Point blank, taking the initiative to ask for a raise is hard.
Although the stigma around asking for raises has slightly lifted over the past few years, it can still feel like an intimidating task — especially if it's your first time. Once completed, it can be empowering... but getting there is usually the hard part.
If you're questioning how to correctly ask for a pay raise (What do I say? How much should I be asking for? What do I do if they say no?) we have some helpful tips.
Know and Prove Your Value
Understanding your worth is the bread and butter of helping you make your case to finally get that raise.
You can research what other people in your position at the same or similar companies are making, and compare it to what you're making right now. If you notice that your salary is a little under the mark comparatively, you can use that for leverage when asking your boss. Websites like Glassdoor are helpful for this.
"Know what you're worth before you even go in and ask the question," says Jean Chatzky, a personal finance expert and CEO of HerMoney.com.
In addition to knowing the worth of your position in a general sense, it's equally important to know your worth as an employee. What do you add to your work environment that sets you apart? Whether you've contributed to the success of a specific project, crunched a deadline faster than anyone else, or have other success stories at work you feel proud of, be sure to mention them to your boss when asking for a raise. It'll make all the difference when your boss is coming to a decision.
Rehearse Your Pitch
Don't go into your meeting with your boss unprepared. Think of this meeting as a business presentation — this is your chance to show your boss how much you deserve this raise!
You could write down your points on flashcards and rehearse them beforehand, or even propose your case to a friend in a mock interview-style fashion and ask for constructive feedback. Knowing what you'll say will help you feel more prepared, and will help you appear more confident to your boss.
Have a Backup Ask
Why is asking for a raise so scary? Well, there's always a possibility your boss will say no.
Regardless of the reason behind their "no," you can always negotiate for other things, like more vacation time or sick days. And, in an ever-changing global pandemic where life takes unexpected twists and turns, that could be even more valuable than a raise for some.
Trina Patel, financial advice manager at money management app Albert, says that in a time like this, many companies understand the pressures and struggles employees and employers alike are facing. "Employers understand this is a difficult time, and while their hands may be tied on your salary, they may be willing to work with you,” she says.
Timing is Everything
Try to ask at a time of year when you know your employer is already evaluating and negotiating roles and salaries.
Lainie Messina, the regional coaching director for RWJ Barnabas Health, also suggests being mindful of your boss’ schedule when asking. For example, asking at 5 p.m. on a Friday is probably not the best course of action. "If your boss is an early morning person, try to be one of the first things on her calendar," Messina says.
Leverage Another Career Opportunity
If you're set on making a certain amount, seek other career opportunities that align with your monetary goals. When you give the news to your boss about another offer, there's a chance your boss will offer to raise your salary as a means of convincing you to stay.
Pitch New Ideas
Another way you can sell yourself when asking for a raise is to present some ideas you plan to implement in your position in the future. Maybe you’ve had some new ideas you’ve wanted to run by your boss, but never had an opportunity to do it — now’s the time. This can help give you that edge in your pitch for a raise.
"You've got to come up with bold, disruptive ideas if you want to get ahead in your job," Kate White, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine, told Hoda and Jenna.
Don't Tell Your Boss the Meeting is about Money
It's also advisable to not tell your boss outright that you're asking for more money. "Instead, set up an appointment with a title like, “review of goals” and frame the conversation as wanting to check-in to see if you are both aligned regarding your performance and career ambitions," Messina says.
Don't Be Afraid
"You’re not going to get fired. Don’t worry about it. Step up and ask, because if you don’t ask, you don’t get,” Chatzky says.
Overall, approaching the conversation with the confidence (not cockiness) that you deserve a raise, and proving that point in your case to your boss, will help you immensely in the long run.