One of the toughest things for any employee to do, even for top performers, is to ask your employer to give you a raise.
But increasing your income is one way to help you reach your financial goals, like buying a home.
The nerve-racking X factor is the possibility that your employer will decline your request.
If you feel that you truly deserve a raise, that outcome can give you with a negative view of your job.
If you want a raise, but you’re unsure how it will play out, you need to have a strategy that will increase the chances that the raise will be approved.
Use the following ways to convince your employer to give you a raise so you can move closer to your bigger financial goals.
1. Make Sure You Deserve a Raise First
This is a challenging consideration for most people. That’s because most of us believe that we inherently deserve a raise. But you have to be at least somewhat objective on this point.
Consider your job performance compared to that of your coworkers. Are you the “go-to” person in the office? Are you punctual — do you show up for work every day and on time? Or are you more relaxed with the time clock? Do you put in extra time and effort during busy times on the job? Or do you try to stick to a strict 9-to-5 schedule, and mostly tend to your regular work?
Do a critical self-evaluation here. If you are one of the higher performers in the office or company, you may very well deserve a raise. But if you are in the going-along-to-get-along crowd, you may have a weaker case. Not to worry, however, as that too can be remedied.
2. Don’t Say No for Them
Don’t count yourself out without even trying. Your boss is the one who will have the final say and know what the company can and can’t do.
So don’t look at the economy or even your company’s quarterly performance (except maybe in extreme cases) as a reason to not ask for a raise.
Advocate for yourself because the worst that can happen is a no and you don’t lose anything you already have.
3. Check Your Market Value
Before deciding on how much of a raise to request, you need to know what your market value is. That’s determined by comparing your current compensation level to the pay scales of employers in your field.
Fortunately, with the internet, this is easy enough to accomplish. If you want to do a deep study, you can always check out the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website. They not only provide salary levels based on hundreds of different career fields, but also the specific levels in different states and cities. And it does vary from one region to another, sometimes significantly.
An easier way to determine your pay level is to go to popular websites, like PayScale.com. Employers even use such websites to determine salary levels, so you’ll be in good company using these resources.
If you find that you are below the average compensation level in your field and your area, it’s an easy ask. But if you are at the top of the range, the only way to justify a significant increase is if you are an exceptional performer.
4. Build up a Resume of Recent Accomplishments
If you believe that you deserve a raise, it’s sometimes better to delay requesting it. That can give you time to build up a repertoire of accomplishments that can impress your value upon management.
View this as an opportunity if you feel that you are lacking in this area. It can mean stepping up during busy times or taking on additional responsibilities, tasks that no one else wants to do.
You may only have to do this for a few months. Since the effort will be recent, it’ll be an excellent reference point of your value to the employer.
5. Get Any Additional Training that You Need
A raise could be withehld if you lack important training. If that seems to be the case, take the initiative to get the necessary training.
Consider asking your company to fund training or workshops in your field. This could include professional memberships to keep up with current expectations in your role and trends in your industry.
It may even be possible for you to get the training free of charge. There are some good training resources available on sites like YouTube for just about any career field that you can think of. Sometimes just learning the basics of a particular skill is all that’s needed to lift you to the next level.
Further training will make you more valuable to the company and allows you to optimize your performance. Showing your boss your initiative might also make them more open to discussions about a raise.
And in the worst-case scenario, if you have to seek employment elsewhere, your training and experience will make you more marketable in your industry and you can ask for more compensation starting out.
6. Document Your Contributions
No matter how well you think you are doing your job it’s possible that your employer is not aware.
That’s because a single boss may have to manage a large number of people, and can’t always pay attention to individuals.
Create a document and fill it with written documentation of your accomplishments to help convince your employer to give you a raise. This includes certificates, evidence of training, letters, and emails commending your performance, or even loose notes that explain your contributions in some detail.
Be especially sure to include documentation that you fixed a major problem, or brought in an important new client. If there are profits that are a direct result of your work then include that report too. This is also where you should include salary documentation from third-party sources if it supports your request for higher pay.
The idea is to create an informal resume that you can draw on if your employer is hesitant. If the employer is unaware of specific important contributions, your documentation can save the day.
Be confident and to the point and give your boss a copy of the document when the meeting is over.
7. Enlist Your Boss’s Help
We should start this section with what you should not do. And that’s to never go over your boss’s head when convincing your employer for a raise.
