Asking for a raise at work can seem terrifying. Not only do you have feel confident that you deserve more money, but you also have to have the gumption to ask for a raise, and then fight for what you want. Plus, you have to be prepared for pushback or a flat out “no” — which, all in all, can be a not exactly pleasant conversation.
This is hard for anyone, but research shows that it’s even more difficult for women to ask for a raise, since we tend to underestimate our contributions compared to men and are far more hesitant to ask — or demand — the salary that we deserve.
If you need some help getting that $$$, HelloGiggles is here to break down how to ask for a raise, speaking to three experts who know a thing or two about getting the paycheck you want.
Be on the lookout for signs it’s time to ask
When it comes to negotiating a raise, timing can really be everything. Asking too soon can be the kiss of death, so it’s crucial to keep an eye out for key indicators that a change in your salary is necessary.
Tom Dezell, career advisor and author of Networking for the Novice, Nervous, or Naïve Job Seeker, pointed out a number of scenarios to HelloGiggles where a raise is earned.
Rachael Bozsik, a confidence strategist and the CEO and founder of The Brand Girls, tells HelloGiggles that before you go in for a raise, you should be well-versed in the tangible value you bring to the company.
“I am talking time, energy, and money,” Bozsik says. “Showcase your value, sister! Prove that you are an asset.”
However, there is also a time of year when it’s traditional to ask for a raise. Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0, says you should talk about increasing your salary during your annual performance review.
“If your salary isn’t being reviewed annually, then you should speak with your manager towards the end of your fiscal year,” he says.
Once you’re sure it’s time to have this conversation with your superior, start preparing your list of contributions.
“Gather this information, store it in a Google folder, track your success, track your wins, and put it together in a powerful presentation and have it ready for when it’s time for that talk,” Bozsik says.
Figure out what is most important to you
While the purpose of a job is to make money, sometimes money isn’t the end-all-be-all.
Before anything else, “Take a deep self-awareness test and get incredibly clear on what is most important to you,” Bozsik says. “If you’d rather stay at the company than earn more money, take that into account, make note. If your salary is the most important factor at your job, then that’s important as well, jot that down. Be clear on your non-negotiables prior to asking for a meeting.”
Request a meeting
Now that you have prepared, it’s time to ask for a meeting with your boss — either in a private space in the office or an outside meeting at a time like lunch.
“Be clear that the meeting is to review your performance instead of mentioning that you’re looking for a raise,” Schawbel advises. “You want to show your manager that your focus is on your contributions instead of just asking for more money.”
Having some tact is essential to a successful salary negotiation. You can’t just walk into the meeting and demand more money.
“Start out by showing appreciation for what the company has done for you so far, then go into what changes in your role or information you have learned have lead you to believe your compensation may need adjustment,” Dezell says.
In the case of a more traditional review, Schawbel suggests starting the discussion with letting your manager discuss your contributions and how they feel about them. “By doing this, it will indicate how likely you are to get a raise. If they don’t appreciate your contributions, then it will be unlikely you will get a raise,” he explains. “Also, by asking for their opinion first, it makes it much easier to have the discussion especially if you’re feeling anxious about the meeting.”
What is most important though, Bozsik says, is being prepared and organized with your information.
“Organize your accomplishments, put it into a professional document, print it out, print it on nice thick card stock, feel free to put together a 10-slide Power Point, etc. Be fluent in how to articulate your value to the company,” she says. “Come extremely prepared and eager to share. Also be ready to share exactly what you are seeking. This may be an increase of 1% in your commission, an opportunity to be paid time-and-a-half on a specific project, raise, promotion plan for the next 3 months, etc.”
Do not be afraid to be assertive
Women oftentimes struggle to assert their salary desires.
However, Dezell says, “One factor that I’ve learned hurts less-experienced negotiators is the fear of being labeled ‘aggressive.’ Worrying about appearing too aggressive is likely a sign you’re not aggressive, since aggressive people don’t worry much about that.”
Being professional and aggressive is key to successful negotiations.
Be prepared for apprehension
It’s not unrealistic that your boss might not be ready on the spot to increase your salary, but don’t just accept this. Dezell suggests that if your boss isn’t super keen on paying you more, you should set performance goals and indicators that, when achieved, will lead to an increase.
Negotiate your wants
In the case of true reluctance, this is where identifying your core values comes into play.
“You want to be sure to have a few backup strategies. Be ready to negotiate. Be ready to ask for a plan to get you on track to that raise in a month, leaving at 5 p.m. on Fridays, paid phone bills — get creative,” Bozsik says. “When negotiating, keep in mind also that there truly might not be any room in the budget to give you a raise. Be understanding, but make sure to stay strong to what is important to you. It’s also important that you lay out those values before the meeting so that you are not swayed once you’re in there.”
Consider moving on
A company that consistently avoids upping your salary is likely not one you want to be at long-term.
“If they never want to give you a raise, and you feel like you deserve it, then it’s time to interview for new jobs,” Schawbel admits. “Sometimes companies will refuse to give you a raise so that you quit instead of them having to fire you. You either work harder for a future raise or you leave because you believe you’ll never get paid more there.”
However, as Dezell warns, it’s important to keep your search confidential if the only way to more money is a new job.