You’ve worked hard at your job and feel strongly that you deserve to make more than you’re currently being paid. You may know this in your heart to be true, but that doesn’t make the ask any less daunting. After all, even with a wonderful boss, going in and asking for a raise can be a nerve-wracking task–it’s asserting ourselves to an authority figure and putting pressure on our employer to go out of their way to spend more money.
But asking for raises is also just a part of professional life. Countless employees have done it before, countless employees will do it in the future, and if they all did it, there’s no reason you can’t either. So how can you increase your chances of your boss saying “yes” to this always-difficult question?
It may feel gauche to talk about money, but this is your job and your income we’re talking about, so there’s no benefit to being soft or beating around the bush when you ask. Of course you always want to stay on the side of “assertive” and not cross into “rude,” but there’s nothing inherently wrong or out of bounds to ask to be paid what you feel you’re worth, so go in confidently and don’t demure.
You’re far less likely to get the results you want if you talk nebulously about “stepping up your career” or “earning a reward,” so be clear–you’re asking for an increase in pay, and you feel you deserve it due to reasons x, y, and z. And name a number! Your employer may not be able to meet your request, but if you throw out “$2 more per hour” or “a $5,000 annual salary increase” then that gives them a clear idea of your expectations and a starting point for potential negotiations.
A common mistake people make when asking for a raise is to argue that they need it, rather than that they deserve it. As much as it may not be the nicest to hear, most employers aren’t in the habit of giving raises just because someone has hospital bills or their house needs a new roof. Those big issues may be what are driving you to ask, but your boss is looking for why giving a raise would benefit the company–not just you.
So instead of focusing on what you need the money for or trying to make emotional appeals, focus instead on what you bring to the table. Document your major accomplishments within the company, times you’ve gone above and beyond your job description, or ways you’re driving profit. In fact, if you can attach a dollar number to your reasoning (eg: “I implemented this program that saved the company $40,000 last year; I think I deserve a $5,000/year raise”), you’re in a much stronger position to get what you’re asking for.
Oftentimes, organizations–especially those with small budgets in fields like education and non-profit sectors–may not have the money to grant a monetary raise. And to that effect, another oversight people make when asking for raises is narrow-focusing only on the dollar amount and neglecting the many different benefits companies can offer.
For example, maybe your company can’t give you the $5,000/year salary bump you’re looking for, but they can offer additional vacation days, better retirement matching, or profit-sharing opportunities like employee stock options. These benefits may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but being open to hearing and asking about them can make the difference between a raise conversation just shutting down and actually getting a tangible improvement in your overall compensation package.
Lastly, remember that this is likely not just one conversation. Regardless of whether your employer says yes, says no, or negotiates something in between, you’ve got to follow up and make sure you know where to go from there.
If you’ve successfully gotten your boss to agree to some type of raise (whether monetary or increased benefits), make sure you get the offer in writing and follow up soon after to have a conversation about the details–when it will go into effect, what you need to do on your end, etc, etc. You don’t want to be a pest, but at the same time, if all you have is a verbal agreement–well, that means you’ve got nothing if your employer chooses to “forget” the conversation ever happened.
Alternatively, if you didn’t get the big “yes,” you still want to follow up. If your boss needs to think about it or check with higher-ups, connect with them on a timeline so the can isn’t just kicked down the road. And if you heard the unfortunate “no,” follow up with another conversation–not to ask again, but to ask what you could do as an employee to achieve the raise you want at a future date. After all, that may not give you an increased paycheck, but it gives you a path forward!
Asking for a raise is a stressful conversation for the best of us, and most of us don’t even know where to begin. At Spotloan, our mission is not only to provide loan options for people in any financial situation, but also to provide the education and resources to help you navigate the difficult world of personal finance. Contact us today to fill out a loan application or take advantage of our financial education resources and get your money in order.