How to Ask for a Raise

  •    Kelly is a freelance SEO consultant based out of Washington D.C. She has worked for Philadelphia marketing agencies and writes for several lifestyle sites.

Money and compensation is a delicate subject even in the best circumstances, which can make asking for a raise an awkward or stressful experience. If you are uncertain about your pay raise, you may be anxious to negotiate it with your manager. However, preparation is key to overcome your nerves and achieve success.

Step One: Do Your Research

When negotiating, having facts on hand is a surefire way to boost your confidence and prepare you for any questions or hesitation. Doing market research is a great way to come loaded with data and figures to back up your request.

Take a look at the most recent salary data from your industry and see if your current salary matches the market rate. You can use this information to land on a ballpark number for a raise or a trajectory path to meet market standards.

In addition, take a look at the industry standard for pay increases. In general, a 1-5% annual raise is standard, and some industries set a percentage for merit-based raises.

Step Two: Outline Your Past Accomplishments

If you’re asking for a raise, you’re most likely not an employee who does the bare minimum. It can be extremely helpful to come prepared to a negotiation with your accomplishments in your current position. Have you helped increase sales, decrease turnover, or increased efficiencies in your department? Anything you can highlight as a win will be helpful in highlighting your worth to your manager.

You can also use data outside sales numbers to prove your case. If you have emails or references from clients or colleagues, as well as consistently positive performance reviews, these can all be used to support your request.

Step Three: Paint a Picture

Your past accomplishments are vital to proving you’re worth the extra money, but spelling out the future is also important in a raise negotiation. You have to be able to demonstrate that you will work above your current level to earn the raise you’re asking for.

There are many ways to show how your future employment will positively affect the company. Figure out a long-standing roadblock or issue and outline exactly how you plan to fix it. Show how you and your department will directly impact the growth of the company over the next few years. Offer to take on additional responsibilities to save the external hiring of another employee.

You can also include how this raise and additional work will benefit you personally. Outline your career goals and how you plan to achieve them within your company.

What Not to Do

Planning is the key aspect to asking for a raise, but there are also a few things to avoid:

  • Don’t Complain. Acting unsatisfied with your manager or how the company is run will not only cost you a raise, but it will also likely get you terminated.
  • Don’t Whine. Don’t whine about doing more work than everyone else--show how much work you do and its impact.
  • Don’t Ignore Timing. Pay attention to, or ask around about, the company’s financial status. If there have been recent layoffs or budget reductions, now might not be the best time to ask.

    With these tips, asking for a raise might not be any less nerve-wracking, but it may be more successful!