Want a Raise at Work? Try These 5 Tips

The Cheat Sheet

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Most workers would be happy to receive a raise, but some employers won’t give one unless you ask for it. Although many big companies do annual reviews of all employees, a regular raise based solely on inflation will probably not get you where you want to be financially in the long term. You may have to put your brave face on and approach your boss to ask for a raise.

Before you do so, be sure you deserve that raise. If you’ve only been at your company for a few months and you are still learning everything, now might not be the right time to ask for one. However, if you have been working harder than ever for a long time and you have been doing so consistently, now might be a great time to ask for a raise. If you are ready to approach your boss, read on to learn some tips about how to properly ask for the raise you are hoping for.

1. Pick the right time

Depending on your boss’s personality, a big part of his or her decision may be based on your timing. You should request a meeting to discuss your recent work, and you can bring up your request at the meeting. Do not simply ask in an email or spring your request on your boss during a meeting that is supposed to be devoted to something else. You will also have a better chance of success if you time your request based on what you know about how your company is doing financially.

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If your boss just let go of twenty people and you are lucky to have your job, now is not the time to ask for a raise. Also, if you just lost a client or messed up in a serious manner, don’t ask for a raise. However, if you are aware of a rise in profits, this might be the perfect time — particularly if you directly helped raise those profits. If you’ve already reached the maximum pay for your position, you may need to ask for a title change instead.

2. Know what your job should pay

One of your strongest bargaining tools for a raise will be fair market pay. You can ask people in your company who perform a similar job what they are making if you have that kind of relationship with them, but many people will feel uncomfortable about this. In addition, you can’t just go to your boss and say, “Joe Schmoe told me how much he makes, and I should make that, too.”

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Not only will that make you look irresponsible, but you could get your coworker in trouble. A better bet would be to research your position based on where you live. You can use websites like Salary.com or other sites that compare job pay. Some human resources departments might be willing to talk to you about the base starting pay for your position, and many companies have different job levels with set minimum and maximum pay bands.

3. Be fair in your request

Once you know how much your job position pays, you can tailor it to your unique responsibilities. You should also factor in how long you have been at the company, how many years of experience you have in your field, and how long it has been since you last got a raise. The average base pay raise for 2014 is 3 percent.

Although you may want to ask for more than 3 percent, you shouldn’t ask for something unreasonable, especially if you don’t have the evidence to back up your request. An 8 percent raise might be completely justified if you were hired under market value, but a 20 percent raise request would need to have serious evidence to back it up.

4. Collect evidence to support your request

Saying you deserve a raise with no support will not earn you a raise. In addition, it will make you look greedy and unappreciative. Eighty-four percent of employers expect employees to ask for a raise, even though only 41 percent of Americans actually ever ask. Your boss is probably expecting you to ask eventually, so if you gather support to prove why you should receive a raise, you may be set for a more successful meeting.

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Document ways in which you have been successful, including big projects you have played a pivotal role in, and especially direct ways in which you have helped your company make more money or become more visible. Be confident in your request, but not cocky. Never threaten to leave if you don’t receive the raise. A better idea is to go ahead and interview at other companies if you are considering leaving — that way, if another employer makes you an offer, you can present it to your current boss and ask them to match or top it. However, you should only do this if you are really prepared to leave if your boss refuses to give you a raise.

5. Have a backup plan

If for some reason your boss is annoyed that you asked for a raise, you should find out why. Be direct. If your boss believes everything you said and wants to give you a raise but mentions the financial position of the company, etc., you should respectfully ask when you can expect a raise. You can also ask if a bonus would be possible, or a position title change. If you can’t expect a raise in the immediate future due to budgetary concerns but you think you truly deserve one, you may need to start looking at other companies. On the other hand, if your boss says that you haven’t been working hard enough, ask for concrete examples. Document your progress in the upcoming months and request another meeting to evaluate your progress. Take your boss’s advice seriously: The best way to ensure you get a raise in the future is to improve your performance.

If you are new to your job but hope to earn a raise soon, there are many ways you can increase your chances. One of the best ways you can impress your boss is by having a positive attitude. Within reason, accept all requests from your boss with a good attitude. Also, take on more responsibility whenever you can, and volunteer to help others when you have the time. You can also improve your chances of a better job title or a raise by advancing your own knowledge about your company, as well as by taking classes or completing certifications that will help you achieve the position or pay that you seek.

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