Maybe you’ve been in the same position at the same company for a while. Perhaps you think you’re slightly underpaid. Or maybe you’re doing extra work (making up for a colleague who quit recently or because your company is going through a temporarily hectic time) and haven’t received a commensurate increase in pay. If you feel like it’s time to ask for a raise, review these dos and don’ts before you step into your boss’s office:
Do prepare a list of reasons you deserve it. Put together a list of your accomplishments since your last raise, especially the ones that have had the greatest impact. While being overworked is an understandable reason you might feel deserving, you’ll be much more convincing if you cite tangible examples of your contributions and your plans to continue to add value.
Don’t focus on your cost of living. Rent went up? Lots of bills? Your boss might empathize, but those aren’t good reasons to request a raise. Your best bet is to focus on your performance at the company rather than go for the “pity ask” and bemoan all of the ways your current salary isn’t enough to meet your living expenses.
Do research salaries in your area. If you suspect you’re underpaid for the job you’re doing, dig up some data. Websites like PayScale.com and Salary.com are great resources to help you research and compare average salaries in your market. Look at job duties and not just job titles. You’ll also want to make sure you are informed about things like economic growth and average salary increases in your city and state.
Don’t be unrealistic. Be reasonable. Asking to increase your salary from $55,000 to $90,000 because you’ve taken on the jobs of multiple people or are acting more like a manager than a staff member might result in a flat-out “no.” It’s okay to ask for what you want but understand that a counteroffer is likely and there’s a good chance that your boss will need to clear your request with his or her superiors and Human Resources.
Do be positive. It’s always a best to start any salary conversation on a positive note. Let your boss know that you look forward to continuing to work hard for the company. Even if part of your motivation is that you feel a little unappreciated, focus on the good: what you like about your job, what you want to bring to the table going forward, and specific goals for your future.
Don’t get discouraged. If your boss counters with a smaller increase than you hoped for, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Request clearly defined goals that you can work toward to earn an increase in the months to come. Ask for opportunities for growth and development.
There’s no reason to be afraid to ask for a raise, but you’ll do yourself a big favor by going into the conversation prepared. Develop a solid list of the achievements you’ve had and the ways you’ve made a difference. Make a compelling case for why you’re a reliable employee that your company wants to retain. You’ll mature from the experience either way, but hopefully, you’ll also get that bump in salary you want.