Getting a raise is a great feeling!
Asking for a raise? Um, not so much.
Requesting a salary bump can be nerve-wracking and is often guided by unwritten rules. Even if your manager likes you and thinks you deserve more money, they might not have the ability to give it to you. And simply asking the wrong way can turn a likely “yes” into a definite “no.”
What is the wrong way? While that unstated code of conduct can make things difficult, here are the some of the situations in which you can or can’t ask for a raise.
Do: ask because you’ve expanded your role
Taking on new responsibilities is a fantastic justification for a bigger salary. Not only are you providing more value to the organization, but you’re typically learning more skill-sets and tackling more important projects.
If you’re not sure how much your role has changed since you were initially hired, review the job description and/or your cover letter. How similar is your work? If more than 50% has changed, it’s definitely time to ask for a raise.
How to do it:
Say, “In the past X months, I’ve really enjoyed [moving into Y function, handling Z new duty]. To reflect my current workload, I’d like to discuss a raise.”
Don’t: ask because “it’s time”
At some companies, being in the seat for a set period of time is a good reason—sometimes the only reason for getting a raise. Hopefully, you don’t work at one of those places; this policy is bad for morale and discourages doing anything more than the bare minimum.
If your company doesn’t go by this rule, asking for a raise because, “you’ve been doing this for a while now” is a surefire way to lose your manager’s respect.
Do: ask because you’ve hit all your goals
Are you knocking your goals out of the park? Fantastic. Have you been knocking said goals out of the park for several months or quarters in a row? Even better, you should take that as a green light to have the raise conversation.
Consistently over-performing tells your boss you deserve a higher salary (and of course, the more ambitious objectives that go along with it).
How to ask:
Say, “As you know, I’ve been X-to-Y% over my goal for Z months. In line with our earlier conversations about pay, I’d like to talk about a salary increase in the range of…”
Don’t: ask because you need money
You might want a raise because you’re hoping to buy a house and some extra cash each month for the pricey mortgage. Or, maybe your nephew is about to head off to college and you are going to be covering some of the cost. No matter how reasonable the explanation,do not ask for more money because your circumstances have changed and you could use it. Raises are based on performance. This type of request will come across badly.
Do: ask if the market rate has increased
If you do some research and people with similar experience and qualifications are paid more, you can and should ask for a higher salary. Sites like PayScale and Glassdoor can help you find the average salary for your role and region. Keep in mind, the higher your city’s cost of living, the higher your pay should be as well, so an accountant in the Bay Area should make more than one in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
To get the most accurate numbers, reach out to people in your field. Say something along the lines of, “I’m trying to figure out what average pay is for this position. Does a salary in the range of X to Y sound right to you?” This way, you’re not putting them on the spot by asking what they make, which is understandably a little awkward for people you don’t know well or at all.
How to ask:
Say, “I’ve evaluated the market rate for this role and someone with my experience, responsibilities, and background tends to make [$X to $Y] more. Based on that, I’d like to discuss increasing my salary to [$Z].
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