The Right Way to Ask For a Raise

By Mel Sim

Go in prepared to come out with a bigger pay cheque

When I was a junior editor, I walked purposefully into my boss’s room, sat myself down in front of him and asked if we could talk about a raise. He calmly stopped doing whatever he was doing and asked me why I thought I deserved a raise.

I was young and inexperienced then so I didn’t really think through this part (rookie mistake!). So I mumbled something about having a lot of work to do but not getting the salary that I thought I should be getting and how surely I have proven myself after a year plus working in the company.

Needless to say, I didn’t end up with a raise. Luckily, my boss was kind enough to humour me and instead told me what I needed to show if I really wanted that raise. So off I went back to my seat, tail between my legs, completely dejected.

The important lesson I took from the experience? You don’t just get a raise simply by asking. Like my boss said, I needed proof, I needed something to show that I was worthy of a raise. And how do you do this? Here are three tips according to career experts.

#1 Find the right time to ask for a raise
I went in guns blaring asking my boss for a raise without thinking that maybe it wasn’t quite the right time to do so. The company could be cutting down on budgets for my department or even putting out a salary freeze. Bottom line is there’s always a right time for everything, especially when more money is involved.

So when exactly should you be asking for a raise? Experts say the following are ideal:

  • During your annual performance review, especially if you’ve had stellar review. Plus, the topic of salary is often expected when talking to your boss about your past-year performance.
  • After completing a super important project for the company and achieving great results. Think of it as ammo on why you deserve a raise!
  • When the company is doing well. Your boss is happy, his boss is happy, everyone is happy. And if the company is showing some great financial results, it’s ideal to ask for a raise. Asking for more money when your boss is stressed? Wrong move.

#2 Build Your Case
Asking for a raise is like you being a lawyer defending why you should get more money. You wouldn’t go into a courtroom completely unprepared without the evidence, right? So neither should you do the same when walking into your boss’ room to talk about a raise.

The best way to do this is to list down your recent projects where you exceeded in terms of your input and performance. Be as specific as possible; your boss will want to see real data, numbers, results. Don’t use personal reasons as to why you need a raise; higher cost of living or a new mortgage isn’t exactly the reasons why you deserve more money.

One more thing – it’s good to have an exact figure or percentage in mind, just in case your boss wants to know what kind of an increment you’re looking for. Knowing what others in the same position with the same responsibilities are earning is a good benchmark.

#3 Prepare your script!
OK, you’ve made an appointment with your boss to sit down and have a serious chat. You’ve got everything ready to convince your boss why you deserve that raise. Now it’s A-game! Do the following:

  • Be clear. Leave the uhms and ahs out. Go straight to the point (don’t bother making small talk or it’ll add to your nerves instead) and say something like, “I’m interested in discussing my salary; is this something we can talk about now?”
  • Be confident. You want that raise? Act like you deserve it. Being confident tells your boss you’ve given this a long and hard thought, and truly believe you’re deserving of that raise instead of someone who’s just trying his luck. A raise usually comes with more responsibilities so if you’re not confident, how’s your boss going to feel like you actually deserve that bump up?
  • Be specific. This is where you go down to the details and tell your boss exactly why you deserve that raise. Talk about quantifiable results your boss should already be well aware of.
  • Be enthusiastic. If you go in there and show you’re really gung-ho about getting what you deserve, there’s a high chance you’ll get it (if all other factors are right too). But if you go in there and meekly ask for a raise without showing any excitement at all, you can say bye-bye to a higher salary.

Everything went well, your boss said to give him some time to think about it or even bring it up with management. So now what? Do you just wait and see what happens? If you think you deserve that raise, you have to work hard for it all the way till the end to see it through. End your meeting with your boss by asking when you can expect to hear back. Until then, give your boss some space and continue doing the good work you’ve been delivering. When time’s up, schedule another meeting with your boss and hopefully you’ll get some good news.

As for me, I worked harder after that conversation with my boss to prove my worth by acing the tasks handed to me. Before long, my boss was the one who called me into his room to tell me that I am getting a raise!

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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