Your career is one of your most important financial assets. And knowing how to ask for – and get – a raise at work is one of the most important things you can do to grow your net worth.
Unfortunately, it’s also one of the top things employees fear doing the most.
Why Are We Afraid to Ask for a Raise?
1. We fear our bosses.
In fact, 65% of Americans would rather get a new boss than get a raise, according to Forbes.
2. We hate talking about money.
Why? Because money negotiation always feels like confrontation. And we don’t do confrontation! Look: Any type of negotiation is confrontation, but it doesn’t have to be confrontational.
3. We lack the confidence to promote ourselves and our accomplishments.
Many find it hard to toot their own horn and point out their achievements and accomplishments. But if we don’t do it, who will?
How to Ask For and Get a Raise at Work
The good news is that we can overcome these fears that hold us back, and gain the confidence needed to ask for and get a raise. Here’s how.
1. Make a list of all your accomplishments.
These can be recent contributions or over time. Employers are more often likely to give significant raises or promotions to employees that have a history of good job performance, overdeliver on important tasks and projects, and are known as the go-to guy or gal.
2. Find out how much your position is worth.
Before you ask for a raise, you need to know what others in your job/industry are making. There are some great online resources that can help you do the research, like Payscale.com and Glassdoor.com. But you can also check the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, your state employment agency, trade associations in your field, etc.
3. Consider the relationship with your boss.
Is your relationship formal or informal? Do you need to make an appointment (and tell him or her why you want to meet) or can you just walk in at a moment’s notice and start talking? How will your boss react to your request for a raise? Will he or she be receptive or defensive? Your judgment here is extremely important, because you’ll want to approach your boss in a way that will lead to positive success.
4. Look at how well your company is doing financially.
Is this a time of growth or cutbacks? Confidence or uncertainty? If your employer is cutting back, or hesitant about the prospects for growth in the short term, your timing in asking for a raise may not be right. But keep reading, because there’s a lot more to ask for than just a raise!
5. Clarify what you want to ask for, and create a plan of action.
Get all your facts down on paper regarding why you deserve a raise, and how much you want to ask for. Try to aim high within a realistic range. Pick a time that will be the most advantageous to talk with your boss. As mentioned in #4, you can negotiate a lot more than a financial raise. Consider negotiating benefits and perks like vacation time, flexible work hours, stock options or tuition reimbursement.
6. Broach the subject professionally.
When you ask your boss for a meeting to talk about a raise, your approach should be positive and not threatening in anyway. Do it in a way that makes you sound like a team player who loves your job and company.
7. Be prepared for all possible reactions.
After you’ve said what you came to say, be ready for how your boss will react . . . and how you will respond. If they say . . . .
- “Yes, you can have a raise.” Wipe your sweaty brow and say, “Whew, that was easy!” Actually, just say, “Thank you.”
- “I need to talk to others before we can make a decision.” Thank them and make sure they know that you appreciate their support of you and your contributions to the company. Important: Ask if you can follow up with them again in a week.
- “No, we can’t at this time (for whatever reason).” You’ll need to anticipate these reasons and come up with positive, but firm responses. Ask about other options for making extra money with the company, additional ways you can better prove yourself, or training you can receive from the company that will result in a higher salary or promotion. Also, as mentioned earlier, consider negotiating benefits and perks, such as vacation time, flexible work hours, stock options or tuition reimbursement.
8. Be prepared to move on.
If your boss does not give you the raise or promotion (or other benefits) you asked for, and it appears like your prospects for getting one any time soon are slim to none, perhaps a company change is in order. Years ago, the surest way to advance your career was to work your way up through one company or industry throughout your lifetime. Today, some are more likely to move up the ladder in salary and responsibility, within their career field, by moving strategically from one industry to another.
Knowing how to ask for and get a raise is one of the most important financial skills we can learn. We can do it with confidence when we’re prepared, know what we want, and have a plan of action.
When was the first time you asked for a raise? How did you do . . . and how did it go?