How Do I Ask For A Raise?

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How to approach your boss for a raise is quandary that has existed since practically the beginning of time.  You are hired to do a job, and over time you become better at it.  You either start to take on more or simply become more valuable due to your increased ability to get things done.  This is excellent if your boss proactively recognizes your increased value with increased compensation, but what do you do if this isn’t the case?  What if you start to feel like your increased value to the organization isn’t being recognized, either intentionally or unintentionally?  How do you attempt to bring up the matter?

If you find yourself in this situation, there are key items to remember as you try to navigate what can be a very touchy conversation for some professionals.

  • Consider the company status. It could be that you have simply been overlooked, or it could be that while you are doing an excellent job, other things aren’t so excellent at the organization.  If the company seems to be struggling financially or otherwise, be prepared for a possible delay.  It may make sense to postpone the conversation, or it may still be warranted.  That is a judgement call.  However, even if you do decide to go ahead an ask for an increase, be patient with how long it takes to get an answer.  Sometimes it’s still appropriate to ask, but the company’s status definitely plays a part in the end result.
  • Your boss’ mood. If possible, wait for a time when things are going well for your boss both professionally and personally.  Try to avoid times when another employee issue may be overshadowing the situation.  Also, try to avoid times when your boss is somehow stressed at a personal level as well.  With most people, the better a mood they are in, the more open they are to ideas – particularly if it involves going to bat for getting you a pay raise.
  • Make sure your performance is stellar. If you always hit homeruns, but had an off-day recently, it’s best to put off the raise discussion for a while until recent mishaps have been forgotten.  Shouldn’t it matter that you are always stellar?  Yes, it should; however, your case will be stronger if the most recent items on your boss’ mind are your successes rather than one untimely failure.  Waiting until a time when no one is able to do anything other than sing your praises puts you in a much better situation to get the increase you want.
  • Provide a rationale for why it’s warranted. It’s important to be able to state logically why you deserve a raise.  If your sole argument is that you feel you deserve one, or have been employed for a specific period of time, that may not be enough.  Make sure to have additional talking points such as specific achievements or other ways in which you have made a positive difference for the organization recently.  Employment longevity is good, but it may not be enough depending on other factors at the company.
  • Don’t get upset by a “no”. Sometimes you are doing an excellent job, and everything else seems good timing-wise, but for some reason a raise just can’t be approved.  Perhaps it is a company-wide freeze, or perhaps there is more going on than you realize.  While this may seem crazy, to be turned down for a raise due to uncontrollable circumstances and when your boss knows you certainly deserve one can be a good position to be in!  If your boss believes you deserve more and they are unable to give it to you at the time, they will remember it later and potentially reward you even more once they are able.  Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged by a temporary “no”.  Frequently “no” is really just “not now”, and patience will pay off.

I hope these tips will be helpful to you the next time you contemplate asking for a compensation increase at work.  As with most things, timing is vitally important.  With a little preplanning, awareness, and patience, you are much more likely to get what you are striving for.

As always, I wish you the best in your career.

Mark Goldman CPA