While some may advise leaving salary up to karma, we think that salary should reflect performance, skills, experience, and your company’s compensation philosophy. Whether you’re a man or woman, it is important to understand your worth and consider factors that influence your magic number, before you make your case for a salary increase.
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1. Do your own research.
PayScale’s Research Center offers salary ranges for most job titles, considering variables like years of experience, location, size of the company, and employer. Before you ask for your raise, you need to understand what the market pays for a similar role and where you are in that context.
2. Understand your company’s compensation philosophy.
Different companies have different philosophies toward compensation. Some would like to be at the 50th percentile of the market, some at the 110th percentile, and so on. Understanding this (the approach to compensation is generally made known to all in the company) would help you make/revisit your case. You can also contact your local HR representative for help understanding the topic.
3. Time your request appropriately.
The ideal time to ask for a raise is when you’ve performed exceptionally, taken on additional responsibilities, delivered well beyond your expectations. On the other hand, don’t even talk about an increase when you’ve had a bad project to work on, your colleagues are being laid off, or when the company is having a bad year. It is also necessary to know the company’s increment cycle. There’s little your manager can do if you broach your request too early or too late in the compensation cycle. It is best if you let your manager know a few months before the compensation cycle kicks in, so it’s at the top of your manager’s mind and there’s still time to work on the team budget.
4. Present your case objectively.
Set up time with your manager and approach the topic practically. Don’t be on the offensive and start off by saying, “the company hasn’t paid me my due” or “I’ve been paid a low wage for a long time now, and I think it’s time we correct that.” Present your case objectively – share your achievements, your contribution to projects, and substantiate your request for a salary increase.
5. Keep the personal away.
Your manager may or may not know your personal situation, but having a baby or buying a new house are not reasons to give you a raise. There are several factors that influence your salary, but your personal situation is not one of them. So even if your manager is empathetic and understanding, don’t bring your personal issues into the discussion. It’s just not right and will end up making both parties uncomfortable.
6. Know your number, but let your manager propose.
When you’ve done exceptional work, chances are your manager will consider you a valuable talent to retain, so when you’re trying to ask for a salary increase, know how much you’re worth and how much you’d like, but let your manager come up with a proposal. It could be a pleasant surprise if you get more than what you would have asked. If not, you get to know the number around which you should negotiate. Just be reasonable in your request.
7. Have a contingency plan.
Each person’s situation is unique, so know your options in case you are not going to get a raise. Can you stay on in the current salary? Do you have to look out for another opportunity? Whatever you do, don’t threaten to quit without a job in hand. It is too much of a risk. Without an offer from another company, you have no way of knowing if you’ll even get the money you want by going somewhere else.
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