Are you underpaid? Ready for a change?
Asking for a raise isn’t easy and preparing to ask can be nerve-racking. When should you ask for one? How much should you ask for? What do you even say?
The most important thing to remember when asking for a raise is that the only reason for asking can’t be because you need a raise. It should be because you deserve one. But, it’s on you to prove that your actions have led to success, and will continue to do so in the future. An employee doesn’t get a significant increase in pay just for doing the minimum—he or she must go above and beyond.
On that note, here are our top four tips for negotiating a raise.
1. Start Preparing on Day One
To begin with, figure out why you deserve a pay raise. If that question is difficult to answer, negotiations aren’t going to go very well. You start figuring that out the first day on the job.
Many people only think about raises at the end of the year, or after a certain amount of time has passed. However, if you start thinking about a future raise on that first day, you can start collecting accomplishments early on. Create goals and an actionable plan to meet those goals. While traveling on your career journey, keep a journal of all professional successes, preferably with metrics and details regarding how each met goal furthered the company as a whole.
Remember, your manager isn’t giving a raise expressly for your benefit—a raise is given to keep an employee as an asset to help the company in the long run. So, if you can connect your performance to achieved business goals, a raise may just be in the cards.
2. Timing is Everything
In order to really succeed with a request like this, you need to ask at the right time. If you work in oil, for example, and the market suffers a setback, don’t ask for a raise. The same thing applies to a company that’s going through financial or PR difficulties.
If it’s the company’s busiest time of the year, that’s another bad time to ask. Same goes for just after you’ve been on vacation or taken time off. And try not to bring this up after making some sort of mistake, no matter how minor.
3. Know the Market for Your Position
This ties in with asking yourself whether you deserve the raise or not. Read the papers and research online to find out what your competitive rate is at similar companies. Are you already earning that same rate? If so, you may be working at the cap for your position.
In that case, see if anything major really makes you stand out from the competition. Are you expendable? If so, become an asset. Losing you should not be an option. Raises are given to retain top talent. If the company isn’t the right fit or you aren’t actually top talent, a raise may not be in the cards.
But being top talent in and of itself doesn’t mean a raise is certain. You have to be on time, an excellent employee, and using that talent to further the company every minute you’re on the job.
4. Bring a Plan and Be Confident
What do you plan on bringing to the negotiating table? If you answered nothing but a smile and a well-worded speech, think again. Prepare an actual presentation. Know your worth and properly articulate any strengths, as well as details regarding tasks that were not only completed, but elevated to the next level. In other words, be confident.
Avoid being arrogant. Tie all accomplishments back to how they helped the company, not you. Don’t walk in assuming a pay hike is a given. Be confident in past successes, and let that lead where it may.
As a bonus, try to include some sort of physical, tangible element to the presentation, whether it’s a printed summary or printed charts and graphs. Include information about how you have saved the company money, or how your actions led to an increase in revenue or production.
Although the goal is for your manager to read these materials, even if they don’t, they’ll still see them on their desk and remember your request. Conduct the entire meeting in a calm manner, and, once it’s over, let your manager know that this is a two-way conversation by asking them for feedback on future projects.
If your manager declines to give a raise, don’t be afraid to ask why. If the reason has anything to do with factors you can control, make those changes so you will be a prime candidate in the future.
Reasons You May Not Get the Raise
Even if you follow all of these tips, it is important to note that you may not get a raise due to external factors that have nothing to do with performance. These include:
- A slow market
- A recent downturn in the economy
- A different raise structure (your company may have a rigid raise structure in place that does not allow for deviation)
- Downsizing in your department
- You are a relatively recent hire
Have any more questions about the salary negotiation process? Let us know about it in the comments below!