Many people are afraid of asking for a pay raise. They either feel awkward about initiating a conversation with their bosses or are worried that they would sound greedy. Asking for a pay raise is perhaps one of the most nerve-racking conversations. It is not surprising as talking about money is still taboo. A Payscale study found that only 37% of respondents have asked their current bosses for a raise. They overcame their fear and prepared to make a valid case, backed up with facts and examples. Good preparation helps avoid hearing a straight ‘no’, and leaves room for a negotiation. To prepare well, here are some guidelines:
1. Build your case. Many people assume that they need to prepare a solid presentation about why they need a pay raise. In fact, your request can be short. You should give legitimate reasons and stress why you are important to the company. Also ensure that your pitch is about the company, not just you. For example, you should explain how your responsibilities have increased, and what contributions you have made to the company. Make your case limited to a few key points, and highlight your accomplishments.
2. Think of a precise number. You need to know how much you would like to earn and be ready to give a straightforward answer, once asked. That number should be research-based, or you can ask your peers in similar positions how much they make. You should ask more than one person. Ask at least 5 people to find out the industry standard. Although it might seem weird or uncomfortable to ask peers about money, this information is essential for making an informed request.
3. Turn ‘no’ into a polite request. If you do not get a raise, ask your superior what you need to do to get one. Do not let the conversation stop without getting specific information. If there are changes that you can make, do them, and then come back. However, if your superior keeps moving the finish line, you are never going to succeed. One option is to simply leave the company. Another option is to think about other things you might need. If your boss cannot increase your base salary, consider negotiating for extra time off, removing responsibilities that will not lead to a salary raise or even more equity if it is a startup.
4. Discuss the next steps. If your manager is open to your request or has approved it, don’t leave without discussing the next steps. Consider asking them to put your raise agreement in writing, and don’t forget to loop in human resources (HR) and/or payroll staff. If a raise is future-dated, still ask for that approval in writing and then make sure that the raise actually occurs when it is supposed to. If your manager asks for having this discussion at a later date, put a reminder in your calendar to follow up.
5. Thank your manager. Regardless of how the conversation ended, thank your manager for their time. Later that day or the next one, send them a follow-up e-mail which outlines your reasons for a pay raise and sums up the conversation you had. If your manager needs to discuss your pay raise with someone else, this e-mail will be helpful to them. If they reject your request, this e-mail will be a record of that conversation. If you decide to request a raise later, you can use this e-mail as a reference.