How to Ask for a Raise

Never threaten to quit if you don't get a raise you ask for.

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It’s rarely a good idea to simply walk up to your boss and tell him you need more money. Before you talk to him, take some time to do a little research and get everything in order to give you the best case to present to him. Here are some tips:

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1. Check the going rate. What are other people being paid for similar positions? Do some research on the current compensation structure for your position before considering how much to ask for. This information can be useful when you bring it up with your boss. The information you find on related salaries will vary, depending on location, level, and company size/structure, but it should give you a general idea of the market-competitive compensation in your area.

2. Factor in your experience. Consider your experience and training when asking for a raise. They both increase your value as an employee, so make sure you point this out.

3. Look at your overall compensation package. Your approach to asking for a raise will depend on how you are being paid. In some positions, you may make only a base salary, while others will pay commissions or bonuses. If your package weighs heavily on commissions and performance-based bonuses, the conversation will be centered around your personal performance.

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4. Be ready to show your accomplishments. When it comes to convincing your boss that you deserve a raise, you need to be specific. Make sure you come up with a reasonable list of why you should be paid more. You should be well aware of what you’ve accomplished for the company, clients you’ve landed, and your contributions and increases in responsibility.

5. Consider your tenure with your employer. If you’ve been with a company less than a year, it is probably too soon, unless you negotiated something during the offer process to have a formal review (with a potential salary increase) in a specific time frame. Employers typically give formal reviews on an annual, bi-annual, or quarterly basis. If you recently started a position, you may have a 90-day formal review. If you took the position at a lower salary than what you had hoped (and your employer knows this), you could plan to have a conversation at this point to review your progress. Otherwise, a general rule is to be with your company for a year.

6. Analyze the timing for the business. Do you have a new boss? A new CEO? Have there been any major shake-ups? Is the company struggling and cutting costs? If so, you may want to wait until the changes settle and the company is in a position to look at an increase.

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How to Ask for Your Raise

Avoid springing the discussion on your boss. Set up a meeting and make sure he understands what you want to discuss. During the meeting, you should be well prepared to discuss your contributions and what you are ultimately hoping to receive. Don’t make your boss guess at what you want.

Using examples, such as another employee is making more than you or that your cost of living is higher these days, will not settle well when asking for an increase. It needs to be based on your personal performance.

What if you get turned down for your raise? The best way to handle things is to calmly ask why you were turned down. If the reason is performance based, this is the time to discuss what specific actions you should take in order to be eligible for a raise next time.

Keep in mind that you should never threaten to quit if you don’t get a raise, and never pit two companies against each other with an offer in hand, hoping to force your employer to present you with a counter-offer to stay. Both these methods are more likely to backfire, and you might find yourself looking for a new job than increasing your compensation.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.