Asking for a raise is one of the hardest things you’re likely ever to do at work. It’s one of those things that rank alongside asking for money in terms of awkwardness.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
It’s quite possible to escape the angst, dread-filled moments before walking into the boss’ office to ask for more cash on your paycheck. Besides, it’s quite rare for a raise to be given without being asked for. If you feel your overdue, why not go for it?
Beforehand, there are a few questions you have to ask yourself.
- Do you think the amount and quality of work you do merit the increase in pay?
- How does your salary compare with someone in a similar position such as your own in the same or a different company?
You are likely not alone in the feeling you need a raise. However, the decision ultimately rests in the hands of an authority higher than your own. Evaluating yourself through a different perspective can help you determine whether you should ask for a raise or not.
So, first things first. When is it safe to ask for a raise?
When to ask for a raise
Technically, you can ask for a raise any time you like. However, this is offset by the likelihood of getting no as the answer. This is even more likely so if you aren’t professional about the whole thing.
There are various factors that will affect when you should ask for a raise. The first is the amount of time you’ve been working at the company or firm.
Typically, you should wait for the annual performance review before going ahead. In other words, the bare minimum is one year. However, the exception is if your job changes dramatically, which includes a sudden increase in your responsibilities.
An example of a bad time to ask for a raise is the period following a merger, layoffs or a rough financial period for the company.
A good time to ask would be after closing a huge deal or if you've gone over a year without receiving a raise, but have received great performance reviews and recognition from your coworkers.
The key is to make the timing based on your merits, not the success of the company. For instance, just because the company got a new series of funding, you shouldn't assume you deserve a raise because of it. But it still never hurts to ask.
Even if you’re told no, however, asking may still be beneficial. As long as you act professional, it displays assertiveness and your willingness to take initiative. When things change, you’re likely to be at the top of who will be considered.
Here are some tips for asking for a raise:
1. Come prepared with facts and data
The modern-day industry is what it is thanks to the evolution of data. As much as that may not affect you directly, you have to be able to produce evidence that you deserve the raise.
Some of the questions that fall into this category is how much people of your rank earn as compared to you. This can either be in your firm or other competing firms.
Of course, there are various factors that go into this. For instance, you may be a better worker than people in similar positions or your evaluation has been more positive.
On the side, information such as who has gotten a raise recently could play a huge role in your increase.
Additionally facts regarding the performance of your team, department or even the company as a whole is priceless information.
The better the performance, the higher likelihood you’re considered indispensable. Subsequently, the higher the chances you’re going to have a stronger standing for yourself.
2. Ask at the right time
As we hinted at earlier, the importance of timing should never be underestimated. Once you’ve gathered relevant information regarding the performance of your team, your company or even the company, it should reflect appropriately on your decision.
Chances are, you’re working the hardest you can but it might not always reflect relative to the performance of the company.
The worst time to ask for a raise would be while the company is getting a shift in management, undergoing a merger or has fallen on tough times. Some signs the company might be doing bad are regular layoffs, frozen salaries or year-on-year losses.
If you happen to fall in that category, placing a request will seem insensitive and unprofessional.
Additionally, consider the amount of time you’ve been working for the firm and your performance within that time frame. If the results are in your favor, you’re good to go.
3. Be professional
One thing you should always keep in mind is the relationship between employee and employer should be mutually beneficial.
When you put the deal on the table, you must be assertive, but always keep ultimatums like "give me a raise or I quit" out of the discussion. Of course, it’s not completely out of the question, but if you’re wise, only quit once you have another job ready and waiting.
Besides, if the company isn’t willing to grant you a raise right now, they might still be willing to discuss other benefits like increased vacation time.
Also be mindful of how you phrase your request.
The most common way of presenting it is splitting the request into two:
- Acknowledgement of the company’s situation, and
- Your contributions to it.
Even then, you have to resist the urge to sound coy and be as professional as you can. For instance, saying: "The company is doing well, so me and my department want a raise," is too bullish.
A different approach would be instead, "It’s come to my attention that the economic situation of the company has vastly improved over the last year. Me and my department have been hard at work, as the information I’ve presented you suggests, and my performance review was exceptional. I’m wondering if I could be granted a five percent increase in my pay.”
If you have data to back up the request, you should follow a similar approach when asking for the raise.
In fact, the best way to improve your chances of getting a raise would be to spend a bit of time doing some research.
Once that’s out of the way, a request such as, “I realize I was recruited when the economy was at a standstill, and given the average income of my peers and my performance, I was hoping my pay could be pushed closer to the norm.”
4. Have a backup plan
The all-important backup plan should never be overlooked. There are high chances you won’t be able to get a raise just yet.
However, it does put you in a stronger position to receive one later. Depending on company policies you can ask for feedback from the higher-ups to improve how you perform and possibly appeal the decision.
Again, depending on the feedback you receive, if any, you can try and improve your standing with the company to improve your chances the next time you ask.
It’s very important, however, that you know how much you are worth to the company. If you feel you are worth much more than the company pays, maybe it’s time to pack up your bags and leave.
Of course, leaving will only be to your benefit if the data backs up your belief and you have another job ready and waiting. Never quit your job without a backup plan.
Don't be afraid to ask for a raise
In the end, nobody should be subjected to a higher workload than they can sustain without derailing their mental stability.
And if you don't think you're being compensated well enough, and get get denied a raise, it might be time to start looking for new opportunities.