How to Ask for a Raise (and Actually Get One)

how to ask for a raise

Many people know that side hustles can be a great way to earn more income. But many still rely on a full-time job as a primary source of income. Because your day job’s paycheck is your bread and butter, it’s important to get paid as much as possible. That’s why knowing how to ask for a raise is crucial.

How to ask for a raise

Getting a raise isn’t usually an easy task at most companies, but learning how to ask for a raise will give you the best chance of landing a pay increase. Before you sit down with your boss and have that conversation, however, start with this prep work.

1. Start a ‘big wins’ file

Unless you can prove that you create value for your company, you will have a hard time getting a raise. To make sure you have the ammunition to ask for a raise later on, track your big wins at work in a private Excel or Word document.

Any time you save the company money, make the company money, complete a big project, or have any sort of workplace victory that could bolster your chances for a raise, make a note of what you did and the date. Keep it around for performance reviews and when asking for a raise.

2. Communicate victories to your boss

Your boss isn’t a mind reader or a telepath, so it’s important to let them know when you do something particularly noteworthy.

If you get an email from another manager saying “good job,” forward it to your boss. If you finish a big project, let your boss know. If you found a way to do something more efficiently, tell your boss. You get the idea.

3. Build a relationship with your boss’s boss

You’re not just learning how to ask your boss for a raise. When it comes time to get your pay increase, you have to convince your boss — but your boss has to convince her boss, and maybe even another boss or two past that.

You’ll have a much better go of it if you have a good relationship with managers up the ladder from you. You may not work with your boss’s boss regularly or directly, so sometimes you have to be creative to get face time and build that relationship. If you can get more interaction with leadership, it’s a great career investment all around.

4. Create a positive reputation with your colleagues

In your fraternity days, winning the beer pong tournament was a badge of honor. At a professional job, being known among your coworkers as the weekend partier may not be to your advantage.

Be selective with storytelling and make sure to present yourself as a professional when talking with coworkers one-on-one or with a group. Always put your best foot forward and come into meetings and assignments with a positive attitude.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the best worker in the office if everyone thinks you are a slacker, irresponsible, or doesn’t like you. That’s just how it goes with office politics. Avoid negative talk and focus on the positive in all interactions with colleagues at work or away from the office.

5. Always give 100 percent

Now that you have the reputation and relationships in place, start working on your raise. Always give every assignment 100 percent of your best effort. Pay attention to details, underpromise and overdeliver, and become the top producer on your team.

If your boss starts coming to you with one-off assignments and jobs, don’t look at it as extra work. Look at it as your boss trusting you to get the job done better than anyone else on your team. That’s a great sign!

Any time you’re getting ready for a performance review, pull out that big wins list to refresh your memory and remind your boss how awesome you are — not just because you are awesome, but because you do an awesome job.

6. Do your homework

The moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived. You may see the biggest success if you ask for a raise shortly before an annual review, but it can be any time of the year that makes sense for you, your boss, and the company. Be thoughtful about the timing when you consider how to ask for a raise.

Many companies offer annual raises around the end of the year, so work as hard as ever in the months leading up to the review (or whenever you plan to ask for the raise). A week or so before, schedule a time to talk with your boss. Don’t lie about your agenda or blindside her. Instead, make it clear that you want to discuss your career at the company.

The key to learning how to negotiate a raise? Do your homework. Conduct some research ahead of time at sites like Glassdoor and Payscale to see how your salary stacks up against company and industry peers.

Print out copies of those reports if they show your earnings are in the bottom 50 percent of comparable salaries. If you’re at least an average worker, you should be paid more to stay competitive.

Come to the meeting with your big wins list and relevant salary report and lay out the case for why you should earn more. Don’t enter with the mindset that you “deserve” more money, but instead focus on the value you provide to the company and use that as your argument.

In my last finance role, I was able to prove that I made the company many times my salary each year, and sometimes saved them that much or more in operating expenses. I had a clear case as to why I earned a high salary. Can you do something similar when asking for a raise?

If you can, you’re on track for a pay bump, assuming your company can afford it and is willing to pay it. Be prepared for them to say no, but if you make a good case and the timing is right, you should hope for the best.

So make your case and ask. The worst case is that they’ll say no (but you can still earn more money on the side). The best case? A bigger paycheck. You have nothing to lose, so get to work on that raise.

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