The Best Way To Ask For A Raise

By Danielle Bilbruck

how to ask for a raise

Most of us have been there: crunching numbers, looking at bills and expenses, realizing that the truth is simply that you need more money.

Now, there are a couple of ways to go about getting more money, including getting started with a side hustle, which we’ve covered in a past blog. But what happens if you simply don’t have the time for a side gig, or that you’ve evaluated your situation and realize that having a side gig could actually cost you more money? Well, then we’re back to square one: you have one job. You need to eke out more money from it.

Asking for a raise can be an intimidating thing. But while the decision is going to remain largely in the hands of your boss, it doesn’t have to be so intimidating…as long as you’re prepared. Is this a guarantee on getting that raise, as long as you follow our process? Absolutely not–and no guide or process is guaranteed. Just know that following this process ensures you’ve done what you needed to do to maximize your earning potential in the ask:

  • Evaluate the why. Why do you need a raise? Because I don’t have enough money to pay my bills, is not a good answer. If you tell your boss that you need a raise simply because you need more money, you may be laughed out of the office or given a spreadsheet to start effectively managing a better budget. Your employer is likely paying their people based on performance…not on individual personal need.No, you must know why you deserve a raise in the first place. Have you been working on things that are higher than your pay grade? For how long? Have you been doing the work of more than one person? For how long? Have you added something of value to the company? Have you made something? Saved something? Achieved something? For how long?Notice the “For how long?” questions here: if you’ve only been doing more work for a few weeks, or even a few months, you may not have a case built for that raise. If you’ve been going on more than six months doing extra work, that’s a good thing to write down.
  • Understand your timing. If you’ve been at the company less than a year, it is not practical to think you would be given a raise. Do you know if there is a time when evaluations are typically done, or when raises are typically given? If so, don’t ask before that time–start building your case now so that you can ask at that time.
  • Be able to demonstrate your value. What tangible value can you show to your supervisor to prove that you’ve been a necessary asset to your company? Again, think about what you’ve made, saved, or achieved: did you create a new process for how work is done? Did you save the company money with a new process or with a better decision? Did you achieve any kind of honor within your department, with clients, or with the company as a whole?Begin building your case and write things down. To simply come in and say that you’ve saved the company money may not be believable: show evidence of the things you’ve done, and be prepared to show that evidence to your employer as well, as well as to answer questions about the evidence you’ve provided.
  • Know that this is likely a negotiation. Be prepared with two numbers: your “sweet spot” and your “floor.” What do you want vs what will you accept? These numbers are important because you may get a raise–just not the one you asked for. Know what you are willing to walk away with, satisfied, before you even ask the question. If you’re prepared, you may not need to be afraid of negotiation in the first place.When you’re coming up with your numbers, don’t be afraid to take a look at salary guides from recruiters or other salary information online that most closely mirrors your position. However, remember that salary information is a range: your company might be on the higher or lower end of that range. Know that part, too.
  • You might hear “no.” If you do, decide in advance what you will do. If you are turned down, do you want to know why? Maybe it’s something to do with your performance that you can solve and ask again in a few months. Maybe there’s something going on at the company that requires them to sit tight with current salaries for the time being. If you get those reasons, you can determine what you want to do next: are you going to wait it out and keep working hard? Are you going to start looking for a new job? Know before you go in.

IMPORTANT: Do not ever tell your employer that you plan on leaving if you don’t get a raise. Moreover, do not ever try to leverage another company or another offer against your employer. The statistics don’t lie: fewer than 15% of people who try and leverage other offers or accept counteroffers from their current employer remain there for more than six months, and with good reason. Don’t lose the war in an attempt to win the battle.

No, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you can, too. Keep a level head, prepare well in advance, and know your strategy from start to finish!