7 Things To Know Before Asking For A Raise For The First Time

Jacob Lund/Fotolia

A lot of us don't even know where to start when it comes to asking for a raise. A 2016 survey from Levo, an online community for career advice and more, found that over than 60 percent of millennial women weren't sure how to ask for a raise — and 63 percent of millennial women said that they were uncomfortable negotiating. But it's so important for people, especially women, to know what they're worth and to ask for it.

It can be hard to know when to start, but if you've been at a job for about a year or more it's time to start thinking about it. "Usually you would ask for a raise after a year but if you are going above and beyond in your role and responsibilities and in a creative position, I've heard of people getting a raise after three months," career coach and founder and recruiter of Ninja Recruiting, Jennifer Yeko, tells Bustle. "A year is much more standard of course, unless you're in sales or doing something that is bringing in revenue for the company."

Even if a year has gone by, if you've never asked for a raise before, it can seem really intimidating. Here's what you need to know about asking for your first raise, according to experts.


Valuing Yourself Is Important

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Even though it feels intimidating, it's crucial to remember that asking for a raise is a good thing. "One myth is that the very act of asking for a raise will prevent you from receiving it," life coach and career expert Nina Rubin tells Bustle. "The truth is that you value yourself and your work and it's OK to ask for a raise."

If you've done the work to back it up, your boss will likely be impressed that you know your value and were brave enough to step forward.


Make Sure You're Armed With Your Accomplishments

Hannah Burton/Bustle

Of course, it's important to make sure you deserve a raise before you ask for one. "Separate from needing the money, do you think you've done your best?," life coach and career expert Nina Rubin tells Bustle. "Have you excelled in 90 percent of the features of the job? Do you have a list of all you've done so you can prove why you deserve a raise?"

Make sure that you feel good about the work you've done and have a list of your wins ready before you ask for more money.


Timing Counts

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Your annual review may not the right time to be asking for a raise — it's actually better to start the conversation a few months before that. "Most companies only offer small yearly cost-of-living raises (if they even offer pay increases at all), which means the responsibility to dramatically increase your salary is squarely yours,” Teague Simoncic, career coach with Ama La Vida, tells Bustle. “If your company is one to offer standard yearly increases, schedule a meeting with your supervisor a few months before then to discuss your raise request in order to give them enough time to work it into the rest of that year’s budget changes.”

Another good time to bring up a raise if you've just received positive feedback, taken on more responsibility, or nailed a big project — your boss will have that fresh in their mind. Instead of throwing it into a conversation, ask to schedule a meeting.


Don't Be Afraid To Mention Weaknesses

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

It's important to come in armed with all of your accomplishments, but being honest about your weaknesses can help, too. "Say, 'Look, I wanna tell you, I’m really pleased with this, this, this, this, and this this year'," Sallie Krawcheck, the co-founder and CEO of online investment platform Ellevest, tells Bustle, tells Bustle. "In order to maintain your credibility, it can’t all be positive — [say things like] 'I could have done better on this,' or 'next year, I’m gonna work on such and such because I think I’ve got the opportunity to get better here.' There’s research that shows if you tell people you’re perfect, they will look for your imperfection. But if you actually tell people you’re imperfect, they’ll stop looking."


Have An Idea Of What You Want

Hannah Burton/Bustle

Saying that you want a raise isn't enough. For a strong negotiation, you want to have an actual number in mind. "I always recommend checking Glassdoor to see what comparable jobs in your industry pay as that can be used as leverage for a raise," Yeko says. "Generally, however, you will make more money changing companies as a competitor will often pay more. I know a sales Account Executive who just graduated from college who changed jobs after only six months because they got a $30k raise." At the very least, it's a negotiation point.


Use New Responsibilities Or A Title Change As A Jumping Off Point

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Sometimes at work you'll be given a new title — or so much responsibility you should have gotten a new title — but the company won't give you the financial boost to go with it. If that happens, speak up. "It all depends on the industry and job but showing numbers that show how you've contributed to the company's bottom line will always help you get a raise," Yeko says. "Also, if you've been offered a title promotion or are taking on a more more responsibility at work that is a good time to ask for a raise."


Even If You Don't Get It, It Can Be A Success

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

When asking for your first raise, remember that it's OK if you don't get it. "Either you'll get it, or you won't. If you get it, great! It was worth asking. If you don't, you'll know what you need to do in order to get the raise," Rubin says. If your boss says no, ask for some clear guidance about what you need to do to get a raise in the future and a timeline for when you might reach that.

Asking for a raise is scary but it's something a lot more of us should do. Knowing your worth and wanting to be valued is never a bad thing, just make sure to do ask for it at the right time and have the stats to back it up. Sometimes if you want more, you have to ask.