Asking your boss for a raise can be quite a nerve-racking experience, but if you're working hard and feeling underpaid, requesting a pay increase may be the only solution. You can't just waltz into your boss's office and ask for more money, however. To ask for a raise the right way, you'll have to take some time to research, plan and prepare.
Business News Daily asked experts what things employees should do before requesting a salary increase. Here are 15 things you absolutely must do before you ask for a raise.
Time it right.
"Find the right moment to ask. This is not something to do when you are unhappy in your job or if the boss is under pressure, possibly in an unhappy place of their own. Be strategic when looking for this conversation." – Brendan King, CEO, King & Bishop
Drop some hints for your boss.
"Prepare your manager for the salary conversation. Don't surprise them, because they won't be prepared to find and allocate the resources or the permission." – Claudia Telles, founder, Trailblazing Business
Schedule time to meet with your supervisor.
"Set a time to have this meeting. Don't do it on the fly or when your boss is distracted. Don't schedule more than 30 minutes — that's the most you should need." – Sheryl Raskin, founder, Out There Creative Media
Create a support system.
"Last but not least, seek out and cultivate appropriate internal advocates and support. These are the people who will promote you and your good work. It is essentially nonaggressive evangelism. They may be managers senior to you in other departments, vendors or peers." – Roy Cohen, career coach and author, "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide" (FT Press, 2010)
Check your company's policy first.
"It's certainly important to research your company's pay-raise policy ahead of time. This may often be posted within your company's employee handbook. While there are occasions when employers may give raises outside of their standard practice, your boss will appreciate that you took the time to research existing company policies before approaching them." – Chris Costello, principal and founder, CBG Benefits
Figure out where the company stands.
"My suggestion to employees is to take a long, hard look at the company's economic health before asking for a raise. If you ask for a raise when the company is clearly struggling, not only will you not get the raise, but you will also raise doubts in the employer's mind about your professional savvy." – Cheryl Palmer, certified career coach and owner, Call to Career [See Related Story: Dear Brittney: I'm Overworked and Need a Raise ]
Take time to self-reflect.
"Assess your relationships with employees above you and below you, and create a vision in your mind of how people perceive you. Ensure you are not blindsided by a blemish on your personal brand due to intraoffice conflict." – Samirat Rivers, director of operations, FPC National
Present your case the right way.
"If [your boss] is logic-based, create a spreadsheet or graph on your accomplishments. If she is more social, relate anecdotal stories that demonstrate your accomplishments. If she is concerned about what others think, show testimonials from customers, vendors or other employees within the company." – Beth Meixner, founder and president, Moxxie Network
Don't make it personal.
"When comparing wages, factor in the company size. If you work for a small business with 10 employees, your boss won't be able to compensate you the same way a Fortune 500 company could. If you have facts and figures to back up your request, and are paid less than colleagues at other firms, this can help your boss see that it's time for a raise. This strategy works because it's not personal. It's based on the position. You're asking for a raise to compensate you at the current market rate for people with your same title, not [asking based] on your merit. This makes it difficult to deny your case." – Deanne Arnath, president and CEO, Career Wizards Inc.
List your accomplishments.
"Make a list of all the measurable ways you've gone above and beyond before you do anything. Plant the seed with your boss that you'd like to be considered for a raise and that you'll be coming with a document which justifies your request. Doing this greases the skids and prepares your boss for the conversation." – Mark Strong, life, career and executive coach, Mark Strong Coaching
Think about the future.
"[Don't just] recount all of [your] contributions and achievements. A more effective approach is to look to the future. What challenges and opportunities face your organization? You have to convince your boss that you are critical to meeting those challenges and capitalizing on opportunities. Do this by volunteering to work on the tough assignments and by drawing a line of sight from your capabilities to the challenges at hand." – Donna Svei, executive résumé writer
Have a number ready.
"Be prepared to ask for a specific number. When you're asking for something, it should be quantified in some way. Do your research on what the going salaries are for people with your experience level." – Michelle Mavi, director of content development, internal recruiting & training, Atrium Staffing
Consider more than just money.
"Prepare to possibly negotiate around vacation days or bonus incentives. Adding three or four extra days per year can work in place of salary, and bonus incentives work well for both sides. It keeps in place checks and balances for doing your job." – Michelle Joseph, founder and CEO, PeopleFoundry
Practice makes perfect.
"Practice! Give consideration to how your boss may react or what questions they may ask." – Xari Chartrand, HR business partner, Halogen Software
Test the market.
"You can test the market by talking to a recruiter about your value in the market or by applying for a real vacancy. This isn't about having a plan to leave if you don't get the raise, but it will give you a reality check and something to point to if you are being underpaid relative to the market." – Corrie Shanahan, CEO, The Beara Group
Business News Daily social media specialist Dave Mielach also contributed to this story.