How to Ask for a Raise in 5 Simple Steps (You Got This!) But Also What To Do After

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For a lot of us, working up the courage to ask for a raise is a tough thing to do. Sometimes it's a lack of confidence, but just as often as not it's simple uncertainty about the words and the how-to. I can't entirely teach you the confidence part (though I try, in Step 4!), but I'll do my best to walk you through a simple step-by-step procedure and hopefully by the end you'll feel less anxiety and more sure about how to ask for a raise. And get it!

1. Make a list of all of your recent accomplishments

You need to have a clear idea of why you deserve a raise at all - if you come up blank in this exercise, then I suggest starting to think about where you can get some wins and show your best self to your boss before moving to Step 2.

Focus especially on times when you took initiative, did something that wasn’t asked of you or was above and beyond your job description, and of course those times where you really excelled. Big wins translate to money! Look for those.

If you’ve done loads of smaller things that you think still add up to something bigger, find ways to group them - for example, when I want to talk about gains in social media reach, following, newsletter subscribers, and blog reads I might capture all of that in a conversation with my boss by talking about “an increase in our audience online by x%”.

My bestie once told me, any time you can add a percentage or dollar amount to an accomplishment, the better. And I think she was right. I’ve never forgotten that. Numbers and percentages are concrete and remove any opportunity for your boss to feel unsure what your contribution really was.

2. Book a meeting with your boss

Make it clear that you want to discuss your recent performance and opportunities for growth.

You don’t need to specifically say you’re looking for more money until you’re in the meeting - but giving your boss a solid idea of why you want to meet just gives them a better chance to be prepared as well, and it’s much more likely they’ll be able to respond to your request quickly.

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3. Do your research

Consider what you want to be earning and research your role. Is this what other people in your role and sector can expect to earn? Or is this just what you want to earn?

There’s no reason you can’t earn more than others in your field, but you better know exactly why you’re worth it to your boss - commitment to your role, outcomes, and confidence are going to be key here.

Check out online resources like Glassdoor, ask a mentor you trust in your field, and/or find a sector survey that can help you determine whereabouts your role’s earning potential lands. And if it’s not where you want it to be - start sniffing around for ways to get a higher-paying role without leaving your job (we’ll cover that in another post!).

4. Confidence is key

One of my favourite pieces of advice over the years has been “fake it till you make it”.

I love the idea that confidence flows from confidence - even if it’s a little fake at the beginning. I’ve found it to be useful (works with smiling and happiness, too!).

There’s no point in going into a discussion about money without some confidence that you deserve a raise. Even if your boss is the nicest person on Earth, they have a bottom line to protect (this is true of all organizations, for-profit and not-for-profit) and the less they pay you the better their balance sheet looks. So if you give them a reason to believe you’ll take less, they’ll give you less.

I repeat: confidence is key here.

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5. Be straightforward and upfront

Once you’re in the meeting, there’s no need to hide your intent. Start confident, be straightforward, and lay it all out.

Tell your boss “I’d like to talk to you about my accomplishments this (year, month, period of time) and whether they might translate into an increase in my salary. Let me start by going through the pieces I think most demonstrate what I’ve contributed to the organization…” and then sell yourself! It’s not that hard, really. If you’ve taken the time to do Step #1 you’ll have plenty of things to say.

Don’t go on for too long, and watch for signs that your boss is sufficiently impressed ;-) and then cut to the chase.

Be calm and serious about how much you’d like in terms of a raise. If you know you want an extra %5, ask for a little more. Don’t go crazy, but consider a raise negotiation the same as any other negotiation - you’d start a little high if you were selling a car under the assumption that a prospective buyer would want to talk you down a little, right?

I’d give yourself the chance to earn more than you thought, and also get what you want if your boss wants to negotiate.

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NOW, what do you do after your boss gives you an answer?

There’s three possibilities of what can happen:

  1. Your boss says yes and you get the raise you deserve. Nice work!

  2. Your boss counters with another offer or some form of compensation in lieu. Yay!

  3. Your boss says no - but hopefully can at least tell you why not.

Either way, don’t just end the conversation there!

Regardless of the response you got, this is your opportunity to figure out when and how you can get a raise in future.

If you leave now, chances are you’ll walk back into your job feeling confused at best, disgruntled and maybe even unmotivated at worst.

Take charge of that emotion and find out what you need to know. Continue the conversation by thanking your boss but then asking for a roadmap that leads you where you want to be. Find out if raises are most likely to be delivered for a certain output or deliverable, or just time in (seniority).

Make sure to frame the conversation around what you can do and how you can serve the organization alongside your own goals. Confidence, but balance and contribution as well.

This kind of frank conversation will leave you with an action plan moving forward, which is what you need to ensure that your next conversation about getting a raise will be even easier!

P.S. Read Wild Women for a little more inspo to embrace your confident self!

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