When it’s time to get a raise, actually asking for it can feel massively intimidating. Sitting down one-on-one with your boss? Talking about money? Bragging about your own achievements? Ack.
Many women may actually avoid asking for higher pay in the first place. In reality, you should feel comfortable asking for a raise if you deserve one — but make sure you’ve set yourself up for success when you walk into that meeting.
Since April is National Financial Literacy Month, HelloGiggles spoke with career experts about a few things that could prevent you from getting a raise. Here’s the good news: These issues are pretty easy to fix and nothing to panic about. Here are seven things that could sabotage your chance to get a raise.
The mistake: You haven’t documented your worth
Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster, tells HelloGiggles that you should keep a running tally of all your work wins. That way, you’ll have a list of clear accomplishments to draw from when you approach your boss about a raise.
“Jot down your achievements throughout the year and save testimonials from colleagues and peers in a folder online that I like to refer to as the ‘kudos file,’” Salemi suggests. “These accomplishments will serve as talking points when approaching your boss. And this will be useful when it’s time to update your resume (which should be refreshed regularly) for your next external job interview.”
Jennifer Schwab, who founded a a six-week long mentorship program for young women entering the workforce called ENTITY Academy, says that you should also prepare some ideas for your future at the company.
The mistake: You don’t know what to ask for
Before you ask to get a raise, know exactly what number you’re aiming for — and make sure that’s reasonable.
“It’s not enough to just want to be paid more,” Schwab says. “When negotiating a raise, general numbers aren’t going to cut it. Once you’ve finally worked up to starting the conversation, you need to come prepared with exactly how much you expect to earn.”
She suggests taking the time to research salaries for your position and using those numbers as a benchmark; sites like PayScale and Glassdoor can be helpful.
“After that, do the math to see how much you’re worth. Add up what you did for the company in the last year and try to monetize that,” says Schwab. “And if you’re working for a smaller company or a start-up, then you can pitch a mix of salary, bonuses, equity, or profit-sharing options.”
Experts also say you shouldn’t focus on money alone. Consider what other benefits or perks you could ask for, too.
“There are dozens of other benefits you should take into consideration when negotiating a job offer — like commuting, work flexibility, vacation time, and more,” Harvard Business School professor Mike Wheeler tells HelloGiggles.
The mistake: You bring up the conversation at the wrong time
There will never be a “perfect” time to ask for a raise, but some times are better than others. This isn’t a casual conversation, so don’t treat it like one. Ask your boss for a time to sit down together privately. Plus, gauge what’s going on at the company as a whole before you ask for a raise.
“Maybe don’t try to ask for a raise when the whole team is in crunch mode before a big event or major presentation,” Kat Cohen, CEO and founder of educational consulting company IvyWise, tells HelloGiggles. “Also, try to avoid scheduling this sort of conversation during any sort of crisis or challenging time for the company. Instead, time a discussion to address a raise after you have accomplished something big, or wrapped up a large project.”
Another thing to note: Don’t ask for a raise too soon after starting a new job.
“Typically, companies will evaluate an employee’s potential for a raise every 12 months,” Jennifer McDermott, a consumer advocate for personal finance comparison website Finder.com, tells HelloGiggles.
She says that unless your position has changed, you’ve taken on new responsibilities, or you’ve achieved unprecedented success, asking for a raise before the 12-month mark can come off as “entitled rather than ambitious, and could hinder your chances for progression down the line.”
The mistake: You don’t know where you stand with your boss
Scary as this sounds, it’s important to have regular check-ins with your boss to ensure they are happy with your performance.
“Even if you are content with your salary, you should be scheduling regular check-ins with your boss to discuss your performance,” Cohen says. “This way, when it is time to ask for a raise, you are already comfortable evaluating your work and understand your value to your team. This also helps to avoid any awkwardness should you and your boss not see eye-to-eye about the quality of the work you are delivering.”
Plus, these check-ins are a great opportunity to talk with your boss about your future at the company. Showing drive to succeed within the organization is never a bad thing, and when your boss is next evaluating who should get a raise, they may remember your enthusiasm and future plans.
The mistake: You bring personal issues into the mix
Talking about money is hard, and you may want to get a raise because of something happening in your personal life. But it’s not a good idea to bring up your personal issues during this particular conversation: Stick to rational points, not emotional ones.
“Sure, you may want a raise because your living expenses have increased or you have mounting debts, but your reasons for wanting a raise should be related to your performance, not your personal situation,” McDermott tells HelloGiggles. “If your manager feels emotionally manipulated, they may get on the defensive and be more likely to shut the conversation down.”
The mistake: You compare yourself to others
Yeah, it’s totally tempting to bring up someone else’s salary in this type of negotiation…but you shouldn’t.
Negotiation consultant Devon Smiley tells HelloGiggles, “Saying ‘Melinda is earning $75,000 and I should as well’ isn’t going to help your manager or director build a business case to get you the raise you’re looking for.”
Instead, Smiley says, focus on your own successes and contributions.
The mistake: If the conversation goes badly, you react poorly or give up
It can be very upsetting to ask for a much-deserved raise and hear that the answer is no. But how you take the news and your behavior going forward can determine how your boss will respond when you ask to get a raise in the future.
“If your manager denies your request for a promotion or a pay raise, listen,” career coach Chris Castillo tells HelloGiggles. “While your ego may be bruised, consider the feedback they’re trying to give you, and ask what else you need to be doing to get yourself to the next level.”
Even though you may be frustrated or upset in the moment, react calmly and ask for constructive feedback.
Asking for a raise is intimidating. But being prepared goes a long way — and even if you don’t get that raise, you’ll walk away with ideas on how to improve and thrive in your job.