Asking for money is never an easy thing to do — and it may be especially awkward at work.
But if you’ve been going above and beyond, or you realise you’re making less than the average worker in your position, it’s time to ask for a raise.
Once you decide to take the plunge, start constructing your argument, suggests Katie Donovan, salary negotiation consultant and founder of EqualPayNegotiations.com. The more prepared you are going in, the easier the conversation will be.
Here are seven tips for asking for a raise you’ll actually get:
1. Do your homework.
Before ever speaking with your boss, research the market value for your job to figure out what someone in your position with the same level of education and years of experience typically gets paid, and where your salary falls in relation. “Look for what companies typically pay, not what you need to survive on,” Donovan says.
She suggests looking up your position on jobs sites like PayScale or Glassdoor; checking out the trade association for your industry; or speaking with a headhunter to garner a better idea of what the average pay looks like.
2. Don’t wait.
Start preparing your research the minute to realise you’re not getting paid enough. Don’t wait for your annual review or for your boss to to start the conversation. “You need to ask for it or you won’t get it,” Donovan says.
3. Ease into the request.
Instead of jumping straight into the numbers, start the conversation by asking about your job performance. “After your boss tells you what’s working and what isn’t, and has given you some compliments and things to work on, say: ‘Great, I’m glad you agree I’m doing such a good job, which is why I was surprised when I recently discovered that I’m making less than most people in comparable positions. How can we fix that?'” Donovan recommends. Then, give your boss a minute to consider your request, she says. Even though you’ve been thinking about this for weeks, it’s the first time your boss is hearing it — so they may need a few moments to digest the information.
4. Treat it like any other business meeting.
Don’t over-personalise the discussion. Avoid giving reasons such as, “I always work weekends,” or, “My husband lost his job,” and instead focus on your contributions to the company.
“Whether you’ve helped the business save money or make money, mention those accomplishments in your argument,” Donovan says. “If you’re having a conversation about dollars, mention your impact in dollars.”
5. Ask questions.
If the boss initially denies your request for a raise, you need to begin negotiating. Start by asking questions such as, “Why?” or, “How can I improve in my role to ensure a pay raise in the future?”
“But remember: questions, not demands,” Donovan warns. “You want to see how you can get what you want, which is to be paid appropriately for the job, and still play within the rules.”
6. Change your language.
If you aren’t getting anywhere by asking for a raise, rephrase your argument to ask for a “salary adjustment” instead. While the word “raise” implies you’re asking for something extra, the term “salary adjustment” emphasises that your salary isn’t on par with the market value for the position. Making this distinction can open up a new realm of negotiations, Donovan says.
7. Don’t get discouraged.
Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as smoothly as you had planned. Donovan says a raise can be a series of conversations over a few months.
Learn exactly why it isn’t possible right now, what you can do differently, and if there’s a potential for one in the future, she suggests. However, you should also prepare yourself for the worst. “If you realise there’s no way your company can afford to give you the pay you deserve, it’s time to start looking for a new job,” Donovan concludes.
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.