Asking for a raise is one of those things that some people have no problem with… and for the rest of us it’s terrifying! We don’t want to seem greedy or we don’t want to hear a big “No!” and be disappointed. We run all kinds of worst-case scenarios through our heads and settle on not rocking the boat.
But, if you feel you really deserve a raise, then asking for one and getting it can be one of the most empowering things in the world. And you might just find that your boss respects you even more because you had the wherewithal to ask and recognize your own value to the company.
I’m in the “never want to rock the boat” category, but I have actually gotten up my courage and asked for a raise in the past, and I was pleasantly surprised with a positive response and feeling like valued part of my company. Of course, I sweated it out for days before asking! I kept putting it off (telling myself, tomorrow would be a better day to ask), but once I was finally on the other side of that moment, I realized I had done all that stressing for nothing.
It never hurts to look (and FEEL) like a million bucks when you ask for a raise. This flexible blazer (in my favorite power color) will make you look great and boost your confidence. (click to see it on Amazon)
How Can I Successfully Ask for a Raise?
I’ve broken down the keys to asking for a raise successfully into three simple areas:
- Be honest with yourself
- Be prepared
- Be flexible
Before we get into each one and how it’s going to help you successfully request that raise, let’s look at some wrong ways to ask that pretty much guarantee you won’t be happy with the result.
1) Don’t ask for a raise just because someone else got one
- You want to ask for a raise based upon your hard work, not tie it to another person.
2) Don’t ask for a raise without knowing your value to the company (in details)
- If you just go in saying you show up for work on time and work hard, that’s not really going to WOW anyone.
3) Don’t cop an attitude if you don’t get what you want right away
- There are ways you can come out of a salary negation still getting something if not the amount of money you wanted, so don’t burn bridges by losing your temper
Now let’s take a look at how to ask for a raise the RIGHT way and be successful by taking three key steps before you walk in your boss’s office.
3 Keys to “Getting a Raise” Success
Be Honest with Yourself
It’s not always easy to be objective about ourselves, but you need to really take an honest look at yourself and ask, “Why do I deserve a raise?” And give yourself real answers, not just that you’re awesome (we already know that!), but reasons that are detailed and relate to what value you bring to your company.
This exercise will help you prepare, be confident about asking for a raise (even if you’re terrified at the thought of it), and it will help you be ready for any hard questions you may get in your negotiation.
Questions to ask yourself:
How have I grown and helped the company grow?
This could include that you’ve taken on more responsibilities, such as supervising another staff member or cross-training to back up another position, meaning that you’re able to do more for the company than you did in the past.
How is my attendance & attitude?
If you’ve had a few too many days where you sneak in about 5-10 minutes late or never volunteer to work late when it’s crunch-time, then be honest with yourself and call yourself out.
This allows you to consciously make the choice to change those habits a few months prior to asking for a raise, so if challenged, you can show that you’ve made a positive change and know in your heart that you truly did.
How much do I want as a raise?
This is something you should know before you go in, and it’s best if it is a range, that way you can start high, but still have a safety zone to go lower and still be happy. Also think about other things of value to you (we’ll get into that more in the Be Flexible section).
Why do I deserve a raise?
This is going to be the important question that you’re making a case for when you go in to see your boss to ask for a raise, so you need to have a detailed answer for yourself first. Saying “I’ve been here 5 years” or “Because Sally just got one and I work harder than her!” aren’t going to cut it.
List out reasons and be specific, they may look something like:
Now it’s time to take the answers to those questions you just asked yourself and formulate them into a plan that’s going to help even the most introverted person go into their boss’s office with confidence.
Make a list of the value you’ve added to the company over the last year (or several years), and the important part is to be detailed! This is your Value List.
Putting a little effort into it and providing hard numbers is going to help you be much better prepared and let your employer know just how valuable you are.
Here’s an example of some of the items and hard numbers to use on your Value List:
Print out your Value List and take it in with you to refer to when you ask for a raise. You’ll also find that something wonderful happens when you’re making it. If you’re hesitant about asking or having second thoughts about whether you deserve a raise at all, you’re going to see yourself in a whole new light when making your Value List. You’ll see you for the awesome team player you are and get a fresh jolt of confidence.
It’s important when going in to any negotiation to have a plan B (and C, even!). After all, there could be some constraints that you don’t know about. Such as your manager just got his/her budget cut making it more difficult for them to give you the raise you want.
So, that sounds like you’re saying I might not get my raise after all that prep work! Not exactly, what I’m saying is be flexible in what you consider a “raise,” or something of value to you. While getting more money and the amount you want is the best-case scenario for most people, there may also be some other things that are just as valuable to you and that your boss is willing to give you.
Do you have kids in elementary school? Whether you’re a mom or dad, you might be able to negotiate a lower pay increase but add flex time to work from home on Fridays to save on after school care.
To get your mind thinking of flexible ways to think of a raise, here are some other potential things of value that could be your plan B or C:
The key here is to go in with flexible options (and be creative!) that involve not only money but other things of value as well that you can negotiate with and still come away with both you and your boss feeling happy and most importantly… YOU feeling valued.
What’s Your Favorite Story about Asking for a Raise?
Tell us things you’ve done to get the raise you deserved. I’ve love to hear your stories, whether scary, powerful, or funny!
There’s a good chance your story will help empower others and might just be the boost someone needs to get their own raise and feel happy and valued… and… Work Happy!