The Guide to Asking For a Raise

Woman With Money

So, you’ve been with your company for a year or two. You’ve become a master of your role. You may have even improved a process here and there. Every challenge that comes at you, you meet with skill and determination, and you’ve garnered the respect of both colleagues and supervisors.

But there’s one thing that still makes you sweat, and that’s asking for a raise.

If this is true, then you’re in the same boat that many others find themselves in. Having a frank discussion about money with your superior can be extremely stressful for even the most hardened veteran.

But most of that stress comes from simply not knowing how to ask. With a little preparation, you can not only request a realistic raise—you’ll get one. Gone will be the days of crossing your fingers and hoping that your boss takes notice of your great work. To get your raise, you’re going to quantify that work and sell it in a way that will make him or her want to reward you.

There are four essential things you need to do in order to ask for—and get—a raise. Let’s go through them now so that you can get the pay you deserve.

Excel in Your Role

First and foremost, if you want a raise, you need to excel in your role. While this might seem like common sense, this is a major stumbling block, causing many workers to get that dreaded “no.”

So how can you excel? While every job is different, there are a few things to keep in mind that will apply to any situation.

First, figure out what your performance standards are. Are you expected to write up six reports a day? Do you need to clean three classrooms? Are you supposed to keep the company operating within a set budget? These are things you can easily verify, so talk to your boss, find out what he or she wants, and do it!

Second, ask for feedback. Once you start working toward the goals inherent to your job, make sure you’re doing it right by asking what your superiors think. Look to more experienced colleagues for advice, as well. Be resourceful—the best way to excel in your job is through receiving constructive criticism.

Finally, be on the lookout for ways you can improve things at your workplace. Is something inefficient? Too expensive? A waste of time or a drain on morale? Suggest a change, and you’ll gain a reputation as a valuable employee.

Now that you know how to excel, let’s look at how you can put your excellence down on paper so that you can show your boss your true value.

Quantify Your Worth

Your boss may not know just how valuable you are, and so it’s your job to gather enough data to convince them. You’re going to have to quantify your contributions as best you can. If you’ve been excelling at your job, the numbers will be there. You just have to find them.

For example, if you’re in sales, just how much money did you make the company this past year? Is it more than usual? Did you improve a process that saved the company some cash? Did you do whatever your job is so well that your company earned recognition for it? Are you friendly and easy to work with, causing others to come to you when they need help, which the rate of errors in your department?

Put this down on paper. Show exactly what you did so that there is no question that you’ve been helpful, and prepare all of this before you go in to ask for your raise.

These numbers should show that you’re making your company more successful. For most organizations, everything comes down to money. If you’ve directly—or indirectly—increased your company’s ability to earn, and you can demonstrate this with numbers, you’ve got some great evidence that you deserve a raise.

Choose Your Timing

When it comes to asking for a raise, timing can be everything. You want to approach your boss at the best possible moment.

This means that you may want to indicate your desire for a raise when you, your boss, and your company are at their best. If your boss just had a major failure, if the company is going through a period of layoffs, or if you’ve recently blown a big project, it’s not time to ask for a raise.

Instead, time your request just after you’ve done something great. If you come to your boss while the company is doing well—and thus, feeling like they have money to burn—and while your better qualities are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, you maximize your chances of getting that raise you want.

Sell Instead of Beg

Knowing how to show your boss that you deserve your raise, and not that you simply need it, is the most important thing to remember before asking for a raise.

To do this, you need to package yourself up and sell yourself instead of begging for a handout. Remember all of that performance data you quantified? Now is the time to take that raw data and translate it into why your boss should give you a raise. Become a salesman and use this data as evidence as you argue your case.

Before you come to this meeting, you should make sure that you know how your boss communicates—know what works with your boss. Some respond to numbers. Others respond to a great sales pitch. Still more respond to a more emotional argument. Tailor your personal sales package to work for your audience—your boss.

If it helps, imagine yourself in your boss’s place—their purpose is to make sure the business runs as well as possible, and keeping their job depends on how well they do that. Rewarding good workers encourages everyone to do their best, which makes the whole company better. Simply giving people what they want, however, would be seen as a waste of resources.

Know yourself, know your boss, and use all of this information to sell yourself in the most effective way possible. You’ll have a much higher chance of being awarded.

Just Do It

If you remember these four essential tips and use them to prepare, you’ll be absolutely ready to ask for a raise, and so it’s now time to put fear aside and realize that you can do this. Approach this situation with humility, confidence, and readiness, and you’re likely to get what you ask for.

There’s only one thing getting in your way now—you! So, hurdle over your fear, head over to your boss’s office, and knock.

After all, that’s the only way you’ll get a door to open for you.

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