Most people cringe at the thought of asking their boss for a pay raise. But if you don't work for a company that gives its employees regular annual salary increases and you're not up for a promotion, it's the only way to get that raise you know you rightfully deserve.
Even more uncomfortable than asking for a salary increase? Going through a salary negotiation. Doing this successfully means knowing your boss and how they function. Some will argue that there's never the perfect time to ask for a raise as there are always things going on, but it should go without saying that asking for a raise at a sensitive time – such as when the company is laying people off, your department had low numbers for the quarter, or your boss is dealing with a difficult personal situation – is not a good idea.
If you can schedule a meeting with your boss in advance instead of knocking on their door and popping the raise question on them, it will show that you are considerate of their time. If your boss is especially busy on a certain day of the week, scratch that day off your list.
Once the meeting is scheduled, treat your meeting prep like a college research report: dig up information, make notes compiling and editing your data, and put it together as one polished product. Here's what you should cover in your salary negotiation.
1. List out your accomplishments from the past six months, year, and lifetime with the company.
Make note of how your accomplishments made a positive impact on your department and company as a whole, with specific numbers and statistics if possible. For example, you could say: "In the past year I generated 5,000 leads for the company – an increase of 8 percent from the prior year. The resulting sales equaled $58,000 in new business." It would be hard for any manager to turn down a raise request with numbers like those. The stronger data you have, the greater case you can make for a well-deserved raise.
2. Know what a competitive salary looks like for your position.
On sites like salary.com and payscale.com, you can look up job listings that are comparable to your current job to get a general idea of the market average and how your current salary compares. Make sure to take company size and benefits into account. Corporations tend to pay more than small businesses and certain industries also tend to have higher pay scales. Of course, some companies just don't pay well, which is why it's best to consult hiring experts when possible. If you have any connections with local recruiters and hiring managers (perhaps on LinkedIn) you can ask them if they would look at your resume to provide you with a realistic salary goal for your position and experience.
3. Let your boss know what's in it for them.
In a salary negation, your boss does not care about your mortgage payments or the tropical vacation you want to go on. Your boss cares about what's in it for them. You've already explained what you've done for the company, but you'll also want to explain your plan for the future. Create a list of goals with a plan on how you will achieve those goals for the company.
4. Be confident.
Be confident when asking for a raise and use your lists as your support system. Be prepared for some push back and know that the answer could be no. If you are given the raise, be prepared to continue to work hard. You knew you should get a raise; now show your boss you deserved it.