Asking for a raise is never simple or easy, even if it’s merited. Why? Because it’s not in our culture or nature. According to Jen Hubley Luckwaldt, writer for payscale.com “Twenty-eight percent of respondents to PayScale’s Salary Survey said they hadn’t negotiated salary specifically because they were uncomfortable discussing money.”
But the truth is, just because it isn’t comfortable doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Simply ask yourself these questions, “When?”, “Why?” and of course, “How much?”
WHEN: TIMING IS KEY
Sometimes the key to a YES or a NO when it comes to a raise is in the timing. Don’t do it when you know the company has just had some considerable expenses, like buying new office equipment. Avoid tax season. Try to schedule the meeting after you’ve just completed a high profile project successfully, after you’ve signed a big-budget client, or after you have exceeded your targets and KPIs.
WHY: MAKE YOUR CASE
"Be aware of your unique skill set," said Joel Garfinkle, executive coach and author of "Get Paid What You're Worth.” Identify your value and prove your overall impact on the organization. Gather data on projects that you’re working on that reflect how you are valuable to the company and therefore, should be adequately compensated. If clients have sent in congratulatory and other positive reviews of your performance, have those ready as well. Garfinkle adds, "Create fact-based quantifiable data of your accomplishments. That can be a very persuasive way to show the measure of the impact you've had on the company."
Review your job requirements and prove that you’ve not only checked all the boxes but have gone beyond them. Show how you’ve done your tasks well, and how you’ve taken the initiative to tackle tasks that are not necessarily part of your job description.
HOW MUCH: FIND YOUR MAGIC NUMBER
Writer Kelsey Clark gives this valuable tip, “When you walk into the meeting, you should have four figures committed to memory: your ask, your counteroffer, your bottom line for negotiating (the absolute lowest number you'll accept), and the national salary average for your industry and role.”
It’s important to benchmark your salary against industry standards. You can ask colleagues in the same position how much they’re making, but if you think that would create some very uncomfortable dinner parties, you can access online resources and job portals which provide the average salary or ranges for the industry instead.
Aine Cain, business strategy writer says, “As a general rule of thumb, it's usually appropriate to ask for 10% to 20% more than what you're currently making.”
Workplace expert and author Lynn Taylor advises that "If the original offer is on the low side of the scale, you have more leverage," she adds, "If you get an offer for 20% over your current salary, you can still negotiate for more — ask for an additional 5% — but know that you're already in good stead."
Asking for a raise is definitely an uncomfortable subject, but it’s a topic that just needs to be discussed. But remember that no matter how prepared you are for the meeting with numbers, reports, and messages, there is still a chance that your boss will say NO or say NOT NOW.
Sometimes it’s really just not a good time for the company. Not to worry. First, politely ask your boss why the raise isn’t possible. Second, you can also try to ask for more perks or benefits such as additional time-off in lieu of the cash. Finally, ask your boss when it would be a good time to revisit the subject or what plan you can both come up with so that you can achieve the compensation package that you are looking for.