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Asking the boss for a raise is never easy, no matter how well it’s deserved.
Two experts on employment and career advancement have some helpful advice. Laura Mason-Smith is an executive coach and president of Mason-Smith Success Strategies, and Cindy Coelho-Bunker is president of River City Staffing Group and serves on the board of the Sacramento Area Human Resource Association. Together they offer six tips that will make asking for a raise easier, and could increase your chances of success.
1. BE PREPARED, THINK “RESULTS” AND NOTE “PROGRESS”
Simply being at the company for a long period of time or having a list of completed tasks doesn’t cut it. Go beyond what you’ve done, and explain what the results of those activities were. Provide hard facts and numbers that show how the work you’ve done helps the company meet its objectives, makes it better, more profitable, more productive and/or a better place to work. It’s best to keep a journal of these accomplishments over several months, as bosses typically only remember the last few weeks. Best of all, deliver the achievements in writing—professionally organized and presented.
2. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Don’t ask for a raise after the company has undergone layoffs or salary cuts, lost a big piece of business, or has already finalized its budget for the next fiscal year. Equally important, don’t ambush your boss. It’s best to schedule 15 minutes on their calendar (you don’t need to list “raise” as the subject). Pick a time of day when they are generally more relaxed and not busy, and schedule time early in the week so they can consider your request before the weekend.
3. GO IN KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT, BASED ON RESEARCH
With so many job boards and professional associations out there, there are numerous resources available to determine what someone in your job position, with your experience and in your market, should be earning. If you’re below this level, that serves as a good guide for how much of an increase to seek. If you’re above this level, you can save yourself embarrassment and disappointment—before inspiring your boss to do this research themselves.
4. DON’T LET YOUR REQUEST LANGUISH
You probably won’t get an answer at the meeting or even that same day. It’s OK while meeting with your boss to say you understand they probably need some time to think about it, and set another appointment in a few days.
5. AVOID ULTIMATUMS UNLESS YOU’RE REALLY WILLING TO WALK AWAY
All an ultimatum does is give your boss a reason to wonder why they should give you more money when you are thinking about leaving anyway.
6. BE CREATIVE AND WILLING TO COMPROMISE
The actual dollar amount you want may not be feasible, but there are many different kinds of compensation. More paid time off, a private parking space, telecommuting once a week, or a spot bonus are just a few of the non-salary ways in which your good work can be recognized.