6 Ways to Pump Yourself Up Before Asking for a Raise

By Robert Half on June 24, 2015 at 3:00pm

Displaying self-assurance at work is critical, particularly when asking for a raise. Here are ways to raise your confidence prior to requesting a higher salary.

Nervous about negotiating with your boss? Does the thought of asking for a raise sound more painful than a root canal? You’re not alone, according to Robert Half’s new Confidence Matters survey, which looks at workers’ confidence levels and attitudes about a range of career and salary issues.

Yes, salary discussions can be unnerving. But you’re doing yourself a disservice if you allow your fear of an awkward conversation or being turned down keep you from requesting the pay bump you feel you deserve.

Simply put, if you have strong professional skills, you can’t afford to let a shortage of self-assurance impede your earning potential. Following are six ways to increase your confidence before approaching your employer for more moolah:

1. Know the going rate. Research begets confidence. Do your homework by reviewing the average salary range for your position in your area. Consult reputable resources such as the Salary Guides from Robert Half. Twenty-seven percent of workers admitted they have never checked their salary against the market rate, according to the Confidence Matters survey. You’ll be more confident if you arm yourself with current data that supports your request.

You might even find you merit a higher percentage raise than you initially thought. Knowing the numbers also helps ensure that you don’t hurt your chances — and credibility — by demanding too much.

2. Build a business case. Develop a list of speaking points that highlight specific ways you’ve added value to your company. Think about extra responsibilities and projects you’ve taken on as well as the ways you’ve positively changed your role and helped the organization save time, money and resources. Beyond building a persuasive case, reflecting on all the good work you’ve done will also give you a jolt of confidence. 

3. Rehearse and refine. Don’t wing it when asking for a raise. Rehearse until you have your pitch down pat. Then, do a practice run with a trusted friend or family member. You’ll likely receive valuable feedback that will enable you to further fine-tune your approach. Plus, sharing your plan — and hearing yourself deliver it aloud to someone else — can make your request feel more concrete and help you fully commit to it.

4. Project confidence with your body language. No matter how polished your pitch, be mindful that it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. While asking for a raise can be nerve-wracking, smiling and maintaining good posture during the discussion will help you both look and feel more confident. Eye contact is also crucial to connoting confidence. In a one-on-one conversation, holding eye contact for 7 to 10 seconds at a time is ideal.

5. Think positive. You might remember Saturday Night Live’s Stuart Smalley and the famous daily affirmation he delivered to his mirror: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” While you don’t need to take things that far, there truly are benefits of an optimistic attitude and positive self-talk. Before you walk into your manager’s office, tell yourself that you are going to get that raise. If you enter the discussion feeling like your request is a Hail Mary pass, your manager is more likely to adopt the same view.

6. Don’t overthink the process. The Confidence Matters research indicates some workers would rather tackle decidedly un-fun tasks than ask for a raise. (In fact, a notable percentage of people would prefer to clean their house, while others would pick getting a root canal or being audited by the IRS!) Yes, you want to be prepared, but don’t build the conversation up to be more than it is.

Remember that workers have been asking their employers for more money for a very long time. Your boss is likely quite accustomed to receiving raise requests. In fact, according to a recent Robert Half survey, 43 percent of executives interviewed said the number of requests for raises or promotions has increased from two years ago.

The bottom line: Craft a compelling case, be confident, and go for it. As hockey great Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Check out the infographic below for more intriguing findings from Robert Half’s Confidence Matters research:

Asking for a Raise


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