Learning how to get a raise requires understanding many factors, including your performance, the company’s finances, the overall economy, and your approach.
You can’t control the economy, and company profits usually don’t respond to the actions of a single worker, so to get a pay raise, you may want to:
- Deliver a strong personal performance
- Gather evidence of your effort
- Pitch the boss with confidence
Use this guidance to learn how to get a raise:
1) Set goals for your work
When managers decide who gets a pay raise, they try to gauge who has met or exceeded their expectations. You may want to review the objectives for your role and break them down into achievable short and long-term goals. If you are in sales, for example, you could target a number of phone calls or client visits to complete in a week and then track new sales generated.
Seeking out education such as certificates or degrees that are valued within your field can also demonstrate achievement.
Setting goals can put you on the path to achieving success that will help you stand out when raises are considered.
2) Keep track of your achievements and praise
Did a colleague thank you for extraordinary effort or cite your work as standing out? Save those notes either digitally or on paper so that you can mention them when you request a raise.
3) Research salary and pay to identify what is a good pay raise
Web sites such as Salary.com and Glassdoor.com provide data on how much people earn in various jobs. Your employer also may post a salary range for specific roles, which can tell you if you are near the top or bottom of what is offered.
4) Don’t be afraid
Fear of rejection can hold you back. Don’t let it. About 84% of those who ask for a pay raise get it, according to a 2017 survey by recruiting software company Jobvite.
You may get a yes, but even if you don’t, you will land on your boss’s radar, and the conversation may help both of you understand each other better.
5) Need motivation? Remember that a small pay raise now can mean a lot more later
Carnegie-Mellon University Economics Professor Linda Babcock emphasizes that even small pay raises can add up to big amounts over time. Every employer will ask your current salary to determine what to offer you, so a pay raise now can deliver higher salaries as you change jobs.
A pay raise can also increase the amount your company contributes to your retirement, allowing you to benefit from not only additional funds but the compound interest they earn over your work life. Babcock estimates that people who don’t negotiate their pay may lose out on $1 million or more in earnings over their lifetimes.
6) Time your request for a pay raise wisely
Conventional wisdom suggests that you wait at least one year before asking for a raise, a rule that may be smart to follow. There can be exceptions. Any time you win a promotion, for example, may provide an opportunity to ask for a pay raise in line with your new responsibilities.
Try to keep an eye on your boss’s calendar to find a time when he or she may be less busy. The middle of the workweek may be preferable to a meeting on Monday or Friday, when people may still have their minds on the weekend.
7) Consider the state of the economy, your industry and your employer
Recessions, or even the anticipation of them, can limit pay raises. If the economy is weak or your company is performing poorly, you may be less likely to get a pay raise. Waiting for a stronger period may increase the odds.
8) Line up supporting evidence
Your manager probably can’t hand out raises to everyone, so you may want to prepare a set of facts supporting your request for more pay. List progress toward agreed-upon goals and document your complimentary emails or company awards.
9) Recruit support
If a colleague consistently commends your work, you may want to ask her to put in a good word for you with your boss.
10) Remember, it’s a conversation, not a demand
You likely should ask your manager for a meeting to discuss your performance and pay. Consider starting by sharing the work you are proud of and explaining your achievements. It may help to be as specific as possible. For example, saying, “I reduced our inventory costs by 5% by negotiating better prices from two suppliers,” can make your value to the company clear. In contrast, a more general statement such as “I helped cut costs” may not be as effective.
After noting your accomplishments, you may want to say that you would like to get a pay raise. You can cite a specific number or use more general language such as, “I notice that the pay range for this job ranges from (use numbers from your research.) I’d like to ask that my work this year be considered for an amount closer to the top of that range.”
The right language depends on the personalities of you and your boss and on company culture.
Most experts recommend avoiding language that sounds like a demand, which may sit the wrong way with many employers.
11) Practice, practice, practice
Many people feel nervous when asking for something. Before you make an appointment with your manager to discuss a pay raise, you may want to practice the conversation with a close friend or colleague who will be willing to challenge your argument.
Practicing may help you speak more comfortably when you do meet your manager and allow you to anticipate questions and prepare answers.
12) Put it in writing
You may want to create a list no longer than a single page of your achievements. This makes it easy for your manager to remember your argument and creates a document that can be shared if approval from others is necessary.
13) Listen carefully to feedback
You may get an easy yes to your request for a raise, but if you don’t, listen carefully to your manager’s response. You may learn that your manager expects even more than you are delivering or that budget-cutting means there is no money for raises this year.
If you are turned down, you might suggest that you would like to revisit the discussion in a certain amount of time such as six month.
14) Keep the focus on your work, not your personal life
Life events such as a divorce or the arrival of a new child may drive your desire for a raise. Leaving them out of the request for a raise may improve your odds of getting what you want. Managers generally want to reward people for their work and may find personal situations distracting.
15) Have a backup plan
If tight budgets are an issue, consider asking for a one-time bonus or a few additional days of vacation instead. If your manager agrees that you have performed strongly, he may be willing to find some way to compensate you even if the budget is limited.
16) Avoid ultimatums
You may be ready to leave your job if you don’t get a pay raise, but don’t share that information with your manager. It may feel like a threat, which can be counterproductive.
Also, you may not be prepared to leave, and you don’t want to be forced to follow through on a promise you didn’t mean. Some employers also have policies that say they will not give raises simply because an employee has a better offer elsewhere.
17) Try again
If you don’t get a pay raise, set your sights on trying again. Identify new goals, incorporate any feedback you received from your manager and work towards a higher income down the road.
With careful planning and preparation, you may be able to improve your work, develop a stronger relationship with your manager and get the raise you deserve.