The Dreaded Raise Question

Asking for a raise can be scary! Here are my top 7 tips to ensure you have the best chance of getting a yes!

“Women asking for raises should not only know their value, but they should ask with the confidence that they’re helping the company to be successful.” 
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

We all want to get paid more, so why is it so hard to ask for a raise? No matter how valuable you are to your company, sitting down with your boss to negotiate a pay increase is stressful AF. I’ve always dreaded it, and for that reason have often put it off. The problem? If you don’t ask, nothing will change. You’ll end up staying at the same salary until you either leave or get up the nerve to ask.

The Role of Gender

Male or female, I don’t know anyone who enjoys the process of asking for a raise. But when you look at the research it becomes apparent that women struggle with it even more.

There’s been some controversy lately on whether or not women actually ask for a raise less often than their male counterparts, but it’s pretty clear that we’re not getting the same advantages. It can be (and has been) argued that women are more reluctant to ask for raises, and when we do, are more often turned down. We don’t negotiate as strongly as men and that is a factor when it comes to the gender pay gap. The whole ‘being agreeable’ thing we’ve been raised on is seriously damaging our earning potential. 

So, what can we do about it? There are right and wrong ways to ask for a raise, and today I’m breaking down the strategies that have worked for me in the paste.

Plan Ahead and Do Your Homework

It’s likely that a chat about a promotion will catch you off guard. You’ll either have a scheduled performance review or you’ll be taking things into your own hands by requesting a sit-down. That’s bad because you actually have to follow through, but good because you have time to prepare. And prepare you must!

Never walk into a meeting expecting a raise with no evidence to back up why you deserve one in the first place. Make a mental list (or write it down) of your biggest and best on the job accomplishments and how they have positively impacted your workplace. This can be a cost-saving measure you suggested or a program to improve efficiency or boost morale. Whatever it is, make sure you are prepared to prove your worth.

Raises are Normal but Not the Norm

Asking for a raise is not some crazy out of left field question. If your boss has been a boss for a while, they’ll have been through this same conversation many times. You might be freaking out about asking but for them, it’s likely just another day at the office. They’re not on a mission to make you uncomfortable.

With that said, though, don’t go in expecting a raise just because you’ve made it through another work year. Hard work should be rewarded. But you’ll know better than anyone if you’ve actually been putting in the effort. There is nothing rare about getting a raise, but that doesn’t mean you deserve one for coasting. Asking for a raise can be scary! Here are my top 7 tips to ensure you have the best chance of getting a yes!

Run the Numbers

More often than not you will be asked how much of a raise you want. Go in knowing that number.

The average annual raise is about 3% but you’re not locked into that. If you are just plain awesome or maybe took on more work then feel free to bump that up a bit. I even like to shoot a little high, so there’s some room for negotiation. You’ll know your boss the best though and will know if high-balling will work.

It can also help to break it down to a monthly increase. That way it doesn’t look like such a big amount (classic sales tactic!) Let’s say your current salary is $50,000/year and you are looking for a 5% raise. That’s an extra $2,500/year or a just a measly $208/month 😉

Know Your Industry

Do your research and figure out what other the standard salary for your industry is. This will help you nail down a number and keep you in the right ballpark. That’s the second baseball analogy I’ve used in this post, I must have the Blue Jays on the brain or something!

If your current salary is well below the industry average then it’s easy to make a case for a raise. If you’re already getting paid that or higher you’ll have to work a little harder. Come armed with examples of how you go above and beyond the standard job description.

Don’t Suck

Obviously, this goes without saying, but you should have a pretty good idea of whether or not you’re doing a good job. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you’re consistently screwing up or making bad decisions, then it’s probably not the best time to ask for a raise.

Maybe table the whole raise discussion for a few months and focus on being a better employee. Build up your portfolio of positive contributions so you’ll end up with a yes instead of a no.

Take No for an Answer, and then Work Harder

You don’t always get what you want, it’s a fact of life. If you do all of the above and the answer is still a no take a deep breath and don’t freak out. You could be the best employee who ever existed but maybe your company is going through a rough patch. Sometimes budgets have to be limited and raises are often one of the first things to go. If that’s the case, don’t get dejected. Figure out what you can do to help get things back on track and ask again when the situation improves.

Maybe you think you’re working hard but your boss disagrees. In that situation, ask what you can do going forward to make it more likely you’ll get a raise next time around. This will make your boss see that you’re still willing to work hard and not just go and pout. And then make sure you actually do what they suggest.

Alternative Options

Your salary is not the only component of your employee package. Maybe your company provides employee benefits, matches your RRSP contributions or is even willing to pay for some schooling. Know what’s available to you and take advantage.

If they’re paying for benefits then treat yourself to a massage every so often. And if you aren’t taking advantage of a matching savings plan…well, you’re nuts (see my rant here). All of these can also be factors that you can use in your salary negotiations. If there’s a course you feel would make you more valuable to your employer bring it up and see if they’ll cover the cost. There are also vacation days or flex time you can bring into play. If you aren’t able to get a raise in salary, maybe you can get a few extra vacation days thrown into the mix.

If you got a ‘no’ based on budget restrictions then consider asking for more vacation, or the ability to work from home periodically, or Fridays off in the summer, or a higher match on your savings plan.

Hopefully, these seven tips help motivate and inspire you to have the raise conversation. Ready, set, go get yourself that raise! You got this!

Have a story about asking for a raise, and hopefully getting it? Share your story in the comments below and help motivate everyone else! 

Asking for a raise can be scary! Here are my top 7 tips to ensure you have the best chance of getting a yes!
This post was proofread by Grammarly.

More Like This

4 comments

  1. Asked about a raise this year for the first time! Sooo scary but glad I did it. As we're public raises are not much and basically out of our hands, but I figure if you don't ask you definitely don't get 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh! I remember the first time I asked for a raise! It’s probably one of the hardest things to do in your career!

    I’m so glad I’m in the military now, where I get a raise twice a year! They’re not always huge, but I know when to expect them and that they’ll always be there.

    Great tips here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.