17 Tips To Help You Get A Raise

17 Tips To Help You Get A Raise

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Asking for a raise isn’t easy, or comfortable, but if you want more of anything, you have to go after it yourself. If you prepare yourself for the meeting and use these tips, you will be better positioned to comfortably ask for what you want…and get it. (Or at least come closer to what you ask.)

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1. Know The Field

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Before you approach your boss, determine if you are being underpaid. Research salary levels for your position and find out what you’re worth in the marketplace. You can ask peers in your field what they get paid, but don’t be surprised if they are not forthcoming. Many people do not like to discuss salary. You can go incognito by finding this information on getraised.com, payscale.com, or glassdoor.com. You might even want to go on interviews to learn about salary levels at competing companies. You will help yourself if you come to your boss knowing industry salary levels for your position in your geographic location and knowing your worth based on your experience and credentials.

2. Know The Policy

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Review your company’s policies. Before you request a raise in salary, first find out if your company allows pay increases at random times of the year. Start by reading the employee handbook or company intranet. You can talk to someone in human resources and ask what the policy is for offering pay raises. Must you first have an annual performance review? Are salaries set according to a fixed schedule or seniority? Ask for a meeting only if you know you have a shot.

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3. Make An Appointment

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Do not have an impromptu meeting about your potential raise. The water cooler, the hallway or the elevator are no places to discuss this serious matter. Schedule a meeting, and when you do, let your boss know you want to talk about your career growth. It will give your boss a chance to prepare for your meeting, advises Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job. Also, do not make your request by email. This meeting requires face time. If you do not work in the same location as your boss, of course this rule does not apply.

4. You State The Amount

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When you have your meeting with your manager, supervisor, or boss, make sure you are the one to specify the amount of your desired raise. It’s doubtful he or she will readily agree and send you skipping back to your cubicle. Your figure will undoubtedly begin negotiations, but when you state the figure, you set the anchor from which the person opposite you will counter with a lower figure. It will be more difficult for you to negotiate up from a number the other person sets. Read on to find out what kind of figure you should request.

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5. How Much To Ask?

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When it’s time to state a figure, experts say it’s a smart idea to request a salary range. One benefit is you can make the bottom figure the amount of your desired raise. Then, there’s nowhere to go but up. Of course, as with almost everything, the opposite is also true. A paper out of Columbia Business School found that stating a very precise and unusual number, $64,500 for instance, may get you closer to your goal. The reasoning? It will appear you’ve done your homework to reach that number. The study was conducted on hiring negotiations, but the lead researcher, Malia Mason, a professor at Columbia, tested this theory in many venues. If you want to combine both strategies, pick an unusual figure near the top of your range. For instance, if your range is $68,000 – $72,000, say $71,250.

6. Timing. Timing. Timing.

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The best time to ask for a raise is when you’re being asked to increase your workload or just after you completed a big assignment, says Kathleen McGinn, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. This is the time your value as an employee is on your boss’ mind. If that opportunity is not presenting itself, then just before the budget is set is another good time to request more money. You want to avoid asking for a raise if your employer is having financial troubles, if there is uncertainty in the industry, or if people are being laid off. (Asking for a raise in this case will, at best, make you appear insensitive to your boss’ plight as well as to your former coworkers.) Also, waiting for a performance review might work to your disadvantage if budgets were already set.

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7. Ask When You Are A Happy Employee

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If you are not happy in your workplace, will more money really make a difference? Approaching your boss when you are disgruntled or resentful because you are being underpaid will probably not go in your favor. PayScale ran a salary survey and found that fewer than 20% of dissatisfied employees who asked for a raise got what they wanted. On the other hand, close to 50% of employees who were satisfied with their jobs got the raise they requested. Ask for a raise when you are happy with your job and demonstrating that you are an asset to your company.

8. Practice. Practice. Practice.

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Practice for your meeting with friends and family. Let them play the role of your boss, and prompt them to be tough with you. If they ask pointed questions or force you to provide support for your answers, you’ll be better prepared when you are sitting in front of your boss. Prepare what to say in case your boss tells you that the company is not raising salaries at that time. Assert why you are the exception to this rule and deserve a salary.

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9. Keep A Record Of Your Contributions

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Your boss is busy and probably does not keep tabs on everything you do. Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, a career expert and co-founder of SixFigureStart—a  career coaching firm—suggests keeping records of your contributions to the company. You can include things you’ve done, responsibilities you’ve taken on, new skills you’ve learned, and how you helped other employees. Keep in mind, all of your actions must reflect how they helped the bottom line. That’s what most interests your boss. You can also highlight ways you saved the company money and brought in new business, but be specific. How much money did you save the company? Or how much revenue did the new business bring in? Raises and promotions are tied into value.

