Requesting (and Receiving) the Raise You Deserve

First things first — when is a good time to ask for a raise?  Coming off a strong performance review in which your boss acknowledged your accomplishments is a good bet, because he will probably be expecting you to broach the subject of money.  If you've just taken on a new role, or your management has raised the bar for your performance, it is perfectly legitimate to ask for an appointment to discuss “compensation commensurate with new responsibilities”.

Before you sit down with your manager, you'll want to be prepared with a list of contributions that have enhanced the bottom line.  As you're putting together your case, be hard on yourself.  Look at the situation from your company's point of view.  Have you honestly acquired such valuable skills, performed at such a high level, and exceeded expectations to such a degree that your company should shell out more money to keep you?

When scheduling the meeting, pick a time when your boss's stress level and workload are as manageable as possible and tell her what you want to talk about so she's prepared.  An informal setting like lunch often works best because it allows you to relate to your manager on a personal level.  Before you meet face-to-face, decide on a number that you'd be satisfied with, and think about how you'll respond if you don't get it.

Here are some tips for the conversation itself:

  • If you're underpaid and you know it, refrain from complaining.  Acting bitter or angry will only put your manager on the defensive.
  • Remain calm, positive, and professional.
  • Tell your boss how much you enjoy working at the company.
  • Talk about your performance in a factual manner, and provide concrete examples of how you add value to the organization.
  • When it comes time to pop the question, use the word “compensation” rather than “raise” or “money”.

In the event that your boss declines your raise, don't close your ears to the rest of the discussion.  She may be willing to offer you other perks instead, like extra vacation time, flexible hours or a nice dinner with your significant other on the company.  These concessions may not be as valuable as cash, but they can come in handy for somebody struggling to afford the good life outside of work.

Raise discussions are never easy for either party, and if your boss is the passive-aggressive type, he may tell you what you want to hear simply to get you out of his office.  Make sure that you follow up appropriately on any verbal promises he makes, and if possible, secure an effective date for your increase.  The issue is not closed until you see the change on your paycheck!

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Doug
Doug
13 years ago

As a manager, I would like to add one more point. Know when your company or department evaluates its budget for the following year and ask for the raise before that point.

It is significantly easier to handle a raise when I can include it in the budget, versus squeezing it in after the fact.

If your company is like ours, performance reviews are actually done about 1 month after budgets have been finalized for the following fiscal year. Does it make sense? No…but that is how it works.

junger
junger
13 years ago

One piece of side advice: always, always know what the going rate is for your work. Don’t let your employer get off paying you under market value (even if you like working there).

Obviously, don’t threaten to leave if you don’t get a raise, but make it known that comparable positions at other companies are compensating better.

SingleGuyMoney
SingleGuyMoney
13 years ago

Great advice. I will definitely remember this when I go ask for my raise.

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

Remember asking for a raise or increased “compensation” is a negotiation. so treat it as such. Never go into a negotiation empty handed and without options. Don’t be afraid to shoot for the stars if your performance merits it. You should always have an acceptable compromise ahead of time, though. I would keep telling my wife she should ask for more, because it was clearly obvious the company valued her more than she realized. Her company was very stingy, though, and would only give her a little raise when she asked after a performance review. However, in her final negotiation… Read more »

Alexandra Levit
Alexandra Levit
13 years ago

Hi Everyone, just wanted to thank you all for your great comments…so smart and thoughtful! It has been a blast guest-posting on J.D.’s awesome blog and if any of you have suggestions for another post that would gel well with my expertise, I’d certainly welcome them.

Best,

Alexandra Levit
Author, They Don’t Teach Corporate in College
Blogger, Water Cooler Wisdom
http://www.alexandralevit.com

AW
AW
13 years ago

Good advice. I would add that you’ll want to get as realistic of an idea as possible for the level of compensation of your peers within your organization, as these are the people who you are going to be judged against the most. Try to come up with how your “Productivity vs. compensation” ratio ranks against other coworkers. It’s hard because you rarely know much about how others are paid, but you can sometimes get an idea. I would also caution against sites like salary.com and such. Unless you are in a major industry in the heart of your city,… Read more »

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