I remember one time in a past job I was talking to a co-worker about salary. It was in my early 20’s, so I was recently graduated from college and just getting my career going.
The conversation started off talking about what some of the high-level executives were getting paid and how cool it would be to one day make that amount of money.
As the conversation progressed, we started talking about what people in our division were making…
I was relatively new at the company, so I was still learning a lot of the ins and outs of the office politics. By the end of the conversation I had learned that there were people doing the same exact job, in the same exact division, and earning quite different salaries.
The first thought was, “OK, maybe they have been working there longer and it was based on tenure.” But then I found out through conversation that some of them had simply taken the bold move to ask for a raise when the time was right.
In last week’s blog post, One of The Best Investments You Could Ever Make, I discussed how asking for a raise can make a huge impact on your wealth in the long term.
In this article I’m going to walk through the steps you should take when looking to ask for a raise.
And you should always be looking to ask for a raise!
PREPARING FOR LAUNCH (OF YOUR SALARY)
There are two phases in the process: preparation and execution.
Phase 1 – Preparation
STOP! Let’s be real for a second. To have a great chance at getting a raise, you probably have to DESERVE a raise. But this isn’t always true. As the saying goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
However, the more you actually deserve a raise the greater your chances of getting that desired, “Yes!”
So ask yourself some questions.
- Have you done a good job?
- Have you properly executed on your job descriptions?
- Have you gone above and beyond?
- Have you helped to make improvements?
- Have you assisted in times of distress when it wasn’t necessarily your job to do so?
- Have you made your manager look good by doing good work?
The more of these questions you can answer “Yes” to, the better.
These questions should be answered long before you ask for your raise. If you haven’t proven yourself to be a valuable member of the organization then they don’t have much incentive to give you that raise.
Before you go into your manager’s office, make sure you ask yourself if your work justifies a raise.
RESEARCH YOUR INDUSTRY
What if you are given the green light for a raise? Do you have any idea what is a fair increase? What is typical in your industry? What is the high end of the income spectrum at your job level?
Having an understanding of the range is important for two reasons.
- You want to know if you are getting all that you should. If you get an increase of $3,000, how do you know it shouldn’t have been $7,000?
- You don’t want to come in asking for an unreasonable number. (Sorry entry-level workers, they aren’t bumping you up to 7-figures… ☺)
How can you find out this info?
Here are some ideas:
- Talk to people in your industry (Networking events)
- Google statistics on pay ranges for your position
- Look on job search sites and look at comparable jobs in and out of your industry.
- Talk to recruiters
Those are just a handful of ideas, but the point is clear; you need to have an understanding of the range your working within.
Plan out how you want the conversation to go before you have it with your manager. Practice with someone if you need to.
Think through all of the counter questions or arguments they might make against you getting a raise and come up with good answers for all of them. This part isn’t very different from an interview.
Phase 2 – Execution
Now it’s time to act!
Set the meeting on a day your manager is more likely to have some free time, as well as be in a good mood. Fridays are often used for tough conversations because the person is already in a better mood, being so close to the weekend. I’d plan for mid-morning on a Friday.
This will also give your manager time to think over the weekend if needed, and also give you time to think of responses for anything that was brought up that you couldn’t immediately answer.
Be tactful. Don’t go in demanding a raise. There is a certain level of tact that should be used. Lay out your reasons and build a case for why you deserve the raise. But make sure you are framing it in the context of getting your manager’s opinion.
“Mrs. Jones, I’ve been working for xyz corporation and on your team for the past year. I have consistently executed on all tasks at a high level, I have helped out on a number of projects that weren’t in my job description, and I’ve always been ready to volunteer when the team needed.
I have been thinking that it might make sense for me to get an increase in my salary, so I wanted to talk to you and get your opinion. What do you think?”
Never show your hand first. This is a common rookie mistake in any negotiation; telling the other party what you want, first.
Don’t lead with how much money you want for a raise, just talk about why you feel a raise is truly justified.
Hopefully, they will say yes and then tell you how much they are willing to raise your salary (they might legitimately have to go to HR to get approval, so it isn’t unlikely that you’ll have to wait on the number).
The reason you want to hear their offer first is that it might actually be higher than what you were going to originally request. If that is the case, as they say, “Take the money and run!” Say “Thank you, I really appreciate it!” and be on your merry way.
If, however, they offer you a raise, and it’s lower than what your research shows as appropriate, then that is when you start to talk about the number you had in mind. Once again, you should be very tactful and say something along the lines of…
“Mrs. Jones, I appreciate you recognizing my hard work and willing to give me a raise. Before setting up this meeting I wanted to make sure I was prepared (shows you do your homework), so I went out and did a lot of market research on what other people in my position are getting paid.
It turns out that the typical range is between X and Y, with top performers getting the higher end of the range. I feel like with my body of work I have been a top performer for you and xyz corporation. Would you agree with this?”
You are once again showing that you are willing to work hard (you did the research and prepared for this meeting) and you understand your value. If you have truly been a strong performer it will be tough for them to say you don’t deserve the appropriate level of pay.
WHAT TO DO WITH A “NO”
But what if they say they can’t give you a raise because of something like…?
Wait for it… “BUDGETS!”
Well, the important part is to understand this might be the truth. But you still need to be confident in knowing what you are worth to the organization. If they say they can’t do it right now, then ask them “When do you see this being feasible?” Get them to commit to it in the future.
Research has shown that if you get someone to commit to a future action, this will greatly increase the chances of them following through on that action.
So, in the worst case, if they say it’s not possible at that time, be sure to gain some level of commitment about when you can revisit the discussion.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to take action!
A company will rarely doll out money if they don’t have to. Great organizations know they need to keep their top talent happy in order to not lose them, but most will just keep the purse strings tight.
If you want something, you are going to have to ask for it.