In today’s economic environment, it’s important that your employer is paying you full value for the service you provide. Though asking for a raise can bring a boatload of nerves with it, asking for what you know you’re worth is a large part of respect; both for yourself and what you earn from others. If you approach the situation calmly, with facts and figures in hand, and a positively proactive attitude, even if you don’t succeed, you will have won a victory of manhood.
It takes guts to ask for what you want, especially in the face of possible rejection. There are only a few very easy to remember tips to take in hand when it comes to answering the question of how to. The rest are just details that you can work out to best suit your employment situation and relationship dynamic within the workplace.
A lot of your successes in this area are going to rely on adequate planning and preparation. Don’t go off half-cocked, because you’ll fail to achieve your goal nine times out of ten and likely get burned for your pains.
Having solid figures, a firm idea of what you want to say and how you’ll say it, and a willingness to negotiate or wait for another opportunity are going to pay off in this, as in many endeavors.
1. Planning and Research
Before you ever open your mouth and ask your boss for a raise, do your research and plan your strategy. Remember, you’re literally putting your paycheck down as a stake in this game of salary negotiations. The things you will want to know beforehand are facts and figures such as:
• What are other people in the industry in which you work earning for the same position, duties, and experience?
• What’s your employer’s track record and policy for awarding raises in general? If they usually award a set percentage following an annual review, you’re likely to be unsuccessful at negotiating a raise at any other time.
• Have specific figures firmly in mind. An even numbered figure can appear to be something you just plucked from nowhere, which makes you look sloppy.
• Set up a specific meeting time. No employer enjoys impromptu versions of this discussion.
• Do you really warrant a raise? Be brutally honest with yourself. It’s better to work to better yourself and impress your boss than stick your neck out when you haven’t got a snowball’s chance of getting what you want. At the same time, don’t downplay your legitimate contributions. Everything counts.
2. Aim High
Assess the value of what you bring to the company and aim a bit higher. Most employers will attempt to negotiate you down from your opening bid. During your research, when you know what you feel you should be earning, add a little more to offset appearing to give ground in any negotiations. Then, you can comfortably “split the difference” when your boss names a lower figure between the salary you want and the one you’ve named.
Assuming you’ve done your research within the industry to figure out what everyone else is making, don’t just settle for the lowest salary out there. Regardless of everyone else’s experience in relation to their pay scale, if you can match or exceed their performance, and have spent a considerable amount of time at your workplace, you should value yourself higher. It does not matter if your job pays $30,000 a year as an industry standard, because if you can prove yourself to more attractive, resourceful and beneficial to the company that figure will go out the window.
Most of the time the first number you put there will get turned down, which means you really have to be on the ball when it comes down to price. It’s much like any other negotiation process or situation out there. The number you want isn’t always going to be the number you get; unless of course you had pre-planned out a strategy out beforehand.
By firmly understanding your worth, and actually being realistic as to how much you contribute to a company, you can successfully navigate your way towards getting a raise. But if you’re an average employee that doesn’t stand out, you’re going to be selling yourself on something you don’t or can’t deliver. Figure out what your value is, what you want your value to be, and then ensure that a higher paycheck is fitting for what you do. If you haven’t done anything to boast about, or are simply assuming the longer you stay on the job, the more you will make, then you are going to have a tough time supporting yourself with a solid reason to make more money at work.
3. Be Specific
Be prepared to name your specific figure that you arrived at during your research. This shows your boss that you’ve put time and effort into researching what pay is feasible for the job you do. Also, when you are sitting down with your boss, don’t bring anyone else into the discussion as a yardstick. Avoid using language like “deserve” or “at least”. Present a calm assessment, not a plea bargain. Above all, keep the discussion positively focused.
4. Positive Suggestion
Market yourself as a valuable Employee who enjoys working for the company. Be prepared to outline both the reasons that a raise for you is warranted and your recent achievements for the company. When planning your optimum strategy, you’ll want to ask yourself at least some variation of the following questions:
• Have you exceeded the expectations your employer set when you were first hired?
• Have you brought the company business or clients through an initiative of your own design? If so, what are those figures?
• Have you spared resources for your company through efficiency or novel redesign strategies? Again, have those hard numbers at your fingertips.
• What projects have you accepted that exceeded the requirements of your position?
• Are you a team player who has saved someone else’s bacon at a moment’s notice by covering for them?
Don’t be shy about listing your contributions. While this is not the time for arrogance or highhanded language, it is the perfect opportunity to shine for your boss, especially if you usually accomplish your work quietly and without fanfare. It’s best to bring any concrete documentation of your contribution that you have in order to press home your value. These can be charts, graphs or spreadsheets documenting your impact for the benefit of the company.
Perhaps most importantly of all, never make ultimatums about your salary. This is likely to get you fired at worst. At best, it will sour your employer’s attitude towards you for quite some time. Then it will not matter how awesome you are.
5. Prepare to Renegotiate
It often happens that your request for a raise is met with a “no”. That doesn’t mean forever, but it does mean for now. Suggest that you work together to determine a more opportune time to revisit the conversation. This may be three or six months in the future. Then, be ready to hit the ground running. Between your initial meeting and the next time you discuss options, you’ll want to go at your job hammer and tongs. Don’t give anyone a reason to deny you a raise a second time.
6. Avoiding the Chopping Block
If you really aren’t ready for a raise in pay, it’s generally a good idea not to initiate the process. If they’ve been unsatisfied with your work for any reason, your employer might see such a move as a great excuse to get rid of you and hire someone else. Rather, you should feed that desire for a bigger paycheck into working to earn it. You might even consider asking your boss if there is any specific way in which you might contribute to the success of the company. Concentrate on making yourself worthy of the raise you want.
Whether or not you are successful during your first meeting, diligent planning and preparation have just earned you another try at some point in the foreseeable future. Your boss will both appreciate a professional and positive meeting and respect you more for presenting and defending your own value to the company. These negotiations are a part of the valuable experience you are accruing towards building a dream job, and are helping to shape a strong, confident, and independent man.