Do you want to earn more money? Of course you do, and there’s a good chance you could be earning more. According to a new report by Glassdoor, you probably deserve a raise, especially since 3 out of 5 employees did not negotiate their salary when they first started their job.
Some employees make the mistake of expecting a company to just give them a raise.
“They assume that once they start working at a company, ‘As I build my skills and build my value, the company will recognize that and give me more money,’ ” said J.T. O’Donnell, founder of WorkItDaily.com. “And that’s just plain wrong; that’s not how it works.”
That means you need to be proactive—which can be daunting. The good news is there are several things you can do to prepare yourself to ask your boss for more money.
Do the research
You’ll want to know what other people in your job are earning, so look up the average salary for that job in your area. According to Sarah Reynolds of Salary.com, there are two types of salary data on the web: employee-reported data and company-reported data.
Glassdoor reports the average American worker could earn $7,528 more per year, using data 1.3 million workers voluntarily submitted, but you can’t use a national average to get a raise because local market rates are very different. The same job in San Francisco and Jackson, Miss., will likely pay very different salaries.
Reynolds said compensation professionals do something called “scoping their data, which means they only look at the geographic location where their business is located, look at the industry that they’re in and look at the company size that they’re in.”
Giving yourself a range of pay for your position helps you know where you stand in your local industry. Print that research out and bring it with you to your meeting with your boss. You won’t want to ballpark it.
Niya Allen-Vatel, founder of ResumeNewbie.com, suggests researching the pay range for the positions directly senior and junior to yours.
“If you are a project manager, or an assistant project manager, knowing what the senior project manager’s range is or any team members around you will give a benchmark to know what they’re willing to pay for your position.”
Focus on your accomplishments
“In good markets and in bad markets, the way to get a raise is always the same,” said Connie Thanasoulis, founder of SixFigureStart.com. “You make the case for why you’re worth it.”
Collect your accolades. If you have emails from clients or coworkers praising your work on a project, bring that along with you too. Thanasoulis said if you’re planning to ask for a raise, you could even reach out to clients you have a good relationship with and ask them to write something positive about the work you’ve done together.
Allen-Vatel said you have to make it clear that you deserve the raise. “You need to prove you deserve this raise. Knowing what your impact has been up until that point to argue for that.”
Throughout the year, you should talk to your boss about how your skills and your work are contributing to the company.
“There should be three to four really good reasons or one whopper of a reason,” Thanasoulis said. “Maybe the top client only wants to work with you, you know, whatever that is — don’t sleep on it.”
“You have to outline for your employer all of the good things you’ve done to help them ease their pain.”
Practice, practice, practice
It might feel awkward, but practicing what you’re going to say with a friend or mentor will make you better at actually saying it to your boss.
“Confidence and practice can go a really, really long way to making you feel more comfortable about that conversation,” said Reynolds. “It shouldn’t necessarily be this scary thing, but the way that you get around that is by practicing.”
Thanasoulis suggests asking a friend to practice giving you negative feedback so you’re prepared to hear your boss say no.
“You have to act confident, even though you’re not,” said Thanasoulis. “Any kind of negotiation is a risky thing. You have to proceed with caution.”
Prepare for any scenario too. If you give your pitch and your boss offers less than you expected, you might want to push back a little. But be careful of how you phrase your response. Allen-Vatel offered this phrasing.
“While that offer is generous, and I appreciate you considering that, I would be more comfortable with this amount, and here’s why.”
Should you tell your boss in advance?
We received conflicting advice from career coaches about whether to let your manager know ahead of time what you want to talk about.
J.T. O’Donnell, founder and CEO of WorkItDaily.com said blindsiding your boss by setting up a meeting without saying why is an “old school” method to start. She would rather her employees be upfront and open.
“The boss is going to be more prepared,” O’Donnell said. “If you’re cryptic about it — ‘I need to set up a meeting with you’ — you know what I’m thinking [as a manager]? You’re resigning.”
Connie Thanasoulis disagreed.
“I think you have to ask for a meeting, and I would not explain why,” said Thanasoulis. “It gives you control of the conversation because they might go in and do some research. I would keep the element of surprise.”
Don’t ask too frequently
You won’t always get a raise when you ask, so you want to make sure you ask at the right times.
The Fiscal Times’s Janna Herron says don’t ask too often.
“If you asked for a raise and were turned down within the past six months, consider waiting another half-year before asking again, according to the findings from Paysa,” Herron wrote. “Three in five managers said asking for a raise more than once a year was too often, while a quarter said asking for more than once every two years was too frequent.”
Make notes of feedback you receive in your meeting. If your boss offers ways for you to improve your work, work diligently to improve those skills.
Business of one
“The first time you ask for a raise, it might not go anywhere, but you’ll have the confidence to do it again when you’re more prepared or when you have better evidence to use in that discussion,” said Reynolds.
Stop thinking of yourself as the employee and your boss or company as the employer. O’Donnell suggests instead you think of yourself as business of one.
“If you want that employer to be a long-term customer, then you need to be strategic. Always be working on that relationship, always be talking about your value, always be on the same page about what you want and what their needs are. That’s how you build that win-win.”
And if your company does agree to increase your pay, make sure you get that agreement in writing from everyone involved, including your company’s payroll department.
If you can’t get more money, don’t be afraid to ask for other benefits: an extra week off, more flexibility to work from home or even for the company to pay for you to take a course to improve your skills.
Have you ever asked for a raise? Take our poll.