Asking for a raise is never easy. In fact, that chat ranks right alongside “Can I marry your daughter?” and “Listen… We need to talk” as one of the most nerve-wracking conversations you’ll ever have. But it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is run through this de facto checklist and you’ll find that daunting discussion has turned into a low key tête-à-tête. So read up and relax. You’ve got this. And if you’re on the other side of the table, be sure you know the 7 Ways Smart Bosses Handle the “Raise” Question.
DO: Come equipped with a figure.
Before you ask for a shiny new (i.e., higher) salary, you should walk into the room knowing exactly what your position is worth on the open market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes figures each year. Or you could also check out crowd-sourced options on sites like like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Salary. Base your figure off that. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to walk in with some extra self-oomph, so be sure you’ve mastered the 20 Daily Self-Confidence Boosters for Getting Ahead at Work.
DON’T: Come equipped with an egregious figure.
Don’t walk in expecting the meeting to result in your firm slapping an extra two zeroes on your paycheck. A surefire way to scare your boss off even considering giving you a raise is to put up a wildly unrealistic number. According to Mercer, the world’s largest HR consulting firm, the average raise for an American office worker is about 8 percent of total annual compensation.
DO: Wait for the perfect moment.
If you’re asking for a raise, make sure to time your request perfectly. Nancy Fox, president of The Business Fox, a business consultancy group, told Business Insider that the best time to ask for more compensation is after a work streak where you’ve really stepped up your game. Maybe you’ve picked up recent responsibilities and have deftly handled the additional workload. Or maybe your recent efforts have directly led to increased revenue for the company.
DON’T: Do it when the company is underperforming.
On the other hand, according to Fox, there’s a definitive time where asking for a raise is utterly verboten: When your company’s on the downswing. Even if you, personally, have been crushing it, if your firm’s not doing so hot, hold your tongue, and wait until things are looking up again.
DO: Frame the conversation around the future.
Okay, now you’re in. The next step is making sure you say the right words. “I shouldn’t have just said, ‘I’m doing a good job for you,’ but rather, ‘Here’s what I’ve been doing and here’s how it’s going to get you to your end goal this year,” one VP of operations told Harvard Business Review.
DON’T: Simply state your accomplishments.
In other words, if you’re in finance, don’t bring up how much money you’ve made the firm; bring up how much money you think you can make. If you’re in law, don’t bring up how many cases you’ve won; bring up how many cases you think you can win. Then, frame your potential future work as additional responsibility—which it is—and mention that you think it’s worth more compensation. (Which it is.)
DO: Look polished.
Treat the meeting with your boss like you would, say, a job interview: Appearances matter. “Come to the meeting dressed like you care,” asserts Dayne Steele, author of 101 Ways to Rock Your World: Everyday Activities for Success Every Day.
DON’T: Dress casual.
No matter how casual the dress code is.
DO: Tailor your accomplishments.
Obviously, you’re planning on walking in with a list of your accomplishments. (Right? Because, if that wasn’t item number zero, chances are, you don’t deserve that raise.) But according to Anita Attridge, a career coach and organization development consultant, there’s a little trick that will make your good deeds seem more like great deeds: Base them off your manager’s inclinations. If, for example, your manager wants to improve the number of clients, but doesn’t care much for how well those clients do for the company, be sure to shine the limelight on how you’ve brought more clients into the fold.
DON’T: Threaten to leave.
Under any circumstances—even if it looks like the meeting won’t go your way. And if you have other offers, don’t use those as leverage that you’ll leave, either. (For the record: Yes, a competing offer great leverage, but not to be played within the context of a threat.) “You run the risk of your boss mistrusting you,” Lynn Taylor, a career coach and the author of How to Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant, told Forbes. “Or, in the worst case, [they might say], ‘Maybe you should consider those offers.’ ”
DO: Ask for endorsements.
Having someone in your corner can go a long way. If you’ve helped out someone who isn’t the person approving your paycheck, see if they’ll shoot your boss a note about how awesome you are. “One of the most powerful ways to demonstrate to your manager that you deserve a raise, or at least some form of recognition for your results, is to have other people endorse the work you have done and how it helped them,” says Attridge.
DON’T: Get emotional or visibly angry if you get turned down.
Even if you’re angry, it will only hurt you to convey those feelings.
DO: Take your boss out for a round.
Definitely don’t buy your boss a drink prior to any meeting of this sort; you run the risk of appearing to attempt a quid pro quo—a huge quid pro no-no. But if you get the raise? Spread the love! And if you want to score even more bonus points, order one of the 7 Drink Orders Guaranteed to Impress the Boss.
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