How to Ask for a Raise

Make sure you know how to ask for a raise before you approach your boss.  Every company is different, but it's not uncommon for the best pay raises to go not only to people who've worked hard, but people who know how to ask for a raise. What do they know that you might not? That a little preparation goes a long way toward making your case.

The Best Time to Ask for a Raise
No matter what your reason is for asking, you'll improve your chances of getting a raise if you approach your boss at the right time. How do you know if it's the right time to ask for-and get-raise?

You're in a good position to ask for a raise if your company's just completed a financial quarter or fiscal year that where profits and growth exceeded projections. Conversely, if the company took a hit or profits have been steadily declining, you'll want to wait until the dust from the most recent financial reports settles.

Has your boss been talking up the work you've been doing or championed a project or initiative you brought to the table? If so, you're in a favorable position to approach him or her to discuss additional compensation. Anytime you can leverage your increased visibility in the workplace, you're in a good position to ask for a raise.

Other signs that it's a good time to ask for raise include:

You're nearing your annual review and have exceeded your goals. Although you may expect to be offered raise during your review, spend some time evaluating how much your contributions are worth. Your boss already expects to discuss your compensation, so take advantage of the opportunity by being prepared to tie your accomplishments to a dollar figure.

Your last raise was less than expected, but you were told the gap would be addressed later. Don't wait until your annual review to bring this up with your boss, but do wait a reasonable amount of time before initiating a discussion. If your boss puts you off, be sure to ask for scenarios that indicate it's time to pursue the topic further and schedule a future meeting to review personal or company progress.

You're approaching a milestone. Achieving five- and ten-year anniversaries with companies often carry weight when it comes to raises. If you're approaching this or another kind of milestone with your company, consider using your company loyalty a negotiating point when you're discussing compensation. Investing in existing employees often outweighs the cost of recruiting, hiring and training new ones.

Prepare for Your Meeting
Depending on your company structure, you may need to do a little or a lot of research to present the best case for receiving a raise and prepare yourself for the inevitable negotiation. The first step is determining a salary range that's acceptable to you, including the minimum percentage you're willing to accept.

Next, if your company structures salaries based on general job responsibilities and titles, see if you can find out what the top and bottom salaries are within your assigned job grade so you know where your current salary lies. This information can help give you an idea of how much give there is within your current job grade. You may need to negotiate a promotion in order to move up on the company's pay scale.

You may also want to research comparable pay rates for you position within the industry. Check online salary calculators or network with other industry professional who have similar skills, experience and responsibilities, taking into account that the salaries in your local area carry more weight than elsewhere.

Make a list of your accomplishments over the last quarter or quarters or the previous year. Be sure to include details around how your responsibilities or job demands increased, and any revenue you brought into the company as well as any cost savings realized. You should be able to speak to the facts as well as demonstrate how you managed your goals for the year and specifically met or exceeded the company's expectations.

Finally, don't blindside your boss. Ask your boss to schedule a meeting in advance to discuss your performance and your compensation. Even if your office has an informal environment, you want to treat the subject of your salary with the seriousness it deserves. The more professional you are, the better you'll be received. If you tend to trip over your words, consider writing your request down on paper and rehearsing your words before the meeting.

During the Meeting
Above all, don't rush through the meeting. Relax, speak slowly and with confidence. You might feel nerves getting the best of you on the inside, but your boss doesn't need to do that. Speaking too quickly or not giving your boss time to respond are signs that you're anxious and may give off the impression that you don't really believe you deserve the raise.

Be assertive in your communications with your boss, but don't cross the line and get aggressive. Make your points calmly, but firmly. Confidence is key. Even if you feel yourself getting angry, don't give in. If you come across as disgruntled, belligerent or antagonistic your boss will be less open to what you have to say.

Provide your boss with a written list of your accomplishments, contributions, sales figures and cost-savings. The more hard numbers you can provide, the easier it is to prove your case. Hold onto the comparable salary rates in your head and use them only if you need to.

Next, it's time to name your price. Ask your boss for a raise that's slightly or moderately higher than your desired number. You want to give both sides room to negotiate, but put yourself in the more favorable position.

After the Meeting
Be patient. Give your boss time to consider your request and review all the information you've presented. Don't expect an immediate answer, but do ask to schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss the matter further at a time that's mutually convenient.

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