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 a raise, you need to ask for it. If you want to ask for a raise but aren’t sure how, here are some dos, don’ts, and Power Phrases.
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.
POWER PHRASE / What to say: “I’d like to set a time to discuss my compensation. What works for you?”
POISON PHRASE/ 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.
POWER PHRASE / 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.”
POISON PHRASE/ What not to say: “You should have told me what I needed to do to prepare for the raise.”
3. Arrange a meeting specifically for discussing salary
DON’T: Bring it up casually.
Why not?: Your boss may not be in a good frame of mind to discuss the issue.
DO: Ask for a separate meeting.
POWER PHRASE / What to say: “I’d like to meet with you in the next week to discuss my salary. What works for you?”
POISON PHRASE/ What not to say: “Hey boss, how about that raise?”
4. Go in with documentation, not just to convince your boss, but to enable your boss to sell the idea to his or her boss
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 the ladder, especially when the decision goes beyond normal procedures.
DO: Have written documentation your boss can use to convince others.
POWER PHRASE / What to say: “I’ve got records of my contributions and projected value for your consideration. Would you like extra copies?”
POISON PHRASE/ What not to say: “I believe I contributed X amount.”
5. Discuss your desire for a raise in terms of the value of your contributions
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.
POWER PHRASE / 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…”
POISON PHRASE/ What not to say: “I need a raise because I have five kids in college.”
6. Ask for what you want – not just 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.
POWER PHRASE / What to say: “My research leads me to believe that based on my contribution to the company, I should be making $X.”
POISON PHRASE/ What not to say: “I deserve $X but I don’t expect to get it, but could you get me $Y?”
7. Consider alternatives to salary increases
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.
POWER PHRASE / What to say: “I understand the freeze on salary increases, and I’d like to consider alternatives to a salary increase.”
POISON PHRASE/ What not to say: “If there’s a freeze on salaries, I might as well give up.”
8. Let your boss know if having your request denied might be 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 strong negotiating tool.
DO: Let the boss know when an offer is unacceptable.
POWERPHRASE / 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.”
POISON PHRASE/ What not to say: …Don’t keep silent while secretly plotting.
9. Summarize and confirm the decision
DON’T: Assume understanding.
Why not?: It’s easy to misunderstand each other.
DO: Confirm the amount, the date of effect and any future implications.
POWER PHRASE / What to say: “Let me make sure my understanding is correct. My understanding is that we’re agreeing to X effective on (date.) Is that correct?”
POISON PHRASE/ 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 favor.
Why not?: It’s your right to have your salary reviewed, but your boss is certainly busy and should be appropriately acknowledged for taking the time with you.
DO: Show calm appreciation whether you like the outcome or not.
POWER PHRASE / What to say: “Thanks for working with me on this.”
POISON PHRASE/ 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.
About the Author:
Meryl Runion and Speak Strong (SpeakStrong) provides Power Phrases (PowerPhrases) and other tools to help you improve communication skills at work and at home. You can read more about her at www.speakstrong.com.
Meryl is the author of six books on communication that have sold over a quarter million copies worldwide, including Speak Strong, PowerPhrases!, How to Use PowerPhrases, Perfect Phrases for Managers and Supervisors, and How to Say It: Performance Reviews. You can reach her at 719-684-2633, or by email: E-mail Meryl.
You can also follow Meryl on Twitter: http://twitter.com/merylrunion.