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How to Ask for a Raise… and Get It!

These days, being content with your employer is a double-edged sword. On one hand, working for a company you trust and respect can help you feel happier and more fulfilled. At the same time, staying with the same company longer than two years is a great way to earn less than your peers.

That’s why asking for regular raises is key if you plan to stick with your employer long term. In an economy that values growth over loyalty, your boss might need regular reminders of just how valuable you are to the operation. Here’s how to do it.

1. Make Your Case

No company hands out a raise just because you ask for one. Like a lawyer presenting a case, you need to provide solid proof that you’re worth more to the organization than your current salary would suggest.

First, make a list of your recent accomplishments and include specific outcomes. Instead of saying, “I increased our revenue,” say, “I increased our profit by 12% this past quarter, exceeding estimates by 5%.” Bring physical evidence like revenue reports, compliments from clients or feedback from other supervisors.

When I successfully negotiated a bonus at my last job, it was because I showed my boss how much money I had saved them over the course of the year. The implication was clear – if the management wanted me to continue saving them large sums of money, I needed to be compensated in return.

2. Practice Ahead of Time

Like a job interview, asking for a raise is a conversation that requires preparation. Unless you’re an incredibly gifted negotiator, you probably won’t have much success improvising.

Sit down in front of a mirror or with a friend, and outline your reasons. By repeating them ahead of time, you’ll be less likely to misspeak and more confident in your message. Your boss needs to see that you really believe in what you’re asking, so it helps to reinforce that belief ahead of time.

Have a friend give feedback or constructive criticism if possible. Record yourself on your phone or laptop if you can’t find anyone to critique you. Try not to fidget, speak in a timid voice or pitch your voice up at the end of sentences like you’re asking a question. The goal is to sound clear, relaxed and in control.

3. Have a Number in Mind

Asking for a raise isn’t a straightforward exercise. In most cases, you have to be sneaky to get what you want.

When your boss asks how much more money you want, give a number that’s bigger than your actual goal. They will often try to negotiate your number down, so starting with your actual target will just leave you disappointed. If you start high and then negotiate down, you can still end up with the raise you really want.

To find your dream number, compare your role to those at similar companies or estimate how much your company would have to pay a new hire to replace you. Those are the metrics they’ll consider when making a decision.

4. Ask for Other Options

If your company has a tight budget or doesn’t typically offer individual raises, think of something else you can ask for. Some people would settle for a few more paid vacation days or more work-from-home flexibility.

If your boss rejects the idea of a raise outright, having a consolation prize in mind could allow you to leave with something.

About the Author

Zina Kumok is a trained journalist and has covered everything from professional sports to murder trials. Now, she specializes in personal finance and has written for brands and publications such as Mint, Investopedia and Discover. She paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years.

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