7 Ways To Prepare Yourself Before Asking For A Raise

So you've had the same job for a while. You've been working hard, showing up early, and staying late. In fact, the whole office would probably fall apart if not for you. And it's got you thinking — maybe it's time to ask for a raise.

You totally deserve it, and yet I'm sure there are some doubts and worries floating around in your mind. This is a totally normal response to such a situation. I know I've felt nervous asking for a raise, and I've seen friends of mine crumble at the very thought. Why do we get so nervous? After all, a job is for making money, and yet the idea of marching into the boss's office and asking for more it often sounds completely ludicrous.

Of course, not everyone has these worries. Lots of people confidently defend their paychecks, and move up the corporate ladder with ease and aplomb. But then there are the rest of us, who quake and worry and think "eh, I'll just do it another day."

Unfortunately, the latter is often the case for women, who are less likely than men to ask for a raise, according to Jennifer Ludden on NPR.org. It's usually because women who ask for raises are viewed as aggressive, so we put it off in favor of being well liked. Don't let this get to your head. If you think you deserve a raise, then go defend your right for a bigger salary, a higher position, and more job perks.

If you've decided now is the time to ask for a raise, then here are some tips for preparing yourself for that big meeting with the boss

1. Figure Out If The Timing Is Right

If you've been feeling underpaid for a while, then it might be tempting to get all fired up and march into your boss's office on some random Tuesday. Don't do this. Resist the urge, and instead plan your next move carefully.

One reason to plan ahead is that some companies have a pay raise policy, which may affect whether your boss can even give you a raise, Helmrich noted. If that's the case, your request may be for naught, so check in the employee handbook for policies. "While there are occasions when employers may give raises outside of their standard practice, your boss will appreciate that you took the time to research existing company policies before approaching them," Helmrich added.

Once you figure out if the timing is right, then schedule your meeting several days in advance. (Like I said, no marching in on a whim.) As Josh Sanburn noted on Time.com, "The worst thing you can do is pop into your boss’s office unexpectedly with a request for more money, so you’ve got to get the timing right. First, schedule a meeting with your boss — at least several days in advance, ... and be mindful of the manager’s schedule.”

2. Know What Kind Of Money You're Talking About

Once the meeting is set up, take some time to figure out what your position is worth. That way, when your boss starts slinging figures around, you'll know exactly what to accept.

It can be helpful to check out the market, or do a little spying into what other people make in your field. According to Sanburn, "Some professionals tend to ask their own friends and colleagues, but that’s not always the most reliable indicator. Instead, check your own human resources department, which often has salary ranges on file." The more knowledgable you are, the less likely you'll be to fall for lowball offers

3. Consider More Than Just The $$

It might end up that your boss simply doesn't have the money to offer you a raise. This is especially the case in small companies, so be ready with other negotiations and suggestions. As Sean Blanda noted on 99u.com, "Numbers are only one side of the equation ... If you’re stonewalled on the salary, you can also discuss: accelerated review schedule, additional vacation, conferences you’d like to attend (or other educational opportunities, relocation fees, [or] an altered bonus structure." These are some nice perks that can improve your job experience, and make you feel more valuable, even if the money isn't available.

4. Make A List Of All Your Achievements

Part of asking for a raise is proving your value to the company, reflecting on your overall performance, and showing the boss how you're worth the extra investment, Helmrich said. So start making a list of ways you contribute to the company, times you've gone above and beyond, and any special projects you've been working on — basically all the ways you stand out from other employees.

When you meet with your boss, be ready to go down the list of all your accomplishments. "Start with the most recent ones and work your way backwards," said Dawn Rosenberg McKay on About.com. "Describe how those accomplishments benefited your employer. Be very specific. For example, don't just say you increased profits. Prepare to tell your boss how much they increased and what role you played in making that happen." You should also come supplied with suggestions for the future. Not only is this mega impressive, but it will encourage your employer to keep you happy so they can enjoy your innovative ideas for years to come.

5. Practice Your Speech With A Friend

Unless you have the confidence of a god, asking for a raise is probably going to be a bit nerve-racking. So don't go into your meeting cold. Take some time to practice in front of the mirror, making sure your body language come across as confident.

You can also do a run through with a friend. Ask them to throw in some curveball questions, and make up several different scenarios. That way you'll be prepared for anything, no matter what your boss throws your way.

6. Be Prepared For Silences, And Use Them To Your Advantage

Something to keep in mind before talking to your boss is how you plan to handle those awkward pauses — because they will happen. The cool thing about them, though, is that they can be totally worked to your advantage. That's because people naturally want to fill silences. If you stay calm and wait your boss out, he or she may naturally try to fill the void with some suggestions, such as higher salaries or other bonuses.

All you have to do is pause, stare contently at your boss, and remember that "you’re in control of the conversation," Blanda noted. It may sound kinda creepy, but it works like magic.

7. Figure Out How To Respond If You Get Turned Down

So you practiced in front of the mirror, showed up with your list of skills, and rode out those awkward pauses like a pro. And still the boss could turn you down. What are you gonna do if that happens? Will you quit? Will you thank him or her for their time, and then wait a few more months to ask again?

Make sure you have a plan for how you'll handle rejection, and keep in mind that it really depends on why you were turned down. See how it makes you feel, weigh the pros and cons, and then do whatever feels appropriate for the situation. But keep in mind that practice makes perfect, and you could have better luck trying again in a few months. As Sanburn noted, "If it doesn’t work out this time, you’ll at least know how the process works and what you need to prepare yourself for next time."

And don't be afraid to have a next time, because your career is in your hands. Remember to stand up for yourself, and go after whatever salary you think you deserve.

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