How to Ask for a Raise
We’re trained from childhood not to discuss money. Still, if you don't ask for a raise, you could be cheating yourself out of a bigger paycheck. So, if you’re doing your job and believe you deserve more, the smart thing is to ask.
But wait a minute, even if you’re certain you’re ready for a raise, your boss may not be ready to give you one. If you ask for a raise at the wrong time, you might dissuade your manager rather than making a case for your value. So start by asking yourself three questions, beginning with "Have you been there long enough?" Unless you’ve been told otherwise, you typically need to hold the job for at least a year before asking for more money.
A second question concerns the status of the company. If it’s going through a major organizational change, it’s not the time to ask for more money. Even though cutbacks may require you to do the job of two or even three people, money is likely to be tight. Plus everyone else has had to double and triple up as well.
The third question concerns you. How well are you doing? Are you just getting by or are you exceeding expectations? Just getting by is unlikely to get you more money.
If your responses to all three questions are in your favor, do your research. Become familiar with your employer's pay practices, such as how often a pay raise is typically given. Research the pay rates for your job. Network with colleagues in other organizations to determine your salary competitiveness. Review your employee handbook, so you can follow the process exactly.
Then, prepare your case. List all the things you've accomplished beginning with the recent and working backwards. Document how your accomplishments have helped the company: costs savings, productivity improvements, projects achieved, and so on. Emphasize ways in which you have contributed more than your job required.
In addition, list your skills and any responsibilities you have added to your job. Then decide what size pay increase you’ll consider adequate, taking into account the going rate for your job, how much experience you have, and, of course, how much you need the job.
And now you’re ready to schedule a meeting with your boss. Present your case confidently, knowing you went into it well prepared. If you don’t get a raise this time, ask what you need to do and by when to stand a better chance next time around.
Dilbert never hesitated to ask for a raise, so why should you? Of course, in his case, it didn’t get him very far.
What can you do to improve your own odds of succeeding?