How to Ask for a Raise

Career Blog

Asking for a raise can be an awkward affair. Fear of the conversation and possible denial prevent many deserving employees from making the inquiry. Calm the concerns and increase your chances by employing the following best practices.

  1. Do Your Research

Before asking for a raise try to ascertain both your value in the external market and your place on the internal pay scale. Sometimes you’re doing great work but have reached the monetary ceiling for the job. Knowing where you stand can help you refine your request if and when you ask.

  1. Know the Competitive Landscape

While we’d like to believe our jobs are stable, the truth in an “at will” environment is that our roles are anything but secure. Each day you’re competing with peers who share your job title and external candidates who desperately want it. If it’s a tight market and your skills are general or easily replaceable you won’t have much leverage. However, if you are in a competitive job market and have niche skills, your negotiating power goes up.

  1. Quantify Your Value

If you objectively determine that you’re eligible for a raise, prepare your case using clear metrics that demonstrate how you add more value than others in the role. For example, do you increase quantity, lower risk, add revenue, or improve quality? Clarifying what “extra” the organization gets by having you in the role will help justify the “extra” compensation.

  1. Pick Your Timing

Smaller companies may have more flexibility to do off-cycle compensation adjustments, but many stick to an annual schedule. Make your case a or two month before the review process begins when leadership is planning budgets. No point in getting a boss to agree with your case if they are powerless to take action.

  1. Skip the Negatives 

Don’t bring up the cost of rehiring and retraining. That’s a generic rationale that sends the conversation in the wrong direction. And don’t talk of a competitive offer unless you actually have one and are ready to leave. You might be the best at what you do, but not every company can afford top tier talent so be prepared for “the what comes next” if the answer is no.

Finally, resist the temptation to cite changing markets as a rational for the inquiry. Yes, inflation can be a wallet crusher, but that’s not specific to your case. Better to build your case around specifics only you can provide than general market trends that effect everyone.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska

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