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How to Ask for a Raise & Get It

Posted on 18th September 2019 by Parker Bridge

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Research from our latest salary survey found that two in five people have never asked their manager for a raise, even though half of the respondents wanted a higher salary. The reality is that many people find talking about money uncomfortable even if they are well overdue for a pay increase.

The most common reason people shy away from asking for more money is the fear of damaging their relationship with their manager. However, assuming money would be the only reason you would become dissatisfied in your role, it is in your boss’s interest to ensure you are being paid fairly. This is because finding and hiring your replacement is a time-consuming and costly exercise.

If you feel that you are being underpaid and want to ask for an increase in salary, there is a right way to approach it. Here are our five tips on how you can ask for a raise and get it.

Discover How Much You’re Worth

The first thing you should do is to research how much professionals in your field are earning. Whitepapers, such as the 2019 Market & Salary Report, can provide you with an idea. That said, most salary guides will provide a broad salary range that is usually dependant on factors such as job experience, role complexity, the risk to the business and supply versus demand. You should also review what benefits professionals like yourself are receiving so that you can decide whether to include them in your request.

Next, you should identify how much value you bring to your employer. Think back to what you have achieved recently. Have you improved business performance or sales, or won any internal or external awards? Including this information when you ask for a raise will increase the likelihood of receiving it. If you are struggling to find anything noteworthy, you may need to plan and work towards improving your individual performance before you approach your manager.

Know When to Ask

When it comes to asking for a raise, timing is crucial. There are several best practice tips around when to approach asking for a salary increase. The first is to avoid asking when your manager is under pressure or during periods of high-stress, such as year-end for example.

Secondly, if your employer provides raises once a year, find out when this occurs. These decisions are usually decided in advance so plan to speak to your manager one or two months before this date. If this does not apply, then the best time would be just after you have completed some work to a high standard, or your manager has recently been very pleased with your performance.

The final point is more on how than when, but it is just as important. Avoid asking by email and instead request a one-on-one meeting with your manager so you can prepare beforehand.

Prepare Before You Ask for a Raise

It is a common misconception that you will need to provide a detailed presentation on why you deserve a raise. Your meeting will likely be a short, five-minute conversation so it is important to plan out what you want to cover. You should address why you think you have earned the raise and include your recent achievements. Mention factual information such as percentage increases or sales figures and avoid personal information. This will help to keep the emphasis on why you deserve the raise.

We also recommend that you avoid mentioning what your colleagues earn entirely. Even if you know a colleague earns more, it is best to focus on evidence that proves you deserve the raise on your own merit.

Have a Specific Figure in Mind

To increase the likelihood of receiving an offer, make sure you have a specific figure in mind before you go into your negotiation. Professors from Columbia Business School found that asking for a precise figure, instead of a round number, can give you an edge. Their research discovered that putting forward an exact figure such as $65,500 over $60,000 led to respondents receiving a better ‘counter-offer’ if the answer was no. Ensure you do your research first so that you avoid providing an unrealistic figure.

What to Do if Your Manager Says No or Maybe

Do not be surprised if your manager replies with “maybe” or needs some time before they can respond. It is likely that your boss will need to get approval first or need to think about it. The best thing to do is to get clarity on the next steps and when you can expect to meet again.

If the answer is no, then this would be a perfect opportunity to ask what you can do to earn a raise for the future. Your manager might respond with suggestions such as taking on new responsibilities, increasing your overall performance or learning to work more autonomously. However, it is important to assess their response and decide whether this is something you can and want to achieve. If the answer is no, then it might be time to review your options outside of your current employer and seek the advice of a recruitment expert.