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10 Tips how to ask for a salary increase

Do you think you deserve more for what you do at work? Here’s how to ask for a salary increase.

It happens occasionally. The boss notices what a great job you’re doing and he/she spontaneously offers you a raise. Yes, it does happen. But in most of our worlds, if you want an increase, you need to ask for it. If you're going to ask for a raise but aren’t sure how here are some dos, don’ts, and What to say Phrases.


Table of Content 

  1. Recognize that it’s both your right 
  2. Think Long-Term 
  3. Arrange meeting specifically for salary discussion 
  4. Go with Documentation 
  5. Discuss your desire for a raise in terms of the value of your contribution 
  6. Ask for what you want, not what you think you can get 
  7. Let your boss know if your request denied what will be a deal-breaker
  8. Consider Alternative to a salary increase
  9. Summarise and confirm the decision 
  10. Thank your boss appropriately

1. Recognize that it’s both your right and responsibility to ask for the money you think you deserve

Don't: Be intimidated or apologetic.
Why not?: You are responsible for looking out for your own needs. It’s unrealistic and even codependent to expect someone else to do it for you.
Do: Be your own best advocate.
What to say: “I’d like to set a time to discuss my compensation. What works for you?”
What not to say: “I hate to bother you with this, but…”


2. Think Long-Term

Don't: Leave your raise to chance.
Why not?: Planning increases the likelihood of success. If you express your desire to advance early, your boss can partner with you to do the things that will qualify you when the time comes.
DO: Lay the groundwork for the next raise long in advance.
What to say: “I’d like to discuss the expectations I have for my salary targets this year to make sure we’re on the same page and to determine that my performance is in alignment with those targets.”
What not to say: “You should have told me what I needed to do to prepare for the rise.”


3. Arrange meeting specifically for salary discussion  

Don't: Bring it up casually.
Why not?: Your boss may not be in a reasonable frame of mind to discuss the issue.
Do: Ask for a separate meeting.
What to say: “I’d like to meet with you in the next week to discuss my salary. What works for you?”
What not to say: “Hey boss, how about that raise?”


4. Go with Documentation 

Don't: Think that your boss is the only person you need to convince.
Why not?: Often bosses need to be able to justify their decisions up to the ladder, especially when the decision goes beyond standard procedures.
DO: Have written documentation your boss can use to convince others.
What to say: “I’ve got records of my contributions and projected value for your consideration. Would you like extra copies?”
What not to say: “I believe I contributed X amount.”


5. Discuss your desire for a raise in terms of the value of your contribution 

Don't: Focus on your own needs.
Why not?: You are paid for performance, not needs.
Do: Come prepared with research, performance documentation, and projections of what you have done and what you can and will do to save time, make money, and make the boss look good.
What to say: “In the past six months I’ve saved the company X$’s by…” “In the past six months, I’ve made the company money by…” “I am in an excellent position to earn the company money by…” “Company policy indicates that I should receive a raise of…”
What not to say: “I need a raise because I have five kids in college.”



6. Ask for what you want, not what you think you can get.

Don't: Limit yourself by not asking for what you really want.
Why not?: It’s easier to lower your request than to raise it.
DO: Ask for what you believe you deserve or a little bit more while avoiding making a frivolous request.
What to say: “My research leads me to believe that based on my contribution to the company, I should be making $X.”
What not to say: “I deserve $X, but I don’t expect to get it, but could you get me $Y?”



7. Consider Alternative to a salary increase

Don't: Restrict yourself to money only.
Why not?: There might be something your boss can offer that has as much or more value, such as time, services, or a new title.
DO: Go in prepared with acceptable alternatives.
What to say: “I understand the freeze on salary increases, and I’d like to consider alternatives to a salary increase.”
What not to say: “If there’s a freeze on salaries, I might as well give up.”



8. Let your boss know if your request denied what will be a deal-breaker

Don't: Plan to leave without letting the boss know you’re considering it.
Why not?: The possibility of your leaving can be a reliable negotiating tool.
Do: Let the boss know when an offer is unacceptable.
What to say: “If that’s the best we can do, out of fairness to you, I need to let you know that I have another offer / I will be considering employment elsewhere.”
What not to say: …Don’t keep silent while secretly plotting.



9. Summarise and confirm the decision 

Don't: Assume understanding.
Why not?: Misunderstanding each other is easy.
DO: Confirm the amount, the date of effect and any future implications.
What to say: “Let me make sure my understanding is correct. My understanding is that we agree to X effective on (date.) Is that correct?”
What not to say: “Great! Bye!”



10 Thank your boss appropriately  

Don't: Act unappreciative or so overly appreciative you indicate the boss is doing you a favour.
Why not?: It’s your right to have your salary reviewed, but your boss is indeed busy and should be appropriately acknowledged for taking the time with you.
DO: Show calm appreciation whether you like the outcome or not.
What to say: “Thanks for working with me on this.”
What not to say: “Thanks for nothing.” Or: “I can’t believe I got so huge a raise!”

While I can’t say it never hurts to ask, it seldom does, and it often pays. Many people complain about not receiving a raise they never asked for. Don’t be one of them. If you truly deserve a raise, be sure your actions reflect it. Be pleasantly persistent until you get what you want or at least until you decide you’ve given it your best shot.

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