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The Right Way to Ask for a Raise

We all have dreams of our boss walking up to us one day and saying, “I don’t know what we’d do without you. You need a raise.” Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way, you have to deserve and then ask for that raise. But asking for a raise can be a stressful thing for both you and your boss, so you need to approach it the right way to get the best results. Here are some tips to help:

The Right Beginning
The best time to get the biggest raise is before you even start at your job. Chances are, the figure they throw at you will be in the middle of a salary range they have for the job. Your best bet is to not accept their first offer and to negotiate a better income from the beginning. But be careful, don’t negotiate your way out of a job! If you’re already at the job and thinking of asking for a raise, be sure you know who’s the decision-maker in the raise process. It might not be your direct supervisor.

The Right Amount
How do you know what the right salary amount really is? is a great place to start, but might not have information that closely reflects your job. Your best bet is to have a private meeting with HR to see what’s reasonable compared to other employees or competitors. This is their job and they should have some solid information you can use. While you’re in HR, find out more about their pay increase policies. Maybe you can only get a raise during performance reviews. Get the specifics ahead of time.

The Right Time
Just because your bills are stacking up it doesn’t mean that’s the optimal time to ask for a raise. Timing is everything and can make the difference between a yes and a no from your boss. Also, make sure you don’t have any lingering deadlines over you or have recently messed up at work. The right time to ask is when you’ve completed a major project, solved a major problem or have recently taken on additional responsibilities. And you shouldn’t always wait for your performance review to talk about a raise. Sometimes those pay decisions have been made long before you sit down with your boss for your review.

The Right Approach
First, make an appointment with your boss to discuss a raise. You’ll appear more professional and he/she will take you more seriously. Know your boss’ personality going in. If they’re not a morning person, wait until after lunch to ask for that raise. If they’re non-confrontational, take an easygoing approach to it. Are they a detail-person? Be sure to bring a spreadsheet or PowerPoint outlining everything you’ve done to earn a raise. Actually, do this even if they’re not a detail-person. Numbers speak volumes.

Also, be aware what’s happening in your company overall before meeting with the boss. If there have been layoffs or a recent acquisition, it might be best to wait. Finally, your boss doesn’t really care if you can’t pay your bills. Your finances aren’t his/her concern. What you did to deserve your raise is. State your accomplishments clearly and concisely and be sure not to beg!

The Right Response
If your boss says “yes,” a heartfelt thank you is always welcome. But it’s how you handle a “no” that really matters. Ask them what you could do in the future to deserve a raise. Instead of a raise, maybe you could get a job title change instead. One that truly reflects your job duties if you’ve recently taken on new responsibilities. A new title could give you beneficial leverage with future salary negotiations. If a raise isn’t in your future, then ask what you could do to earn a bonus. Something that won’t have ongoing ramifications might be more likely to happen.

If you were lucky enough to get a “yes” right off the bat, keep your boss to their word and make sure they follow up with their supervisor or any other decision-makers that need to be part of the process. Don’t stop until you’ve actually gotten the increase in pay.

Nobody will look after your best interests or go to bat for you like you will. Start out with a realistic outlook and practice perseverance and you’ll get that raise eventually!