Asking for a raise is definitely not a talent you are both with. It is a skill that even the most successful careerists must cultivate and refine. For most, it is also one of the most nerve-wracking experiences you will ever have during your career, and you will likely have it more than once.
What this points to is a need to begin learning how to ask for the raises you want and deserve right from the start, so that by the time you have assembled a truly raise-worthy resume, you are also ready to walk in and request your raise like a pro. These tips will give you the insights you need to ready yourself for asking that all important question.
Tip #1: It all boils down to how you ask.
If there is one thing bosses can count on, it is that each employee on their staff wants to be earning more money. For this reason, every employer expects every employee to ask for a raise at one point or another.
What you need to know: Whether or not you get the raise won’t be a matter of if you ask or even when you ask. It will be how you ask that determines how receptive your boss is to your request.
Tip #2: You need to include some specifics about what you are asking for.
A big part of leadership training is learning to take charge of your own career. This includes doing the research to find out if your compensation package is competitive for what the market is paying and crafting an effective and convincing ask. Your boss may already know these things, but then again, s/he may not. It is your career - so you should be the one who knows the most about it.
What you need to know: Do your research first. Know whether your current compensation is fair for your level of experience, education, skill and responsibilities. If you are asking for more than what the market average pays, justify it. If possible, give a range rather than a set number so your boss has something to work with that may fall within their current budget.
Tip #3: Pick your moment wisely.
For every request, there is a right and a wrong moment to ask. Some examples of wrong times would be right before your performance review, during the year-end holiday rush and when your boss is swamped with payroll.
What you need to know: Begin to study your boss. Does s/he seem more available during certain times each day? What about days of the week - is it better to ask at the beginning of the week when s/he is fresh or at weeks-end when the departmental goals have been turned in? Then time your ask meeting accordingly.
Tip #4: Sell yourself.
When you ask for a raise, you are not selling your boss on an idea or a concept. You are selling yourself, plain and simple. Are you an asset to the firm? Why? How have you brought value to the team and the company over the last year (or since your last raise)? What can you do that your boss won’t find anywhere else?
What you need to know: Write each of these points down for yourself in advance. Consider your boss’s personality and other questions you might be asked and think of how you want to respond to those as well. Prepare, prepare, prepare! If necessary, have a mentor or friend role-play so you can practice answering the questions in advance.
Tip #5: Smile! Laugh! Be yourself!
Recent research highlights just how critical it is to your career advancement that you be perceived as a happy, friendly, likable and easy-to-work with colleague. The employees who score high marks in these areas also get more raises and more promotions than their more serious colleagues - regardless of who is most qualified!
What you need to know: There is certainly room for all kinds of people in the workplace, and certain professions tend to be more attractive to extroverted, “life of the party” people as opposed to quieter, introverted people. So you don’t have to change your whole personality to get a raise. But you do want to be considered irreplaceable at what you do - and those people tend to be known, liked and respected by their peers.
To summarize, the most important elements in asking for a raise are how you ask, when you ask and how well you sell yourself. Do well in these three areas and that precious raise will likely be yours!