Rounding it up
Approaching your boss with confidence and evidence of your value is key to success.
Carefully leveraging outside job offers can help secure an otherwise unobtainable raise.
In addition to a raise, workers should negotiate for better benefits and more time off.
How To Ask Your Boss For A Raise
Asking for a raise is one thing, getting the raise is a whole different issue. Most people get stuck on the first part because they’re scared of being seen as “dissatisfied” or “asking for too much”. Majority of employees who deserve a raise don’t ask for one because they feel their hard work is enough to get them noticed. But the unfortunate truth is, you will almost never get more money if you just wait around for it—you need to be proactive about the conversation, approach your boss with confidence, and let the impact of your work shine throughout the negotiation.
How to Negotiate a Raise
Getting cold feet about negotiating for a raise? Here’s what you should know about negotiating with your boss, and why advocating for yourself is a crucial professional skill.
Document your accomplishments
Begin by assessing your worth to the organization. This will look different in different portfolios, but as a general rule, start by mapping the impact of your day-to-day work to the KPIs and business goals of your organization. Show, rather than tell. Start a document to record your wins and highlights, and make sure you don’t lose sight of how your accomplishments are adding value to the company.
Research the typical salary range and compensation benefits for your role
The next step is to conduct research on typical wages in your industry, as well as the specific wages that are being paid to others in your company and at competitor organizations. That being said, remember that asking around for payment details is both a sensitive and potentially misleading decision; those around you may be underpaid themselves, so don’t solely base your salary expectations off what your coworkers are earning. Remember you will not get multiple raises throughout the year, so you want to be strategic about asking for enough to justify the additional responsibilities you will take on as you grow in your role.
You should also understand that your worth isn’t merely reflected in your salary alone. There are other perks your company can and should offer you to maintain your loyalty. Remember that angling for a better benefits package is effectively another way to ask for a raise, or to enhance a raise by adding additional benefits on top.
One comprehensive guide from U.S. News & World Report illustrates that asking for benefits, sign-on bonuses, and more vacation days usually works out in a worker’s favor. By negotiating for a “total package” of all of these at once, you enhance your odds of achieving your goals.
Leveraging an outside offer
One of the most commonly relied upon tactics when negotiating a raise is to leverage an outside job offer. By showing your boss that other employers are ready and willing to pay you better wages elsewhere, you can convince them that enhanced compensation is the only way to retain you at the company.
According to the Harvard Business Review, leveraging outside job offers generally produces results when seeking a raise. In addition to giving workers a newfound level of psychological confidence, outside offers convince employers that they need to maintain competitive wages or risk suffering from costly turnover.
In short, an outside offer makes your request for a raise or a promotion seem more legitimate, as you have an actual offer from elsewhere that you can act upon if your request is denied. When bosses are aware that you possess alternative employment options, they’re less willing to gamble with your continued loyalty.
Approach negotiations with confidence
The most important thing to remember when negotiating with your boss for a raise is that confidence is the key to eventual success. Many workers simply lowball themselves and ask for a salary that is far below what an employer would be willing to pay. Data suggests that women are less likely to ask for raises (and get raises) than men, which may contribute to gender inequality in pay.
What should be clear for all to see is that it’s impossible to secure a serious raise without the courage to ask for one in the first place. Additionally, those who are currently interviewing elsewhere should be honest and aim high when asked about their salary expectations. You should always tell employers what you believe you’re truly worth, even if that figure is substantially higher than your current level of pay in your present position.
Preparing a list of recent accomplishments will serve a dual purpose. First, it will help you secure the courage needed to approach an authority figure and demand something from them. Second, it will serve as valuable evidence during the negotiation; if your boss asks why you deserve such a raise, citing those accomplishments as concrete evidence bolsters your claim.
If you’ve recently been given additional responsibilities, especially because other team members quit or got sick, you can leverage that during the negotiation. Point out that you’re contributing more to the company now than ever before, yet your compensation hasn’t changed to reflect this new reality.
The Don’ts of Salary Negotiation
There are certain tactics that should be avoided at all costs when asking for a raise. In the worst-case scenario, which is truly rare, asking for a raise improperly could lead to your termination.
It's a mistake to assume that a raise will lead to a fundamental change in every aspect of your life. While some job opportunities will truly change your life forever, many raise requests are routine elements of professional life that will lead to a higher annual income but relatively few immediate changes to your material standards. So don’t get too excited about a substantial change in your living situation just yet. Thinking about a raise in this manner also ensures you’re not extremely disappointed if you don’t get one.
You should also recognize that not every request for a raise will yield success. Don’t believe your boss bears a grudge against you simply because they denied your raise; in the midst of an economic recession and slow recovery, many business owners will be honestly incapable of paying their workers more without collapsing into financial ruin.
Finally, remember that you shouldn’t make the conversation of a raise all about you. You need to prove it to your boss that paying you a better salary is in the best interest of the company. Once you’ve convinced your boss that better wages are an investment in the workforce rather than a frivolous expense, the battle is nearly over.
Climbing to the top of the dogpile
It’s not easy to get ahead in the modern economy, but asking for a raise is a great first step toward financial security. Too many workers delay asking for a raise until the opportunity has passed.
Don’t join the legions of poorly compensated workers who fail to recognize their own worth; prepare yourself carefully before asking for a raise and you’ll soon be climbing the career ladder to new heights.
Ryan Severance is a professional freelance author and the owner of American Scribe LLC. With degrees in political science and socio-legal studies, he writes about business, politics, and law for clients around the world.