Just the thought of asking for a raise at work can be enough to get your heart pounding. For many workers, asking for a raise can be intimidating. You might be afraid of how your boss will react, unsure of how to react yourself, or lost as to how you should go about this somewhat delicate process.
It’s crucial that you learn to ask for and negotiate higher pay at the beginning of your career. It’s the best investment you can make in yourself, as just like any other investment it has the potential to compound over time.
In other words, if you fail to negotiate for a raise early on in your career, you’re missing out on an opportunity to earn more over time.
The key to successfully asking for a raise is to be prepared. Educate yourself on how to negotiate and understand what you should and shouldn’t do when asking for more.
1. Do Your Research
The most important thing you can do to start the process of asking for a raise is to do your own research on the market. What is the average salary for your position in your area?
You can’t compare apples to oranges. Get as specific as possible, and if the data is in your favor, bring it to the meeting to show your boss that you’re legitimately underpaid.
You need to have a solid, concrete number in mind before negotiating. You’ll likely be asked what you want, and you don’t want to sit there thinking about it — or give a wishy-washy answer. Respond with the number you want, and then be prepared to negotiate to reach an agreement.
2. Gather Supporting Documents
This is common advice, but always remember to keep any proof of praise you receive. It comes in handy when asking for a raise. This is easier to do if you receive an email from a client or boss letting you know that you’ve been doing well. This is all proof of the value you provide your company, which you should mention, as it gives you more negotiating power.
Did you have any major accomplishments since your last review? Did you learn a new software quickly? Did you obtain a certification or degree relevant to your field? Did you volunteer to take on a new project and knock it out of the park?
These are all things you should mention! Be prepared to share anything that helps prove that you’re an asset to your employer.
3. Schedule a Time
Respect your boss’ time, and schedule a meeting. Don’t spring your request for more pay on them out of the blue.
Avoid scheduling a time to talk for extremely busy periods for your office, when everyone is stressed and feeling overworked. You’ll also want to avoid scheduling your meeting when business is slow and profits may not be as high as during other times of the year; this may affect the answer your boss gives.
4. Negotiation Time: Business As Usual
The number one mistake you can make while asking your boss for a raise is to be emotional about it. Treat it like a true business meeting. Don’t shy away and don’t show that you’re nervous. Act like you would in an interview.
Be confident and willing to discuss how valuable you are in your position.
That is what matters to your boss at the end of the day. They don’t want to know your personal reasons for asking for more money — they don’t want to hear that you need the money because you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you want a new car, or you need to save for a child’s college education.
Keep it professional and only give reasons relevant to the great work you do when asking for and negotiating a raise.
(For tips on what to say during the meeting, take a quick look at what an HR manager suggests.)
5. Dealing with Offers
Hopefully you succeeded in asking your boss for a raise. But if not, try not to take it personally. And don’t hesitate to ask about other compensation beyond increased salary.
Your boss may not be able to provide you with more pay for a variety of reasons out of their control. But that doesn’t mean you can negotiate for better benefits. Come prepared to discuss more than salary — like more vacation days or other types of compensation.
Regardless of the offer you get — or the lack of an offer — keep your emotions in check.
And remember, the only way you’ll know is to ask! Sometimes, managers are too caught up in their own work to remember to schedule reviews. Taking the initiative is usually seen in a positive light, and now you know you’re capable of it.
Negotiating is an essential skill in life, and while it might be uncomfortable the first few times, you — and your lifetime earnings — will be much better off having those experiences under your belt.