How to ask your boss for a raise

How to ask your boss for a raise

In a perfect world, our bosses would notice our accomplishments and contributions to the company without a reminder. The boss would then research a proper pay scale and offer you a raise at the high end of what someone in your position should be making.

Unfortunately, this is not how most companies work. The scary truth is that 99% of the time, if you’re looking for a raise, you’ve got to ask for it yourself. We’re here to provide you with the tips you’ll need to be able to sit down confidently with your boss and start making the money that you know you deserve.

  • Three months before asking for a raise:
    • Figure out the exact amount that you’re looking for. There are a lot of websites that will give you a breakdown of what professionals in your location with your level of experience are making. You’ll feel more confident going in with a solid number that you know you deserve. Try salary.com and payscale.com, or do a quick Google search.
    • Have a meeting with your boss to find out what he thinks of your performance. If he gives you a glowing review of things that you’re doing well you can keep doing those and more. If he gives you a list of things that you need to work on, you can demonstrably improve in those areas to show you deserve higher compensation.
    • Start documenting and quantifying contributions you make to the company. Now is the time to take action on any of the objectives your boss set for you, and to keep a record so that when you’re asked why you deserve a raise you have a list backing you up. Have you found a faster way to train new hires? Did you make an existing process more efficient? Did you save the company money? Did you bring in new clients? These are all measurable things that you can use as a backup when arguing your case.
  • A week before asking for a raise:
    • Set a meeting with your boss. A week is enough time to show respect for his schedule, and short enough so that you don’t spend the next several weeks or months stressing out.
    • Double check the salary range that you’ll be asking for. It’s worth revisiting the sites linked above to find out if you might be able to ask for a bit more, and it’s also a good idea to look into how in-demand your skills and profession are. If you have uniquely valuable skills in a high-demand profession, you can use that as leverage.
    • Start preparing your backup materials. Gather together and organize the notes you’ve been keeping for the past several months detailing your contributions. Categorize them from most to least important or group them by type.
  • The night before asking for a raise:
    • Get a good night’s sleep. You’ve likely got the jitters, but it’s crucial that you feel rested and confident the next day. Things that will help you sleep include a moderate workout, a healthy filling dinner, and possibly a supplement like melatonin or magnesium.
    • Practice what you’re going to say. You don’t want to sound overly mechanical and rehearsed, but you do want to run through your talking points with a friend or partner. Have them ask questions your boss could ask such as ‘why do you feel you deserve this raise’ and say things like ‘that’s just not in the budget right now’ so you have prepared responses.
    • Double check your alarm! It would make a pretty terrible impression for you to show up late the day you’re trying to get the company to give you more money.
  • The day you ask for a raise:
    • Do a superhero pose in the bathroom just before the meeting. Not kidding. This sounds silly, but striking a confident pose before meetings like this has been measurably shown to increase confidence and your odds of success.
    • Be relaxed, yet confident. You want to give the impression of a professional who is getting what they deserve as opposed to someone who is nervous and desperate. Ways to help this include making consistent eye contact, being conscious of fidgeting, and making sure that you speak slowly and don’t let nerves speed you up.
    • Ask for more than you want. If you’re looking for a 7% raise, go in there asking for 12%. You’ve demonstrated your value to the company clearly and they’ll likely provide the raise as long as you remain firm in your will, but they will still probably try to low ball you. Don’t lowball yourself for them.
  • What to do if your boss says no:
    • Remain calm and respectful. It can be easy to get overwhelmed or angry after receiving a rejection to the great case you laid out, but how you react now will shape your future at this company. Keep your composure.
    • Ask the boss if there is anything you can improve upon in the next three to six months that would make your raise possible. It could be that you just didn’t meet a particular goal or milestone, and once you achieve that then the raise is yours.
    • If they still say no, and despite your value to the company refuse to pay you what you deserve, it could be time to look at other companies. If you receive a job offer from a company for 15% higher pay than what you currently make, that gives you the power to either leverage that offer with your current job or make the switch if that’s what’s right for you and your career.

    Asking for a raise is never easy, but it’s something that most professionals have to do at least a few times in their lives. Prepare your case thoroughly, present yourself well, and be ready to negotiate. You’ll greatly increase your odds of success.


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