Now's the Time: How to Ask for a Raise the Right Way
Figuring out how to ask for a raise can be a daunting task, to say the least, and at times it’s pretty darn uncomfortable. How do you broach the subject? Do you schedule a time to talk? How much of a pay increase do you ask for? Before you know it, you’ve already talked yourself out of going through with it. A recent study shows men are three times more likely than women to get the pay increase they ask for. “Asking for a raise is so important,” says Rachel Rider, founder and executive coach and leadership consultant at MettaWorks in New York City.
“As an HR professional, I saw that without fail, men negotiated salaries consistently more often than women,” she says. “Seeing that firsthand made me vow to myself that I would always negotiate.” Rider initially worked in human resources in the tech industry and later founded her own private practice as an executive coach to help leaders and employees communicate more effectively and grow in their careers. With Rider’s help, we’ve rounded up the top six insider tips for how to ask for a raise the right way. Read on to learn the art of salary negotiation.
Do your research.
It’s appropriate to ask for a raise after a year on the job or if there’s a change in your role and responsibilities. Remember to steer away from making the ask revolve around how you’re underpaid compared to your peers at the office. But it is valid to look into what other employees are getting paid in similar roles at similar companies—both larger and smaller. “This gives you a reference point for what is within reason, what might be a stretch, and what might be outrageous,” Rider says.
Decide what’s important to you.
Before you go in for your meeting, make sure you have your priorities straight. What matters to you in addition to the money? Is it a change in responsibilities, more ownership, working remotely once a week? “Oftentimes people say that getting a raise is what helps them feel valued,” says Rider. “If the company cannot provide that, it may be able to do other things. At this point, you can say ‘All right, then I think it’s just as important for me to have…’” This is where you’d insert whatever else might be of value to you.
Make your case.
This is where we get to how you should ask for a raise. First, stick to discussing the impact you’ve had on the company and how you are going above and beyond your current role. Point to specific examples where you’ve been called out for your work achievements or reference the positive feedback your manager has given you in the past. Think of this as your way of educating your manager on the work you’ve been doing, in case they’re not familiar with your everyday work or they don’t remember or realize the impact you’ve made on the company.
Calling attention to this is important. “The best argument you can make is what you offer the company and the value you bring,” Rider says. “Never reference your own financial hardship or personal situations like your partner lost their job or you have a new child. That’s not the company’s responsibility, and it doesn’t make sense for it to pay you based on a personal need.” Getting paid is all about having a salary that acknowledges the work that you do, so keep that in mind.
Know your leverage.
How valuable is the role you’re in? What would happen to the team if you left? Make sure to assess the situation. “Knowing the circumstances gives you a sense of how responsive the company will be,” Rider says. “If the stakes are lower, this is where it might be helpful to know the other items you are willing to receive in lieu of cash.” Also, decide ahead of time how important the response to your request is. Will you be willing to leave if you don’t get the raise? “If not, make sure you don't make empty threats or talk yourself into a corner,” Rider advises.
Ask for more than you want.
This is not to say you should ask for an outrageous sum, but you should make the ask for more than you actually want. This allows room for the manager to come back and say, “Well, we couldn’t do what you asked, but we can do…” By requesting slightly more, you’re giving yourself a buffer so you still receive what you’d like.
Walk away with something.
If at the end of the day, your manager tells you they can’t give you an increase at this time, know how you want to follow up. Introduce any other items you would be interested in—tuition reimbursement, working remotely, etc. “Even a small ask is good,” says Rider. “Try saying something like: ‘Given this response, it is important to me that we at least are spending time talking about my development in each of our one-on-ones. I would like to continue to feel engaged and valued.’” It’s extremely important that you feel like you’ve been heard and can walk away with something (even if it’s not a pay raise). And if your manager can’t give you that? "Then there is a different conversation you should have—this time with yourself—about finding a new job,” says Rider.
What is your advice for how to ask for a raise? Up next: the first four things you should do every workday.