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How to Ask for a Raise

Asking for a raise is never easy, even when you think you are well-deserving of one. In an ideal world, your successes will be noted without having to point them out and supervisors would be eager to recognize your success and provide you with a generous monetary reward.  But this is the real world, remember?  Your boss is often scrambling to meet deadlines and objectives and is more likely to focus on the “squeaky wheel” that may threaten to derail the whole train.  It could be that you ARE valued and doing a GREAT job!  But, as is often the case in relationships, we don’t always give people the positive feedback that feeds them.  In darker scenarios, your boss may be reluctant to give you credit in lieu of taking more for him/her self.  In either situation though, you often won’t get the credit (or compensation) you deserve unless you explicitly ask for it.

If you decide that you’re overdue and it’s time for you to take the plunge, here are a few tips that might assist you in approaching your employer for a raise.

Do your research- What are others in your field and/or with your qualifications earning? What is the company’s gross income/average salary? This will give you a ballpark range of an appropriate figure to work with.

Aim a little higher than your ideal salary, because your employer is likely to negotiate that number lower. It doesn’t hurt to aim high and land low (within reason). Obviously, asking for an outrageously inflated salary will probably do more to harm than help you. Shoot for around 15% increase, maximum.

Sell yourself– Have valid points as to why you deserve a raise and keep them objective. Show the facts and the numbers and, if applicable, show how they relate to increased revenue or profits. Employers don’t always see all the work that you are putting in behind the scenes, but if they have your achievement statistics and are able to track your progress, they will have more reason to reward you.

Be polite, yet direct– Beating around the bush will get you nowhere, but neither will being too pushy or demanding. It pays to be considerate, thankful and complimentary. (I.e. expressing appreciation for the opportunities you have been granted thus far, exhibiting a high level of commitment, keeping the employer and company interest in mind, etc.) That being said, your main objective is to earn a raise, so don’t get too caught up in the niceties and lose track of your primary intention.

Time it appropriately– You don’t want to ask for a raise when big company layoffs have just been announced!  It is also not a good idea to ask for a raise within the early days, weeks or months of joining a company.  Wait until you are well-established and have a proven track record of performance and contribution.  At or after a positive annual review would be an ideal time.  It’s also best to ask at a time in the work week that is relatively low stress. If your employer has a million other things on their mind, the last thing they want to think about is giving you more money.

Walk through the fear– Be confident. The worst they can do is say no. However, if the salary they are offering is too low for you, you must be prepared to walk away.

Asking for a raise is a risk, but one worth taking if you truly think you deserve it. After all, if you truly are providing clear benefit to the organization’s objectives, culture and bottom line, you will always be in demand in the open marketplace.

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