Most employees fear asking for a pay raise because they get nervous about being rejected.
“They may feel like their employer will view them differently if they ask too soon, or that they will come across as too greedy,” says Adam Ochstein, founder and CEO of StratEx Partners, a Chicago-based provider of HR services and software.
Loads of people end up leaving money on the table because they’re too scared to ask for what they deserve.
Here are nine tips for asking for a raise:
1. Don’t expect it.
Ochstein says the biggest mistake employees make is assuming they deserve a raise because they have been with the company for a certain amount of time. “There needs to be a strong argument built as to why you deserve it.”
2. Come to the conversation prepared.
Employees should come prepared with evidence to how they either directly increased revenue or cut company costs, Ochstein says. “They should also bring their job description of what they were hired on to do, and then be able to explain how they have exceeded those responsibilities since they were hired, or since their last promotion.” The key is to bring anything to the meeting that is metric-based to benchmark against.
3. Explain how you’ve contributed to the company in non-financial ways.
If you are not in a revenue-driven role, explain how you’ve contributed to the company culture. “Were there any processes or procedures you put into place? These should all be brought to the table,” Ochstein explains. “You should be prepared to answer a manager’s question, ‘Apart from being here for two years, why do you deserve more than what I’m paying you to do this job?'”
4. Know the market.
If you’re confident you’ve built a strong argument, you have to be realistic in what amount you are asking for, he says. “This means researching the market to see what other professionals in that industry at the same level are making. There are plenty of websites that can help estimate a salary.”
5. Don’t discuss with coworkers.
Employees should never ask other staff what they are making, how much their salary increases were by, or how often they received raises, says Ochstein. “Plus, the last thing you should ever do is use the argument that another employee received a raise when asked why you deserve one.”
6. Know when to ask.
Never ask for a raise right after a good (or especially a bad) performance. “Not after bad performance for obvious reasons, but not after a great project was completed because to the employer it may seem like you were strictly motivated by the potential of a monetary raise, rather than just being a hard-working employee,” Ochstein explains. “It would be best to wait a month or two after that achievement, so that it’s still fresh in the manager’s mind.”
7. Figure out if your company can afford to pay you more right now.
You shouldn’t approach your manager for a raise when your company as a whole isn’t profiting, or if it just lost a major account, regardless of whether you just had a personal victory or not. “On the flipside, a good time to ask for a raise is if the company just landed a great account and is looking to hire staff to manage it. Employees should meet with management and say they are not fully maxed out and want more responsibility, and to expand their role rather than hiring new employees.”
8. Don’t make it about you.
When asking for a raise, avoid making it all about you and using “I” and “me” in the conversation. “You should always link individual performance to departmental goals, and then to overall company goals and how what you’ve done directly impacted each,” Ochstein says.
9. Be ready to hear “no.”
Employees should also avoid getting defensive if the request is rejected, he adds. “Rather than storming out and bad mouthing the company, ask how a raise can be achieved in three, six, or nine months,” he says.
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