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Build Your Career Get Ahead

Asking for a Raise? Take These 5 Important Steps

Asking for a Raise? Take These 5 Important Steps
Credit: Production Perig/Shutterstock

Asking for a raise is nerve-wracking. It comes with the possibility of rejection and dealing with your manager's perception of your work.

But you shouldn't be afraid to bring it up: According to the PayScale Compensation Best Practices Report 2016, 73 percent of employers consider their employees to be fairly paid, while only 36 percent of employees feel that they are fairly compensated. Sometimes, the only way to fix this problem is to ask for that raise.

While it may be a hard task to summon the courage to ask, PayScale indicates that 75 percent of people who ask for a raise, receive one. With the right preparation, your conversation with your boss can be productive and fruitful. Here are five important things to keep in mind when you're requesting a salary increase.

It may be tough to decide when it's the right time to approach your boss or manager about your raise, but timing truly makes a difference.

"If your company has a regular performance review schedule, try to have a conversation about your compensation a couple months in advance so that your boss has time to make a case and advocate for budget ahead of that process," Lydia Frank, editorial and marketing director for PayScale, wrote in a blog post. "If you wait for the performance-review process, often the decisions about salary increases have already been made by the management team."

Think about timing in terms of your company's overall performance as well, said Brian McClusky, human resources director at InkHouse.

"If your firm had just had an unprofitable quarter, lost a major client, etc., the timing may not be right to request a raise, regardless of how strong your individual performance is," McClusky said.

Characterizing your worth is a combination of the work you've done and the national average for your position. Take stock of what you've done and research how much people in the same field are making before you present the numbers to your boss during your conversation.

"Be realistic when reviewing the data, considering experience, location, education, etc.," said Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources at Indeed. "Once you've determined a comfortable range, develop a plan to broach the subject with your manager."

"Being able to take inventory of your work demonstrates self-awareness and the readiness to have serious conversations about your career," Ragini Parmar, vice president of talent operations at Credit Karma, said in another Business News Daily article. "For example, if you're looking for a raise or promotion, it's important to do your homework. You'll always be more effective if you're able to have a real data-driven conversation with your manager."

According to Hannah Morgan, the career expert behind Career Sherpa, a great way to keep your current boss up to date is by sending him or her a weekly or monthly email update. State what you accomplished in objective, measurable terms. And always try to tie your achievements back to organizational goals or how those accomplishments benefit the bottom line, she said in a Career Sherpa blog post.

How does your manager best process information? Are they data-driven? Subjective? If they are data-driven, lead with your research and clearly state your request, Wolfe said.

"If they are more subjective, start with what contributions you have made to the organization, your performance, and then give them an overview of the data and your request," Wolfe said. "Be prepared for them to say 'no.'"

Compensation remains a touchy topic at most companies, and the way you approach the situation will dictate the overall process. McClusky said that you should keep the focus on yourself and your own performance, rather than on comparing yourself to colleagues.

"Asking for a raise because you heard that a peer earns more than you diverts the emphasis from your own performance, and may also lack proper context," he said. 

Rejection is a reality when it comes to asking for a raise, and it's something you should be prepared for when you go into a meeting that's about getting a raise.

"You need to be prepared to hear 'no,' it’s possible that your company and/or your manager might not respond well to your request," Wolfe told Business News Daily. "What you do next lies in your hands."

Regardless of the outcome, just taking the chance can be a positive experience.

"It’s important that employees own their career paths and career development. Compensation is one part of this equation," Wolfe said. "I’d encourage folks to muster the courage to have these conversations."

Shannon Gausepohl
Shannon Gausepohl

Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field, and is currently a staff writer at Business News Daily. Shannon is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.