Your boss may be your best and only ally in your quest for higher pay. Should you leave him or her out of the process, you could be inadvertently highlighting the fact that your boss is part of the reason why you don’t have higher pay.
Instead, run all of your documentation and concerns by your boss first. If you’re working for a large organization, a salary increase will have to go up the chain of command, and that may require the approval of several people in management. Your chance of getting through that bureaucratic chain greatly improves if your boss is in your corner.
The flip side is that if your boss is not in your corner, upper management may take it as a sign of his or her lack of approval. And since your boss is your immediate superior, that opinion will carry much greater weight.
8. Make an Appointment
Your salary isn’t something that should be callously approached in the break room. Make an appointment in advance so you have dedicated time to discuss your raise with your boss.
Your pay isn’t a casual matter so treat the meeting professionally. Your boss is likely to schedule this meeting based on his or her own availability. Remain flexible but be urgent — it’s not out of the question for a manager to put off a discussion that they don’t want to have, for whatever reason that may be.
9. Practice Makes Perfect
As cheesy as it may sound, practicing what you want to say in front of a mirror or with a friend can help you prepare. You don’t want to read from a script but have an idea of all the points you want to hit in this meeting and feel confident when you present them.
Have your practice partner role-play as your boss and run different scenarios of what they might say. Role-playing will help you brainstorm possible answers so you’re not caught off guard.
10. Look the Part
You will likely already be in your work clothes when you have your meeting, but it doesn’t hurt to put a little extra care into your look that day. You know your company culture best so don’t show up in a suit if your office is more casual and vice versa.
The saying goes “dress for the job you want,” so why not dress for the salary that you want?
Another tip is to be aware of your body language. Again, you should know how to approach the situation best. If you have an open and comfortable relationship with your boss then a relaxed conversation should be easy. If you don’t, just remain professional, calm, and collected.
11. Prepare to Negotiate
You may not be able to get exactly what you ask for but this is where negotiating tactics come in handy. Your company may come back with a counteroffer and you can come up with your own.
Let’s say that you want a 10% increase in pay. Maybe your employer is not prepared to make that kind of increase. But if that’s the case, you should be prepared to get as close to that number as possible through a variety of means.
One popular negotiating tactic is to have the increase spread out over a greater length of time. For example, you may be able to negotiate an immediate 5% increase, with another 5% in six months or one year.
That agreement may even include a requirement that you achieve a certain higher performance level. If you are prepared to negotiate this type of agreement, it can indicate your dedication to the job and your commitment to the employer.
Another negotiating method is using non-financial compensation. For example, instead of higher pay, you might negotiate for more paid time off, flextime, or even a shorter workweek. You could ask for annual time off to be put in place.
You might even be able to negotiate a major shift in work style, such as partial or full home basing. None of these perks may increase your salary, but they might make your job more enjoyable and open up other opportunities for you in the future.
Another option is to ask your employer to pay for a major work expense such as a laptop, a car, a mobile phone, or internet service. Sometimes, even child care can be paid for through your employer and could help you take a major expense out of your budget.
In this age of emerging remote work possibilities, it’s not out of the question to ask for a new workstation for your home office. If you are back in the office, asking for a larger workspace or other accommodations could make your workday more enjoyable.
It may also offer your employer an opportunity to make you happy without having to increase their payroll expense. They may appreciate that and reward you with a generous package.
12. Follow Up
Always make sure to follow up. Your boss is likely to need some time to give you an answer, whether that be to get permission from the higher-ups or to put together a counteroffer.
If you get an answer right away, great! If not, don’t assume it’s a no. They may have gotten busy or buried in other tasks.
Maybe even ask them at the end of your initial meeting if you could follow up in a week, or whatever time frame is appropriate so that you’re not left wondering what’s best.
The Bottom Line
Asking for raises is one of those things that doesn’t come naturally to most people. But you’re entitled to look out for yourself and take steps to improve your future and reach your goals.
By preparing in advance, and being ready to negotiate, you can make pay raise negotiations a much more comfortable arrangement and successfully convince your employer to give you a raise.
You owe it to yourself.
Sometimes an increase in income is necessary if you’re looking to move into the next chapter of your life, such as buying a home.
When you’re financially ready to take the next major step in your life, let the experts at My Perfect Mortgage match you with the right lender.
Once you’re in your dream home, you’ll surely be glad that you asked for that raise.