What To Say If You Want A Raise, But Aren't Sure How To Go About It

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You may have a job you love, though it may also come with some challenges, such as office politics or having to work a lot of overtime. While you don’t think those are too big a deal, something else may be — asking for a raise. You flash back to your initial interview with the company, when they said you’d be eligible for a raise at the one-year mark after your annual review. However, perhaps it’s been more than a year and you have yet to broach the asking-for-a-raise topic. Well, you’re probably not alone. If you are not sure how to go about it, knowing what to say if you want a raise will make things much easier.

“Women typically are much less likely to ask for a raise, because they’re afraid of seeming difficult or less likable (and research shows that women who negotiate are actually perceived as less likable, so this is a rational fear),” Emily Shutt, ACC, Money Mastery Coach, tells Bustle. “However, negotiating your salary throughout your career is crucial to closing the gender wage gap — whether you see it as a ‘necessary evil’ for the good of womankind or as an opportunity to develop confidence in your ability to articulate your value in the workplace — it matters.” Shutt also says asking is worth it, as it often results in getting the raise.

“What most women don’t realize, but research supports, is that in the majority of cases women who ask for raises do get them; they just ask for them way less often, and that’s the problem,” she says. “While there also needs to be a cultural shift around how we perceive women who negotiate, by failing to do so for fear of seeming less ‘nice,’ we shortchange ourselves financially (and emotionally) long-term, and only add fuel to the fire of wage inequality in the workplace.”

Like Shutt says, the key is asking in the first place. If you want to know exactly how to prep and what you should say if you want to ask for a raise, here’s what some career and finance experts advise.

1Make A List Of Personal Wins Before You Meet

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Chances are, you probably make more of a difference at your company than you realize — in a good way, of course. And, once you start writing them all down, they’ll probably add up to many more than you thought.

“In preparation for the salary conversation with your boss, first start by making a list of personal wins,” Brianna McGurran, student finance and careers expert at NerdWallet. “Do this regularly so you don’t forget the amazing work you do. Start a Google doc or email draft and jot down metrics or pieces of praise that demonstrate your value to the team."

2Make Sure You're Having Regular Check-Ins With Your Boss

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Even if it’s not the time of year you’re going to ask for a raise, Maggie Germano, Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women, suggests checking in with your boss regularly if you're not doing so already. “Most bosses are not going to decide to give you a raise or promotion on their own,” she tells Bustle. “You need to ask for it, while also showing that you deserve it. So if you don’t already have regular check-ins, set them up. Meet weekly or bi-weekly to let your boss know what you’re working on and any successes you’ve had. Also, make sure to ask your boss for feedback from them. This can be a difficult conversation to have, but it’s so important!”

In asking for feedback, Germano has a few ideas. “Ask if there is anything you can do better, if there’s anything you’re already doing well, and if they have any advice for moving up within the organization,” she says. “Then, when you’re ready to ask for a raise, use one of these regular meetings to do so, and make sure you bring your research and proof of why you deserve the raise!”

3Talk To Mentors In The Same Industry And Do Research To Figure Out The Raise Amount Beforehand

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You still may not know how much of a raise to ask for, and that’s where talking to mentors in your field comes into play. McGurran says to do this to determine how much more money you should ask for. “The average raise varies across industries, and some companies have more room to boost your salary than others, depending on performance and budget,” she says.

You should also look online. “You can find the going rate for your role using tools like LinkedIn Salary, PayScale and Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth estimator, so you’ll learn if you’re underpaid based on industry and location,” McGurran says. Germano agrees about assessing what others in your job are making. “With all this information in hand, you’ll be able to point to it to back up your ask,” she says. “Your boss (and HR) will see that you have legitimate salary data, not just the desire for more money.”

4Choose A Monetary Figure And Stick With It

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You may not be comfortable asking for the raise amount you really want — and deserve — but now’s the time to practice asking for it. “Make sure you also get clear on how much money you really want, not just what you think you can get,” Germano says. “What you desire matters!”

5Set Up Your Asking-For-A-Raise Meeting In Advance

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While you may be having regular check-ins with your boss, it’s also good to schedule your asking-for-a-raise meeting in advance. “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.”

Now that you’ve done the asking-for-a-raise prep work, it’s time to put all of the above into action and talk to your boss.

6Start Out The Meeting With Gratitude

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Chances are, your boss is a busy person, so every minute of their day counts. Appreciate that they’re taking time to meet with you. “When you get in there, thank them for meeting with you and share an overview of the purpose of the meeting,” Shutt says. You can say something like, “I’ve been a part of this team for ‘x’ amount of time and have really enjoyed being a part of the overall success of the company. At this point, I’d like to discuss my compensation and how it reflects my contributions.’

