By Kristen Harris
In life, you often have to ask for what you want. You might not get everything you want but asking for it certainly helps. And asking for it in the right way really increases your odds.
Let’s say you’ve been working in a role for a while and things are going really well. You feel like you’re excelling at the job, taking on increased responsibilities, and creating value for your employer. So you’ve decided to ask for a raise.
You want the raise, and believe you deserve it but aren’t sure how to ask for it. How do you approach your employer? What should you ask for? What happens if they say no? Often, when people go into these conversations unprepared, they’re disappointed in the outcome.
You can greatly increase your odds of success by preparing for the conversation. Don’t just pop in your boss’ office and say “hey, I want to be paid more”. Since you’re the one asking for the raise and initiating the conversation, take all the time you need to get ready.
(By the way, if you’re freelancing or working independently, at some point you’ll want to increase your rates. These tips can also help you prepare for that conversation with clients.)
There are four key steps to preparing for a “raise” conversation:
Do Your Research. Collect as much information as you can about your own role, your progression within the company, and similar roles at other companies. How long have you been in the role? Have you received raises in that time? If so, at what time points and how much? Look at your job description–what additional responsibilities have you taken on? How does that compare with similar roles within your company and at other companies? Research the pay range for your role within your company and at similar companies. It’s kind of rude to ask your peers what they make, but there are plenty of online resources to find accurate salary information these days. How well is your company doing financially? If it’s seasonal, is this the “good” season or the “slow” time of year? Has your company recently gained (or lost) clients?
Organize the Information. Organize your research, then identify the best 3-5 points to make your case for a raise. What you select is going to be unique to you and your position, but things like additional responsibilities, progressive growth, and comparable pay at other companies are good things to look at. Be sure to consider the overall health of the company and how your role fits into future success. Show that you’re thinking big picture about the company and its overall success, not just about yourself. Prepare your notes–actually write down your top 3-5 points–in preparation for your meeting.
Make Your Case. Don’t just pop in one day on the fly, schedule a meeting with your boss or the decision-maker. Now you know that person has set aside time for you, and you’re more likely to have their undivided attention. Start the meeting by telling them you’d like to discuss a pay increase. Then share those top 3-5 points you’ve researched to help make the case for why you deserve it. Keep it factual, realistic and non-emotional. Then ask for their feedback and listen to what they have to say.
Accept Feedback. Their feedback is valuable, regardless of the answer. If they say “yes” then congratulations–you’ve made a great case and got what you wanted! If they say “no” or “not right now”, ask questions and really try to understand their reasoning. Ask what you can do to earn the raise you want, and when an appropriate time would be to bring it up again. Talk about a plan or how you can take on more responsibilities that allow you to prove you’re worth more.
These pay conversations can be difficult because they often feel like conversations about our self-worth. They’re not. The only thing you’re talking about is what the company can afford to pay you for the work that you do, and how you might be able to earn more. If you can’t get a raise right now, you’ll get valuable information on how to get one in the future.
You can’t always get what you want (thanks, Rolling Stones) but preparing for the conversation can make it go more smoothly and increase your odds of success. Working with a professional can help things go more smoothly too. We’re always happy to help our placed talent navigate these tricky conversations–just ask.