It can be the most awkward work conversation to have, and it’s definitely one of the trickiest maneuvers to make as an employee—asking for a raise. An exemplary worker can be a team player, a go-to staffer who works long hours and produces under tremendous pressure, and a creative problem-solver who elevates the entire company. But when it comes to asking for fair compensation, they avoid talking to their boss, and as a result they lose out on significant salary.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a raise. It opens dialogue with your boss about your performance and future, and can set you for increased success. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare to have this delicate discussion:
Choose the right time to have the conversation
Timing is everything. For example, if your boss has just spilled hot coffee on himself, it’s probably not the best moment to ask for his time. Ideally, you’ve been on a roll, and he’s noticed what an MVP you are in the office.
Do your research
Before you negotiate, go to sites like PayScale and Glassdoor to see what comparable professionals with your skillset, experience and job responsibilities are earning. Experts at Columbia Business School recommend giving a precise number instead of a round figure (i.e. $31,750 is better than $30,000), because it shows you’ve done your research and are informed.
Prove your value, including sharing your wins
It can be uncomfortable talking about yourself as a superb employee. Remember, however, that it’s not bragging to simply make sure your boss knows how you’ve generated revenue, modernized the office, increased efficiency, or tripled output. Data, especially numbers, are always impressive selling points. Also make sure to detail the ways in which you’ve exceeded expectations, taken on extra work, expanded your responsibilities so you can show how invaluable you are.
Practice your pitch and anticipate questions
It’s good to have rehearsed the conversation before you go in, so you’re fully prepared for the range of responses your boss can toss back at you. The more prepared you are to answer any questions that can come your way, the more impressive you’ll be. The last thing you want to do is serve back a blank stare to your boss. It will also allow you to compromise, should the need arise, and prevents you from getting defensive for any reason.
Talk about the future
Include the vision you have for your job and career. How can the way you tackle a new assignment translate to an increase in responsibilities for you? Do you see yourself managing junior staffers? What experiences have you had that you can use to improve the company?
Focus on why you deserve a raise, not why you need it
Your boss wants to know why your work deserves to be rewarded, and how having you on the team is vital. He may be a friend and genuinely care about your well-being, but the payroll and HR department, who often have to approve the raise, won’t be as moved by your child’s school tuition, or your new mortgage.
Be prepared to hear no
It might sting, but don’t be defeated. In fact, take the opportunity to ask, “Can we talk about what you’d like to do more of, what I can do to earn a raise in the future?”