5 Rules of Asking for a Raise

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to seek a promotion, to take on more responsibilities, or ask for a raise, this may be the perfect time to execute your ideas. Developing a new perspective, set of goals, and clearly-defined plan for attack is a surefire way to give you the extra drive to continue progressing in your career.

Here are five rules on asking for a raise to help you get well on your way:

1. Be the Best You Possible

First and foremost, make sure to establish yourself as someone deserving of a raise. This may seem like common sense, but self-analysis is hard for many of us, and we struggle to effectively ascertain where our strengths and weaknesses are. Before going to your supervisor, make a list of all of your job duties and see if you are doing absolutely everything you can to perform above and beyond expectations. Get to work a few minutes early and leave a few minutes late. Go over details with a fine-toothed comb, making sure your work is free of errors or oversights. Volunteer to take on some extra duties whenever possible, and don’t complain about things in the office. Complain at home.

2. Know Your Stuff

If you work in a traditional industry with a highly-structured operational structure, this step will be somewhat simple. Before asking for a raise, it’s important to know your company’s policies about salary, so see what you can find out with a little research. For example, is there a standard waiting period for hires to wait before receiving a raise? If you work with others who have asked for raises in your department, reach out to them for advice, but do it in a professional way, and not during a busy work day. Find out what the average salary is for someone in your position, and gauge your negotiations based on statistics. And, of course, know exactly how much more you want to make, down to the last cent. It’s important to frame your raise within the company’s available budget, so learn what you can about how the company allocates funds.

3. Take Baby Steps

You don’t want to oversell yourself. Getting a raise revoked is something that happens frequently, and usually it happens when the employee fails to perform to the standards of the position. There are two ways to avoid this from happening; first, don’t ask for a raise if you don’t think you have the bandwidth to properly take on the new duties and responsibilities. But, there’s another way to both get a raise and not worry about biting off more than you can chew: simply ask for a raise that matches what you can honestly take on. You don’t have to ask for a big raise right away; there’s no reason you can’t ask for smaller increments in pay, if your company allows for such a practice. Be realistic, but challenge yourself, as well.

4. Look Forward, Not Backward

Most, if not all, of us are going to feel that we deserve a raise at some point, and many times it will seem like others are slow to come to that realization themselves. You should never enter a salary negotiation with a feeling of bitterness over what you feel you deserve retroactively; that is, focus instead on how you’re going to prove to your boss that she should have taken notice of your hard work much earlier, and keep future payoff in mind. Nobody wants to give a raise to someone who complains about not being treated fairly (even if it’s true), so make sure to be positive, focused on what’s to come, and willing to let the past serve as a learning tool rather than a point of contention.

5. Be Yourself

This is another rule that sounds obvious, but is in fact a learned behavior for many. If the boss or supervisor who will be deciding on whether to give you a raise or not is the same person who interviewed and/or hired you, keep in mind that she hired you for a reason. Use that already established relationship to your advantage by continuing to be the capable and hard-working person she hired in the first place. Don’t try to become a person hired for another job or pretend to have acquired the skills necessary to do anything other than what you are paid to do. However, you should make it clear that you are willing to learn, but don’t sell yourself to be somebody you’re not. Genuine sincerity will shine through, so try not to overthink your plan of attack.

Many times, a raise is given without the employee’s having to ask for it. This may be the case for you, too, but many employers are wearing multiple hats at any given time, so don’t take your not having been given a raise as proof you don’t deserve one. Sometimes, employers just need a reminder, so go for it!