10. Get Endorsements

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Career and executive coach, Anita Attridge, recommends this powerful tactic: Ask coworkers or supervisors to endorse your work. Before your scheduled meeting, they can call or send your boss e-mails recognizing your actions. Remind them to keep their messages focused on how you helped them meet the organization’s goals and results, because that’s what your boss needs to hear. You can also send him positive customer testimonials you’ve received. The more he hears, the more valuable you will appear and the more deserving of a pay increase you will be.

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11. Switch Shoes

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Put yourself in your boss’ shoes and think about what she needs to hear to want to give you a raise. Embrace her interests and goals (if you haven’t already), then design your speech accordingly. Align your story with her objectives. After discussing your contributions and accomplishments, talk about the future. This is what Diana Faison, a partner with the Flynn Heath Holt Leadership firm, advises. Use this as an opportunity to assure your boss that you understand her pressures and goals and plan to continue doing great work. If you can make her life easier and help the company, you put yourself in a terrific position to get what you want.

12. Keep It Positive

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It’s usually a good idea to start the conversation on a positive note. Tell your boss what is about your job that you enjoy. You can lead into the request by noting that you’ve been given more work or greater responsibilities. Then ask for a raise to reflect your contributions. An English as a Second Language teacher approached her boss who was notorious for keeping a tight wallet. During the conversation she said, ‘I give it my all, and my students have improved as a result. I’d like a raise to match what I have been able to do.” How do you say No to that? She backed up her claim with details and wound up with a 17% pay increase.

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13. Things Not To Say

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Here’s where it gets sticky. After careful research, you found out that you’re being underpaid. You set an appointment with your boss. You outlined in detail the sweat and tears you gave the company—all with a smile. You requested a fair salary increase in way that could be modeled by others for decades. But your boss says, “No.” Here is how NOT to respond, according to Kathleen McGinn of Harvard Business School. Do not use idol threats or mislead your boss into thinking there is another job waiting for you if he won’t give you your raise. She might learn to not trust you. Or, if you’re already on shaky ground, she might tell you to take the other job. Here are better ways to respond…

14. Responding To “No”

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If your boss declines your request for a raise or offers you less than you asked, be prepared. Ask for feedback as to why he feels you should not get the desired raise at this time. Then listen carefully to what he says and appreciate his perspective. If his feedback is valid and based on less-than-perfect performance on your part, you know what you have to do. If you’re not sure, you can ask what you need to do, or what task you can take on, to merit the increase and find out when you can meet again. If you feel your boss is just making excuses, maybe you should start looking for employment elsewhere.

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15. Other Smart Responses To “No”

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If there is a situational reason why your boss cannot acquiesce, ask if he expects the situation to change and when you can discuss this with him again. If salary budgets are the issue, you have some smart replies. You can ask for a bonus instead. Since it’s a one-time payment, it won’t change the pay structure and it might make it easier for your boss to give, says Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace. If that doesn’t work, ask for a better title. It might not come with money, but a new title will let you make higher-level salary comparisons down the road.

16. No Whining

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In the meeting, stay focused on the value you add to the organization. Do not bring up your own personal expenses and why you need, or want, more money, says Dr. Katharine Brooks, author of You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career. Huge debt or not enough money to pay the rent is not your boss’ problem, unless somehow you can make it his problem. Perhaps you could work better if you were not anxious about how you are going to come up with rent money?! That’s a risky strategy. Better to stick to your accomplishments and how you add value to the organization when you are asking for a raise. Good luck!

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17. Put Body Language To Work

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In his book Silent Messages, Professor Albert Mehrabian concludes that 55% of communication actually takes place through body language. Use it to your advantage. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and professor and researcher at Harvard Business School, says that our body language not only affects others, it affects us. Her research suggests that before you enter the boss’ office, you should raise your arms in triumph for two minutes. (In private.) This will increase your presence and your confidence in the meeting. Negotiation expert, Jim Hopkinson, says that if your boss crosses his arms, a defensive stance, hand him something like your portfolio and walk him through your work. During the meeting, and especially if you feel it’s not going your way, communication expert, Steve Rohr, recommends raising your eyebrows slightly. He says this opens the other person up to ideas.

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