What to say—and do—to get a raise

Asking for a raise

Raises are won in the months before you ask, when you’re taking action to show why you’re a star employee.

Everyone wants to make more money. But for some people, just the thought of asking their boss for a raise is enough to make them sick to their stomachs. Even for those out there with strong enough constitutions, finding the right time—and approach—to asking for a raise can be tricky.

Too many people waste their time planning elaborate speeches or trying to find the exact “right” moment to ask their boss for a raise. But getting a raise doesn’t come down to whether or not you talk to your boss between his second and third cups of coffee. Instead, raises are won in the months before you ask, when you’re taking action to show why you’re a star employee.

Below is a list of what you should say—and do—before asking your boss for a raise:

1. Vocalize your goals. Ever heard the expression, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”? While we’re not advocating complaining to your boss about being underpaid for your efforts, we do recommend speaking up about what you want to achieve both in your current role and during your tenure at the company. That also means asking for feedback. Starting a dialogue with your supervisor regarding how to meet your immediate goals and plan for long-term advancement makes him or her aware of your intentions to progress upward through the company. And because supervisor will be invested in—and anticipating—your success, he or she won’t be caught off-guard when you ask for a raise.

2. Take on more responsibility. Raises aren’t typically awarded just for sticking it out in the same position the longest. You have to demonstrate to your supervisor that you are capable of handling more responsibility and an expanded workload. So when you’re put on a new project, volunteer for extra responsibilities – and beat your deadlines. Your boss needs to see you take on more work with ease—not struggle to get it done.

3. Humblebrag. No one likes a braggart, but bosses can’t reward what they don’t know about. So share your accomplishments. If a project you worked on was a success, don’t’ be afraid to let your boss know that you were a part of a winning team. It will help build his or her confidence in your abilities.

4. Stick to the facts. Just like with writing a resume, it’s important to attach hard numbers to your accomplishments. Be prepared to share examples of projects you completed and how your efforts have positively affected the company. These are good indicators of your contributions and your future potential. For example, instead of saying you increased monthly sales, say you grew sales by 50 percent, at a value of $500,000 dollars.

5. Don’t complain. When you do have the conversation with your boss, don’t make it personal or complain. The fact that your rent went up or that you’re planning a big vacation are not valid reasons for being paid more money. Focus on your efforts and exemplary work history.

6. Do your research. Most raises are between 1 and 5 percent of your current salary. While you may feel you deserve a $10,000 raise, asking for too much money can be off-putting to your employer and discourage them from negotiating with you further. Research salary trends for professionals in your city with similar job titles, responsibilities and education backgrounds. You want to make the strongest case possible, and having data to back it up will help.

7. Don’t be discouraged if you hear “no.” If your boss doesn’t give you a raise this time around, it doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. This isn’t the end of your negotiation. If your performance reviews are annual, request a mid-year review to re-assess your progress and revisit the conversation. This puts you in line for a possible pay increase sooner, and communicates to your boss that you’re serious about the raise.

Still nervous about asking for a raise? Check out these gifs that capture what it’s like to go through a salary negotiation.