10 Secrets to Asking for a Pay Raise
Negotiating a salary increase is part art and part science.
Let's tackle the science part first. You may think you're due more money, especially if you stood by an employer during the recession, picking up the slack after colleagues were laid off and forgoing salary increases because money was tight.
Now that the economy is improving, you're ready to start making what you're worth, right?
To persuade your boss, though, you'll need to do more than ask. You have to make a presentation of your case showing concrete evidence that you make a difference. That could include sharing details of how you made or saved the business money or improved productivity, says Lee E. Miller, a veteran human resources executive turned career coach and author.
Once you've done the homework, you can move on to the subtler side of negotiating for a raise -- the art of knowing when to ask. Don't approach the boss the day after the company loses a big customer, or if your performance has been off, says Miller, author of Get More Money on Your Next Job...In Any Economy. Wait until sales are up or the business just landed a major account -- especially if you helped land it.
"People who get raises are people who deliver results. Most bosses have no clue what you do, so the only way they know is if you tell them," Miller says.
Here's what else Miller and other career experts suggest doing if you're looking for a salary bump:
1. Be good at what you do. If you're even thinking about asking for more money, make sure you're working hard and getting the job done. You're not going to land a bigger paycheck if you're not earning it.
2. Know your value on the job market. Pinpoint the current value of your work using websites such as Glassdoor, PayScale and Salary.com to research typical compensation for other people in your position. Visit the career pages on other companies' websites to see what jobs are available. "If there are a lot of jobs open for what you do, it's a great time to ask for a raise," Miller says. "If nobody's hiring, it's not a good time to ask. One of the reasons companies give people raises is if they're afraid the people will leave. Companies know that if they don't treat you fairly, you have other options."
3. Be prepared to pounce when the time's right. Collect supporting evidence before approaching your boss, then sit tight until the time's right. When it comes, request some quiet, uninterrupted time with your supervisor. Depending on their management style, that could be a conversation over lunch or dinner, or a formal presentation in their office.
4. Stick to business. Don't bring up higher expenses or other personal reasons for needing more money, says human resources blogger Allison Green in a U.S. News & World Report story. Employers pay people based on their value to the company, not on their individual needs.
5. Get your boss in your corner. Once you've stated your case, choose your words carefully. Instead of saying "Can I have a raise?" say "How can you help me?" The latter puts both you and your boss on the same side, Miller says.
6. Set your sights high. When it comes to negotiating, most people aim too low, writes Selena Rezvani, author of Pushback: How Smart Women Ask and Stand Up for What They Want, in a recent HuffPost story. "Always start with an outcome that would delight and thrill you, not simply satisfy you," she says. Ask for the most you think you can get within reason, to give yourself room to negotiate.
7. Take no for an answer. Despite your best efforts, your boss's answer might be "No." Accept it, but not without extracting a promise that the two of you will revisit the question in three or six months. Ask what you can do until then to improve your chances of getting a "Yes" the next time. "Because once they say something, they become committed to making it happen," Miller says.
8. Ask for more than money. Sometimes companies can't approve a raise because of restrictions on personnel budgets. But they may have money to spend on training, conferences, new computers or software, or other perks. Or ask to be put on a high-profile project or team, where you can gain exposure that could be good for your career and future salary negotiations.
9. Aim high. One sure path to a substantial raise is a promotion. If you're interested in climbing higher up the corporate ladder, let your supervisor and HR department know. "Then they get invested in helping you," Miller says.
10. Always be in the job market. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. Attend conferences. Keep up with industry groups in person and online. It'll help you understand what you're worth, and you may get unsolicited job offers that you can leverage with your boss, Miller says. "We all want what other people want, so when your boss knows that you're a loyal person, they'll be much more open to your requests for more money."
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