Asking your manager for a raise can be nerve-wracking, so much so, that some people wait for months or even years before asking for a raise they deserve.
This guide will cover: preparing to ask for a raise, how/when to ask for and justify your raise, the right questions to ask, negotiating with your manager and recovering from an unsuccessful ask for a raise.
How to Prepare
You should never ask for a raise without preparing for this conversation. No matter how good your relationship is with your manager, they will be expecting you to prove that you deserve the salary you’re asking for and won’t respond favorably if it seems like you did not prepare.
Before broaching the subject of a raise, always:
Build your Case: Look back to recent projects and periods of time where you went beyond what was expected and provided real value for your company. Always use specific performance data when possible.
Know your Worth: Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth™ salary estimator gives you a clear idea of the raise you should be asking for, by giving you an objective figure to compare your current salary against.
Just enter your job title, location, years of experience, and a few other pieces of information to get a free, personalized estimate of what the market value of your skill set is. This way, you can both understand if you’re getting paid fairly and have a concrete number to bring to the table when it comes time to negotiate your salary.
When to Ask for a Raise
Picking the right time to ask for a raise is just as important for preparing for this discussion.
When picking a good time to ask for a raise, find out when your company’s fiscal budget planning takes place so you can be sure that you aren’t asking for the impossible.
A few great times to ask for a raise are:
Annual Performance Reviews: A natural time for this conversation may be at your annual performance review, when the topic of salary is not only timely, but often expected.
After Completing an Important Project: A great time to ask for a raise is after successfully completing an important project or showing excellent work.
When your Manager is Happy: Asking for a raise during of a stressful or hectic period will guarantee that your manager is short on time and patience. Wait to ask for a raise until the dust has settled and you have, once again, proven your worth.
What to Say to Get a Raise
After preparing your evidence for why you deserve a raise and choosing a good time to talk to your manager, it’s important to think about what you’re going to say during your raise conversation.
An easy way to begin a raise discussion is to say something like: “As I’m looking forward to working and growing with the company, I’d love to discuss my salary.” Or “I’m interested in discussing my salary, is now an appropriate time?”
Mention your desired salary number and specifically outline how you came to this conclusion. Bring a copy of your Know Your Worth salary estimate. Also, be clear about when you’d like your new desired salary to be effective, and any other details that are pertinent to your desired compensation.
How to Act
How is an employer going to feel comfortable giving you a raise if you’re unsure yourself?
Expressing gratitude and appreciation for what you currently have at the company is a gracious and professional preface to an ask for more money.
Sharing excitement for your future goals, and for the future goals of the company, is a way to show you’re invested in doing your job well.
How to Justify Your Raise
Justifying your desired salary will be accomplished with specific examples of work done well.
- Use specific, recent accomplishments and the value you’ve brought to the company as reasons for why you deserve the salary you’re proposing.
- Quantify your value with data and awards/accolades so you can demonstrate more tangibly how you’ve contributed to your company’s bottom line.
- Present the points for your justification for a raise in a logical, compelling way.
- Respond to questions from your manager about your raise logically and tactfully to further justify your request.
Important Questions to Ask
Asking questions of yourself and your manager is important for getting the raise that you want.
Is the raise I plan to ask for truly reflecting the value that I bring to this team and company?
Is the raise I want realistic or will I be asking for compensation beyond my experience?
What are the new responsibilities that will come along with this raise?
Will this raise involve managing or reporting to new colleagues?
If a raise isn’t possible at the moment, when will it be possible?
Following this raise, what will be required to advance even further in my career at this company?
What to Expect
If you have chosen an appropriate time to ask for a raise and have built your case for a raise with specific evidence of your great work, you should expect your manager to give your proposal serious consideration.
You should also expect:
Questions: Expect some direct questions about the accomplishments you’re using to justify your raise, your plans for your future at the company, as well as the classic, “Why do you think you deserve this raise?”
Negotiation: You will probably have to negotiate on the specifics of the raise you are asking for.
Compromise: You may not be able to get the raise you want today, but a compromise will help you take a step in the right direction. Make sure that any promised or conditional future raises you discuss are documented in writing.
How to Negotiate More
When a manager’s proposal for your raise doesn’t match the salary you objectively deserve, it’s time to negotiate for more.
These 5 steps will guide you through this negotiation:
- Set your expectations. You may not be able to get the salary you want immediately.
- Do your homework so your manager doesn’t have to. Establish your target salary and the accomplishments and accolades that justify this salary.
- Start the conversation. Start a conversation with your manager to begin working out how to reach your target salary.
- Set a goal and establish a timeline. Establish specific goals on a timeline with your manager for reaching your desired salary.
- Work with your manager to reach your goal. Make sure to meet your goals and that your manager is paying close attention to your progress.
What to Do After a Raise Conversation
After having a raise conversation, it’s crucial that you sustain or even exceed the performance levels that you are using to justify your desired salary.
It’s also crucial that you and your manager are on the same page about any new responsibilities that are coming along with your new raise, including:
- New deliverables.
- New colleagues to manage.
- New superiors to report to.
- New performance standards.
How to Recover from a Failed Raise Conversation
Sometimes, there will be no room in your company’s budget for a raise. When this happens, it’s important to recover gracefully and to set yourself up for a successful raise conversation the next time around.
Make a Plan
If you can’t get the raise you deserve now, set up a plan with your manager with a specific time-table and specific goals for you to reach your desired salary.
Ask for More Perks
If there is no way that your salary can be increased now, you can still get better compensation for your work by asking for more workplace perks, like:
If you have any more questions about asking for a raise or calculating the salary you deserve, here are some related articles we’ve written on asking for raises.