few nights, asked for a one-on-one meeting with my manager, and laid it out for him to consider. I noted my financial struggles and hinted that a bigger paycheck would solve a lot of my problems. My manager grew obviously impatient as the meeting passed the 10-minute mark. When the message didn’t seem to be getting through, I flouted my rehearsed talking points and directly stated, “I need a raise.”
I didn’t get the raise. At least, not until I changed my approach a few months later.
For many employees, it is hard to know how to ask for a raise with confidence. Many don’t ask at all because it’s simply intimidating. You may say to yourself – “Why should I ask for a raise? Asking for one could result in an embarrassing rejection (as it did for me). It may even put my job at risk. ” However, asking for a pay raise can have positive benefits too. If done right, it can show your manager your initiative and your work plus value to the team. You can learn from the process even if the answer is no. With the help of these 4 tips, you can increase your chances.
Tip 1: Earn the Raise
It’s important not to let fear or anxiety get the best of you when you need a raise. While you should keep your expectations realistic, you also shouldn’t let your employers take advantage of you. Knowing your worth is a strength that you should work to improve on.
There is no guarantee that you will get a pay raise. But there are ways to increase your chances. To do this, you need to make sure your value in your position is as high as possible. You can’t ask for a raise you don’t deserve, so the first step is to evaluate your performance.
You can ask yourself the following questions to do this:
- Are you meeting all the requirements of your job?
- Are you completing tasks on time and with high-quality?
- Are you volunteering for more responsibilities and ownership?
- What are the shortcomings of your performance? Are you actively working on addressing them?
Once you have evaluated your job performance, take time to adjust your work to make sure you are exceeding the standard performance in all of your duties. Of course, this won’t qualify you for a raise, but it is a starting point to make sure you truly deserve the raise.
Tip 2: Up Your Value
Next, you need to evaluate your value to the team. It’s one thing to meet, even exceed the basic requirements for work, but to get a raise, you need to do more than that. You need to think about how your time and experience has shaped you into a valuable employee with unique contributions that would qualify you for a raise.
A few ways to stand out to get your pay raise include:
- Pay attention to what your boss thinks is important and actively volunteer to help address them
- Say yes to extra work that builds your skills and helps your manager
- Dress and present yourself well around your manager and his or her peers
- Look for ways to be the top-performing employee in different ways.
Once you know you consistently offer unique value to your team, you know you actually deserve an income increase. This makes asking for a raise easier, as you can be more confident in the fact that you will get one.
Tip 3: Know Your Value & What You Want
Knowing your value and what you want are important parts of asking for a raise. If you are asking for a higher wages, you need to have a number in mind and know it’s a fair number to ask. You need to do research and better understand the market value of someone at your level and be able to show facts why you should be better compensated. If you are asking to be promoted to another position, you need to know what position you want and why they should give it to you. Whatever you might be asking for, you need to be ready to answer questions directly and ask for what you want, otherwise you will be wasting your time and the time of your managers.
What you want will depend on your personal goals. If you are an early-career millennial, your desires for work will likely align with these. If you are more experienced or are the main supporter of a family, you may be less concerned with collaboration and more focused on providing for your family. Either way, it’s important to recognize what you want from your job that you aren’t currently getting, so that you know what exactly you are working toward.
Tip 4: Positive Language and a Great Attitude
Confidence plays a major role in negotiating wages. If you know that you deserve your raise and have a solid idea of what you are asking for in mind, then you can be confident in meeting with your boss.
Once you’re in the meeting with your boss to discuss your pay, the negotiating can begin. When negotiating your wages, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Let the employer tell you what they are willing to pay
- Be calm and patient and don’t rush or stress about making quick choices.
- React slowly, try to look thoughtful to make your employer keep talking or improve their offer.
- If you are not satisfied with your boss’ response or if your boss shared he is able to give you a raise right now due to policy, think about alternative ways to improve your pay, (e.g., extra PTO, extra bonus based on performance a year from now, ability to work a few days remotely, agreement to revisit this in 6 month etc…)
It was only after approaching the request with confidence that I had positive results. Six months after my initial attempt — during a routine one-on-one with my boss — I asked for a raise again. Instead of bringing up my personal financial issues, I outlined exactly why I was a valuable employee and brought up specific examples of how I was exceeding expectations. I remained positive and confident throughout the entire meeting — and I successfully earned my raise.
If you can manage to complete all the steps and walk into your meeting with the right confidence, your boss should have no reason to deny your request other than simply not being able to afford it. Make sure to be gracious upon hearing your answer. If it doesn’t work out how you planned, at least you have gained some experience in job negotiation — and if it does, then you can go out and celebrate your raise!
Your comments: Have you asked for a raise before? If so, how did it go? what did you do that worked or didn’t work? We look forward to your comments and questions.
Like this article? Then help me and share it on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc…
New to this site? Start here – Soft Skills – How to Succeed like an Executive
Guest Author: Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. When not writing, she can be found exploring the great outdoors or geeking out over the latest Game of Thrones fan theories.