How to Ask for a Raise, According to Your Boss

There are plenty of good reasons to consider asking for a raise.

First of all, you’re less likely to receive one if you don’t ask. And, the gains acquired through even a small salary increases actually snowball over time. You won’t just benefit from the raise this year, but in every year that follows. (Annual raises tend to be based on a percentage increase of your salary. So, a raise benefits your future earnings even more than is immediately obvious.) It pays to ask for a raise, especially when you know you really deserve one.

Bosses have an interesting perspective on the process of salary negotiation. Their insights and tips can be wildly helpful when it comes to asking for an increase. Let’s take a look at some of their best advice on the topic:

Managers’ Advice on How to Ask for a Raise:

1. Communicate About Your Goals

One of the best ways to show your boss that you care about your professional future is to tell him or her directly. If you’re driven and want to move up in the company, your boss should know about it. If, however, your boss is taken by surprise by your request for a raise, you’re less likely to get it. It might seem like the idea is coming up out of the blue rather than it being something that you’ve systematically worked toward.

John Malloy, President of a component manufacturing company, told Fast Company about an employee who did this well. “He’d probably been with us only 90 days. And he came in and said, ‘I want to make sure I’m doing all the right stuff. What are the things that I need to be doing to please you and help the company?” This allowed them to engage in a process of goal-setting and review. Malloy wrote down six key points and the employee asked when they could meet again to discuss his progress.

Keeping your boss in the know when it comes to your professional goals is one of the best things you can do for your career. Still, many don’t do it. In fact, according to research by Right Management, only about 16% of employees say they have ongoing conversations with their managers about their careers. And, 82% said they’d be more engaged if they had these kinds of conversations with their boss more often. Engaging in a goal-setting and review process with your manager works to your advantage in so many ways.

2. Do Your Homework

“Before any salary negotiation, conduct background research to determine your market value,” Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, told Forbes. “You need to have a solid foundation for the request and realistic expectations. Study salary trends for professionals in your geographic area and industry with similar job titles, qualifications and responsibilities.”

Use PayScale’s Salary Survey to find out what professionals in your area with your level of experience are earning. Equipping yourself with this information can help you communicate with your boss about why you want, and deserve, a pay increase.

3. Keep the Focus on Your Work

It can be really tempting to talk about your personal financial situation when asking for a raise. But, as a general rule, it’s better to focus on your professional accomplishments instead. Keep in mind that your manager will likely have to go to someone else to get your raise approved. So, you want to arm her or him with the facts.

“You want to show how your achievements have helped the organization on it’s path to succeed,” said career coach Loren Margolis, according to The Muse. “Did your research help the company expand into a new marketplace? Did a project you led increase your team’s efficiency? Did your work help to deepen customer loyalty or enhance internal communication? Having critical data like this will add credibility to your request and give you the necessary support you need to make your case.”

Prepare a brief list of your accomplishments and contributions to the company before sitting down to meet with your manager. Use the list to highlight why you feel you’re ready for a raise rather than focusing on why you need the money or even how much time or care you invest in your job. Your manager will appreciate your focus on the business and your professionalism. And, you’ll equip your boss with the tools to help negotiate for you with the powers that be.

4. Time It Well

Managers have ups and downs too. But, good ones often don’t lay out their struggles or negative emotions for everyone to see. Still, as a member of the company, you probably know quite a lot about what’s going on behind the scenes. And, your boss would appreciate it if you’d use that information to time your request appropriately.

Don’t ask for a raise when everyone is rushing to meet an important deadline or right in the middle of the busiest season. Use your emotional intelligence to time your request well. If your boss is in the middle of implementing budget cuts, for example, it’s probably not the right time.

When the time is right, ask your boss to meet with you to discuss your future with the company and your goals. This gives them a heads up about what you’d like to talk about beforehand. Managers generally appreciate this. And, if you can time your request right on the heels of a big accomplishment, perhaps after you’ve just landed a great new client or finished a big project, that could work to your advantage, too.

5. Be Direct and Confident

It can feel uncomfortable to ask for a raise. But, it helps to be direct about it. If your manager isn’t sure what you’re looking for from him or her, it’ll complicate the situation. So, be honest and clear about your request when meeting with your manager and throughout the entire process.

It can feel strange or wrong to toot your own horn. But, it’s important to detail your skills and accomplishments when you’re looking for a salary increase. So, tell your boss that you’re hoping to increase your salary by 5%, for example, and then clearly state why you deserve that increase. It also wouldn’t hurt to submit your request in writing as well as in person. Your directness and your confidence could help you move closer to your salary goals.

6. Demonstrate That You’re Already Thinking About New Responsibilities

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Christina Morillo/Pexels

One of the best ways to ask for a promotion is simply to demonstrate that you deserve it. So, don’t just do the job you already have, start to gear yourself toward where you want to go. No one is suggesting you do two jobs. But, demonstrating that you’re passionate about things related to a higher position can go a long way. The idea here is to show your boss that you’re excited about moving up in the organization. — and that you’re already starting to think of ideas.

“My best advice to fast-track a promotion is to dress for the job you want — and the job you have,” Jenna Tanenbaum, the founder of the smoothie delivery service GreenBlender, told Forbes. “First, command the tasks and responsibilities in your current role, and then start solving the problems that your soon-to-be self would be working on. The only way to effectively do this is through careful time management. Understand the core strategy of your organization, ask lots of hard questions and align your priorities with that of the company. You’ll be running the show in no time.”

7. Take Receiving a “No” in Stride

Your boss or manager wants you to be prepared to be denied when you’re asking for a raise. Keep in mind that the decision often isn’t personal. Budget constraints or timing issues might mean that increasing your salary just isn’t an option. So, be professional and courteous if you are turned down. Next, work with your manager to determine how you can move toward your goals in the future.

“Reply with, ‘What would it take for me to earn a raise in the future?’” Alison Green, author of the Ask a Manager blog, told The Muse. “If she or he can’t tell you, that’s an indication that your manager is terrible or that the company is structured poorly.”

If you can take being turned down in stride, it will show your boss something about your capabilities and your professionalism. Work together to come up with next steps. Decent managers will be willing to work with you in this way. And, with some diligence and commitment to the process, you can work toward a promotion even if you don’t receive one right away.

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