7Be Clear When Talking About Your Value To The Company

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You should know, inside and out, what value you add to the company when you meet for your raise, “In this discussion, it’s important to not focus what you want to do for the team, but what you’ve already accomplished,” Simoncic says. “This is your time to shine, so think carefully about which accomplishments you’d like to highlight and how you can relate them to your organization’s broader mission. Finally, use the power of measurable data to help build your case — if you contributed directly to a 10 percent increase in appropriate handwashing behaviors in your busy emergency room, or brought in an additional $35k in revenue as compared to last quarter.”

8Keep The Meeting All-Business, Not Personal

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Perhaps you’re having financial troubles at home — your partner was laid off or you lost a side hustle you had. While these are significant problems, Simoncic advises to keep your raise meeting all-business and to keep your personal needs out of it. “When we’re really in a crunch, it can be easy to succumb to the temptation of appealing to your employer’s emotions,” she says. “However, that doesn’t mean you should bring that into the conversation. Your employer is ultimately concerned with what you bring to the table as a member of the team, not with your struggle to get to work.”

Kavita Sahai, coachultant (coach + consultant) and ounder of HaveBigPlans.com, also recommends leaving the personal out of it. “The key is to focus on why you deserve it instead of any personal reasons you may need it,” she tells Bustle. “For example, ‘I am enjoying my role taking charge of ‘x’ and feel like I have achieved ‘y.’ According to industry standards, a typical person in this role would earn ‘z,’ and I would greatly appreciate your consideration and advocacy to get me to that same level.’”

9Be Confident About The Amount You’re Seeking

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Shutt says to have a precise monetary amount in mind, based on all the research you’ve done in advance. “Have a precise figure that you’re aiming for, and state it confidently when it’s time,” she says. “You’ve come all the way to this point, so don’t freak out and mutter some arbitrary range of numbers that are higher than what you make right now! Having a precise figure indicates that you did your research and that you have some backup for your number.”

Shutt also says to make sure you are being realistic about that figure. “Of course, if the salary you’re looking for is twice the norm for your industry and experience level because you completely made it up, that’s going to be obvious and won’t be taken seriously. But if your research reveals that you can reasonably anticipate earning anywhere from $60-75k in your field at your level, I’d recommend going in with something like $72k versus saying that you’re fine with anything in that $60-75k range. Be precise.”

10Practice Your “Asking For A Raise” Speech With Friend

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Since asking for a raise can be intimidating, write down what you will say, then practice it out loud. McGurran suggests writing out a script. “Practice in advance with friends, family, or in the mirror, and as many times as it takes to feel comfortable,” she says. “You can even write down the top points you want to make on an index card and refer to them during the conversation with your manager. Your ask should clearly communicate what you’ve done to deserve this raise, and how your work and growth will solve problems for the company. Try this: ‘I’ve been thinking a lot about how I see myself growing at the company. I’ve done X, Y and Z, and I’d like you to consider having my salary reflect this performance. With increased compensation, I feel I can continue making worthwhile contributions here.’’

What To Do If You Get A “No”

Even after doing all of the above, there is a chance that your boss may decline your raise request. Shutt says that, in this case, you have two options.

“If you receive feedback that it’s not in the budget, thank them for their time and let them know you’d like to revisit the discussion in a few months when additional funds may be coming available,” Shutt says. “Don’t try to negotiate after annual raises have already been announced; the funds have long since been allocated at that point and it’s very difficult for company leadership to make changes at that point in most cases. Instead, remember to bring it up at least a few months ahead of when raises are usually announced, so that it’s on leadership’s radar that you’re actively seeking an increase in compensation and they can plan accordingly.”

Shutt says all is not lost, though, if you get turned down. “You can counter with other perks like additional time off, work-from-home days, or other benefits that are valuable to you,” she says. “A lot of times, companies are more than happy to work with you in other ways to keep you satisfied in your job, even if they truly can’t match your compensation request in that moment. However, don’t let that deter you from negotiating future raises or seeking other jobs if you feel your compensation is still inadequate after several negotiation attempts.”

As you can see, asking for a raise isn’t about just arbitrarily walking into your boss’s office one day and catching them off-guard. Rather, like many things in life, it’s about preparing for the talk first, then going into it as your most confident self. In no time, hopefully you’ll have that raise that you deserve.