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Ask for and get a raise

You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Photo Credit:

Do you feel like you’re worth more than you’re being paid? Are fellow employees getting paid more than you? Are other people in your field getting better pay at different companies?

These are all reasons to ask for a raise.

If you feel like you’ve earned it, you probably have. So, why not ask for it? According to Ramit Sethi, author and founder of I Will Teach You To Be, “Just one $5,000 raise, properly invested, can be worth $1 million over your career.”

Sounds great, right? But you can’t just waltz into your boss’ office and demand an extra $5K a year. You have to develop a thoughtful, thorough plan. Here’s how:

  1. Ask when the time is right. Ideally, you’ll want to ask for a raise after you’ve done something outstanding (like earning a top sales spot, finding a new client, or successfully leading a team project). Don’t expect to get a raise for just showing up and doing the minimum-required work. Additionally, when you’re considering timing, don’t ask for a raise around the holidays, when bonuses are being doled out. And don’t ask for a raise in the middle of budget or staff cuts. Know the rhythm of your company and ask for a raise when things seem stable or exceptionally good. It’s helpful to make a specific plan such as: “Within the next three months, I will ask for a raise.” Or, “After I complete XYZ Project, I will ask for a raise.” That way, you’ll have a general time frame mapped out.
  2. Put together a compelling list of reasons why you deserve a raise. Take the time to evaluate the work you’ve done over the last year or two. What projects stand out? What are some specific instances where you’ve truly shined? When have you added to the profitability of your organization? Collect as many specific facts as you can (Of course, it helps if your boss already knows about your accomplishments, but that’s a subject for a different blog post). Practice talking about your accomplishments in the mirror or with a close friend or spouse. Why? You want to sound as natural as possible when you have this conversation and not like you’re rattling off a list.
  3. Arm Yourself with Confidence. Don’t be shy about asking for a raise. Believe that you’ve earned it and demonstrate, with confidence, the reasons why you should get it. On the flip side, don’t act cocky and expect everything to go your way. Just be authentic, sincere, and assertive in your request.
  4. Have a specific dollar amount in mind. Do your research. Know what other people in the company are making and know what other people in your industry are making. Don’t be outlandish in your request, but don’t sell yourself short either.
  5. Talk about the future. It’s a good idea to demonstrate that you are ready to continue to do great work for the company. As Carolyn O’Hara writes in an article for the Harvard Business Review, “Lay out your contributions, then quickly pivot to what you hope to tackle next. Assure your boss that you understand his or her pressures and goals, and pitch your raise as a way to help achieve those goals.”

And if your boss turns you down? That’s a possible outcome and you have to be prepared to accept it. But don’t get discouraged. The fact that you asked for a raise shows initiative, career-mindedness, and tenacity. It also demonstrates to your boss that you know what you’re worth and he or she will have to give you a raise at some point down the road or risk losing you. So, be fearless! You don’t get what you don’t ask for.


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