Have you recently received a stellar performance review? Or taken on additional job responsibilities? Or are you being paid under market value?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to talk to your manager about a pay raise. In an ideal world, your contributions should automatically be rewarded. But if they aren’t, it’s time for you to have that conversation with your boss. We don’t recommend trying to wing it, though. Your proposition will be better received if you prepare well.
Here’s how to put your best foot forward:
1. Do some self-assessment
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to begin with:
- If you were your supervisor, would you feel your work exceeds expectations?
- Do you have any other team members who have the same responsibilities as you?
- How do you perform in comparison to your peers?
- Have you taken on more responsibilities now compared to when you were hired?
- How have you added to your skillset to make yourself a more valuable employee?
Make sure to answer these questions long before you ask for a raise. If you can’t show that you’ve increased your capabilities or advanced the company in some way, your boss may not have much of an incentive to fulfill your request.
2. Conduct industry research
One of the worst things you can do while asking for a raise is to understate or overstate the amount you ask for. Don’t just throw out a figure that comes to your mind, which you feel you’d be satisfied with. Your boss will take your case a lot more seriously if you present a well-researched figure.
To identify the sweet spot, do some research to see how much other companies pay their employees for working in the same role as you. You can find this information easily on employment websites. Identify where you fall on average based on the scale of work you handle in comparison, i.e., does your company handle more or less work compared to other companies?
Based on your research, identify a numerical value for your raise that you can justify.
3. Assess your company’s financial position
It can be unreasonable to ask for a raise in certain circumstances. You’ll want to ensure that your company is doing well enough, and there are a few good ways to gauge this. For starters, consider where your company is at on its growth trajectory. If you’re working for a start-up that is still trying to get off the ground, it might be unreasonable to ask for a raise.
Next, has the company grown in size since you started working there? Has there been an increase in their revenue and your responsibilities? If yes, the odds are in your favor.
Finally, has the company had a good financial year? If they’ve reported a profitable result, then it’s definitely a good time to ask for a raise. It is most definitely not a good idea to ask your employer for a raise if the company is struggling financially, reporting losses and trying to cut down on costs.
Now that you’ve built a strong case, there are two more questions you need answers to: When is the best time to ask for a raise and what to avoid saying when making the ask.
When is the best time to ask for a raise?
As any recruiting firm or employer will tell you, the timing of popping the raise question is crucial. Here are some pointers for when you should ideally have this conversation:
- When your boss is in a good mood. It’s obvious, but important!
- When you have a better offer from another company. If you have done valuable work, other companies may try to poach you with a higher paycheck. You can leverage that offer to negotiate a raise for yourself at your current organization.
- When everyone else is being rewarded. If your peers are getting a raise and you’re not, first assess whether it’s because they deserve it and you don’t. If your performance has been good, you may have just been overlooked, and it’s worth speaking up.
- When your boss is not in a rush. Don’t start a conversation about getting a raise when your boss is having a whirlwind of a day or when they are trying to get out the door to a meeting. If they are pressed for time, they are less likely to pay attention to your case.
What to avoid saying when asking for a raise?
Keep in mind that saying certain things while asking for a raise can be a turn-off for your employer. Here’s what to avoid saying:
- I’ve been working here for a long time. Working in an organization for a long time doesn’t equate to performance. Instead of leading the conversation with how many years you’ve worked there, highlight all your contributions and achievements during that period.
- I’m struggling financially. This is understandable, but financial management is a personal problem. Consider matching your lifestyle to your paycheck and not the other way around. You can instead offer to take on more responsibilities to get higher compensation.
Understandably, asking for a raise is a difficult conversation to have. However, if you build a strong case and find the right time to have the conversation, you should be able to get a positive answer. If your employer declines, ask when you can have this conversation again or what more you can do to be considered for a raise.