How to Make the Case for Your Next Raise

Have you been feeling distracted by financial stress at work? If you suspect you’re overdue for a raise, it’s not a bad idea to step back and assess things from your boss’s point of view before submitting your request.

In this post, we’ll highlight a few strategies for building a case for why you deserve a raise at your next performance evaluation. We’ll also explain how this kind of positivity can help you nurture your own best talents and professional tendencies.

Get the Timing Right

As you assess your own budget halfway through the year, you may find yourself feeling undervalued. It may be tempting to walk in and demand a raise one Monday morning after a weekend of stewing, but this just isn’t a wise approach. There are two cardinal rules not to break when asking for a raise:

  1. Don’t give your boss an ultimatum.
  2. Don’t go in without a plan.

Before asking for a raise, think through what you’re asking for, why you should get it, and what you’ll do if your boss says no. Within your plan, you should consider your company’s financial cycles, whether that’s monthly or annually.

It may be wisest to plan your ask around your annual review or after the completion of a big project where you’ve really proved your worth.

When it comes to day-of execution, it’s crucial to know your boss’s moods. If it feels wrong to ask on the day you’ve chosen, wait for a better day. When you ask for a raise, you’re entering into a conversation, and it’s important that you read the room you’re in.

Know Your Value

You may have a strong sense of how much you’re worth instinctively, but it’s important to ground your value to the company in as much quantitative data as possible. To strengthen your case:

  1. Do market research to see where you fit within the local market. Sites like Glassdoor.com and Payscale.com are a good place to start if you’re looking for a general estimate. You can also talk to your coworkers if you feel comfortable doing so. Anything you can do to get a ballpark will help strengthen your case.
  2. Track your accomplishments and communicate your wins. Your company’s HR may have a plan or software in place that tracks employee growth at your company, but you can do a lot by keeping track of your own wins. If you’re not sure if this is the case, don’t hesitate to reach out to them and ask.
  3. Compile a list of your professional accolades, including positive feedback from clients or colleagues. Quantify your successes as much as possible and focus on positive, business-driven outcomes.

At the end of the day, your boss may measure your performance against your job description. One of the best ways to stand out is to demonstrate that you have taken on more responsibility in addition to excelling against the benchmarks that were set for your performance.

Practice Your Pitch

While you shouldn’t have a script that you’re reading aloud, it can’t hurt to bring in a few notes. Structure your argument to emphasize any data you have on hand, and be ready to provide a copy to relevant parties if you have a written argument that helps make your case.

However you choose to prepare your notes, don’t go in cold. Sit down with a friend or colleague and go through the conversation. Try approaching it from different angles, and note where you struggle. It may sound intimidating to do this exercise, but it’s an effective way to find out how you’re presenting yourself.

Choose someone you’re comfortable talking to and ask them for concrete feedback on your pitch. This practice conversation should feel awkward: asking for a raise from your real boss will too.

Position Yourself Toward the Future with Enthusiasm

Be ready for a “yes” or “no.” You may not get what you’re looking for in this meeting. You may not get an answer right away. But that doesn’t mean you won’t eventually.

Be prepared for rejection and plan how you’ll handle yourself emotionally. It’s normal to feel hurt, sad, or disappointed. What’s important is that you conduct yourself professionally in and out of the room.

You may get a “not right now” and performance tips to accompany this. Take these notes in stride and embrace the opportunity to improve your performance.

Always Ask Questions

Whatever the answer, you should be prepared with questions. As in any interview, having questions on hand demonstrates that you’re prepared and that you’ve thought through every possible outcome of this conversation.

If your employer can’t raise your wages, they may be able to negotiate around perks. When it comes to things like a small retirement contribution or matching plan, you may find you’re able to gain traction.

Show that you’re forward-thinking to drive home your personal investment in your future at this company, and you’ll find that value reflected back. 

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