“I want a raise.” Four short, simple words that, when rattling around inside your head, sound perfectly reasonable. Giving actual voice to the thought “I want a raise” is, however, usually not simple at all. In fact, asking for a wage/salary increase is probably one of the most difficult and uncomfortable things you’ll experience at any job (other than being let go, of course).
You don’t have to struggle when asking for a raise, however because it can actually be a very simple thing to do, especially if you treat the task like a project, as if you were making a presentation, because that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.
Here, then, are some things for you to remember when you’ve decided that you are going to ask for more money:
- Are you asking or are you telling? First things first. Is this a request or a demand? If you’re demanding a raise, be prepared to not only be turned down, but perhaps turned out as well, if not immediately, then as soon as your employer decides how to make do without you or replace you. And make no mistake, no matter how valuable you are, you are not indispensable. Now, that’s not to say that every employer considers asking for more money an act of disloyalty, but be sure your case in support is solid. And if you’re going to issue an ultimatum, be prepared to follow through.
- Do your homework. Is your company solid financially? If you’re not sure, find out. There’s no point adding to the money issues the company may be facing. If your employer can afford to increase your compensation but not to the level you’d like because of financial restraints, accept the raise with gratitude. Resentment against your employer if they’ve done what they believe is the best they can do is a bad idea, even if you think the organization could have done more. Unless you’re the CFO, you probably really don’t know the full story about the company’s finances anyway.
- Are you asking because you think it’s time? If your request is based primarily on the fact that it’s time for an annual review and you should be getting a raise, those days are gone. In fact, many employers now go out of their way to let new hires know, both during the onboarding stage and by way of applicable sections in the personnel handbook, that wage increases are no longer automatically tied to performance evaluations.
- Are you worth it? This is the threshold issue, isn’t it? Assess your worth. Make a list of your accomplishments, your skills and what value you’ve added to the enterprise since you were hired or last given a raise. Be honest with yourself. It can get tricky when it comes to persuading others about how much you’re worth. Your ego is not your amigo if you allow yourself to exaggerate what it is you’ve brought to the table or what you’re committed to contributing going forward. Now put this information into a format that can be easily understood when presented.
- Politely schedule an appointment and politely advise as to what you want to discuss and politely… . You get the point. Be professional, be civil. Don’t surprise the employer in the hope that lack of preparation will make it harder to turn you down. It won’t.
- Do. Not. Be. Angry. No matter the outcome, reacting with anger rather than responding with grace will likely doom any future request on your part. Show strength of character. It will pay off in the long run, figuratively and perhaps even literally.
Asking for a wage/salary increase is probably one of the difficult things you’ll experience as an employee. But you don’t have to struggle when asking for one. Download this PDF for tips to remember when asking for a raise of your current salary.