How to Ask for a Raise

Follow these three simple steps to negotiate a higher level of pay in your current job.

Get Ready

Before marching into your boss’s office, arm yourself with some critical information.

Start by doing some research into comparable salaries. This data will help both you and your boss understand your true market value and the cost to replace you should you leave. Two good salary-research sites are www.salary.com and www.payscale.com – there are many more, and you should check several because you’ll find wide variations in the results.

Another way to gather general salary data is to review online job postings. You can also ask friends and relatives about pay ranges for professionals like you at their companies.

Of course, your company isn’t interested in paying you based on what everybody else is making, what you need, or what you think you deserve but rather on your value to the company. To provide credible, factual evidence of that value, you need to document what you’ve accomplished.

Pull out your accomplishment file, performance evaluations, and other documentation that will help you recall what you’ve done for the company in the last weeks, months, and years. Write up brief summaries of your activities along with the specific benefits and results – including hard numbers wherever possible. For greatest impact, tie your accomplishments to strategic company initiatives and goals.

Finally, based on comparable salary data, your level of responsibility, and the value you’ve delivered, set a compensation range that you think is fair. Also think about other perks and benefits you might ask for – this approach can be particularly effective at companies that have rigid salary structures and inflexible review periods.

Get Set

Mental preparation is key to a salary discussion that is positive and professional. Your preparation will build your confidence; now it’s time to make sure you are going in with the right attitude.

Banish any thought of demanding a raise, complaining that you’re underpaid, or comparing yourself to others in your department or at your company. You won’t win points by acting entitled or getting angry or emotional. Don’t bring up what you need or any personal situations that have strapped your finances. This is a business issue, and your goal is to stay focused and keep the discussion on a positive note.

Now, mentally prepared and confident, tell your boss you’d like to schedule some time to review your goals for the coming period. Do not tell him or her you are going to ask for a raise, and don’t say you want a performance review. Schedule a meeting in a quiet place.

Go

At the meeting, spell out what you plan to accomplish for the coming period, and get your boss’s agreement to these goals before moving on. Express enthusiasm and excitement for where the company’s going and how you’re going to help it get there.

Next, review what you’ve contributed in the last several months or even longer. Recap your accomplishments, being sure to stress the hard numbers and results. Again, before proceeding, get your boss to agree that these are the most important things you’ve done.

Now it’s time to ask for the raise. Reiterate that you are proud of what you’ve accomplished in the past and excited about the future. But you believe your compensation should be adjusted upward – to reflect increased responsibility, above-and-beyond performance, or significant contribution to company goals.

Then stop talking and let your boss react and respond. By preparing in advance, you should be ready to counter most objections with facts and figures, not anger, emotion, or defensiveness. And remember, in all negotiations it’s best to let the other party state a number first.

Above all, don’t let the discussion get contentious. Don’t threaten to quit. And don’t issue any kind of ultimatum. It’s likely your boss won’t agree to anything right then and there. Thank him or her for listening and establish the expectation and timing for follow-up. Then go write a brief memo summarizing the meeting, send it to your boss, and pursue the matter as diligently and professionally as you would any business issue.

With a businesslike and fact-based approach, you stand a good chance of getting something (if not everything) you want and will preserve your relationship with your boss. Regardless of what you negotiate, don’t let it affect your performance. After all you can use your fresh accomplishment summaries to update your résumé and look for a better-paying job!

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