It’s a new year. Maybe it’s time for a new (bigger) paycheck.
Money isn’t everything, but it can go a long way toward feeling valued at work. That said, asking for a raise isn’t always an easy task, even if you’re sure you deserve one. There are many considerations to be made before popping the question.
Your best chance of success comes with preparation. Take some time to get prepared with these strong arguments as to why you deserve that raise.
1. Do your homework.
Whether or not you negotiated your salary when you were hired, it’s wise to take some time to do your homework before asking for a higher wage now. You need to understand a fair market value of your skills, taking into consideration your job role and responsibilities, your geographic location, and industry trends.
In other words, if you’re a sysadmin for a family-owned retail organization in the Midwest, don’t base your raise request on salary data for the average cloud architect at a tech firm in San Francisco. At best, it will be difficult to justify your request. At worst, your manager will turn you down based on the number alone.
The average raise is generally around 2-5%. Calculate a reasonable number and practice your pitch before you enter the room with your manager. If you’re asked about how you came to your amount, you can justify it with research — and the other arguments below.
2. Perform at the top-tier level in your current role.
The best argument for your raise isn’t really an argument at all, it’s simply your performance. Before you even consider asking for a raise, make sure you’re working up to your best potential.
Have you made your goals clear, and met or exceeded them? Do you take on more responsibility without being asked? Can you demonstrate how your work directly impacts the organization? Perhaps you spearheaded an upgrade project that reduced recurring costs or fixed a bug before a customer could see it.
Before asking for your raise, make sure your performance is top-notch, and be ready to talk about it. No, you don’t always have to be the first person to arrive and the last person to leave, but you do have to have an argument as to why you’re indispensable to the company. And the basis of that explanation centers on your performance.
3. Focus on your accomplishments, not finances.
Now that you’ve developed an argument for your raise that links your outstanding performance to your compensation request, make sure you focus on that — the reasons you deserve a raise in the first place. Don’t be shy about communicating your success, and also show that you are striving even higher with long-term goals.
You very well might have personal life reasons inspiring you to ask for a raise, like expecting another child, a spouse who got laid off, or an increase in your housing costs. But avoid bringing up these personal details during salary negotiations. Your personal expenses are your business, not your employer’s. Use arguments that communicate why you deserve the raise, not why you need it.
4. Get the timing right.
Timing is everything, including when it comes to this topic. If it makes sense, dedicate a regular one-on-one with your manager to requesting a raise. But consider objectively whether this is actually the best time to have the conversation.
Does your manager usually rush through your meetings, suggesting that you should create a dedicated session just for this conversation? Is it a particularly busy season at work, indicating that you’d have better odds waiting for the off-season?
Additionally, you might have a better chance for a “yes” if you ask for a raise soon after a big accomplishment. Your performance will be fresh in the decision maker’s mind.
5. Prepare for a “no.”
Even when you’re armed with these strategies for asking for a raise, there’s still a chance your employer might simply turn you down. Maybe you’ll get actionable feedback to allow you to be better prepared for next time you ask, but it’s certainly possible you won’t. So decide beforehand what you will do if you get denied. Will you stay in your role, or start hunting for a job with the higher salary you want? Will you ask for an alternative to a salary increase, such as a more flexible schedule, new hardware, or paid training and certifications?
Don’t take a “no” too hard. There simply may not be room in your company’s budget for a raise right now. Even if it doesn’t work out this time, incorporating these arguments for a raise will set you up for success — and potential financial gain in the future.