5 Tips for How to Ask for a Raise (and Get It)

By Robert Half June 6, 2018 at 12:30pm

Have you found yourself adding up how much you contribute at work and wondering whether you’re underpaid? Perhaps now is a good time to find out how to ask for a raise. You may deserve a salary increase or a job promotion.

A Robert Half survey suggests you wouldn't be alone. More than half (52 percent) of the CFOs interviewed for the survey said the number of requests for promotions or raises has increased from two years ago.

We know asking for more money and following through with it can be intimidating. But asking for a raise is normal in the workplace, and this could be an opportune time to ask. In today's job market, employers are finding employee retention strategies to be more important than ever.

So, how to ask for a raise at work? Here are five ways to boost your confidence, make the request and find success.

1. Benchmark your salary

Take the time to learn the average salaries for your position and similar roles. Consult the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guides to determine the going rates for your job, then localize the numbers to your area using our Salary Calculator. If your compensation is below par, you can use this information as leverage for requesting an increase.

While you’re looking at the numbers, you might want to consider whether your company is in the position to offer you a bump in pay. Has it landed a deal recently or realized an upswing in revenue? Or has it just undergone budget cuts or layoffs? If that’s the case, rather than compensation, you might build a case for increased responsibility, which could help you later when the company is on firmer financial ground.

2. Quantify your achievements

You know you’ve been doing a good job, but when you’re figuring out how to ask for a raise, you should start by building your case and documenting the bottom-line benefits you’ve brought to the company.

Let’s say you work in an accounting department. You used Excel to create those excellent month-end reports and introduced accounts payable alerts. But what does that mean to your employer? Instead of pointing to your actions by saying, “I used Excel to update our month-end closing procedure,” make clear their precise benefits, such as: “I cut 20 hours from our month-end closing by implementing new features in Excel.” Or think in terms of quantifiable time and cost savings, as this example provides: “I reduced our payroll processing time by 12 hours per week by automating our reports.”

Perhaps, you work as an administrative assistant, and you took the initiative to create and manage a Facebook page for your company. The specific added value? “I helped us create an online presence without having to hire a social media specialist, and now we have 1,000 followers.”

If you’re a UX designer who wanted to ask for a raise, you’d want to share impressive metrics, too. This works:“I’ve improved our bottom line by designing a user interface that raised our website conversion rate by 200 percent.”

3. Prepare for a discussion

When was the last time you read over your job description? If it’s been a while, take another look and make sure you’re fulfilling all of your duties. If you’re going above and beyond, make note of your accomplishments so you can mention them to your employer. Walk into your meeting ready to talk about the projects you’ve played a role in and how you’ve worked outside of your job description. But be prepared to listen to any feedback you get, too, because many managers will see your active interest as a positive sign, which might translate to a future pay raise.

Something else to prepare: If your boss doesn’t have the authority to grant you a raise and has to get approval by someone else, you can help by writing a letter asking for a raise with the key points about why you think you’ve earned it.

4. Practice your approach

Role-play with a friend or family member. Practice answering questions about the standard salary figures you’ve researched, the hours and dollars you’ve saved the company, maybe even how you’ve helped improve productivity in the workplace. In a pinch, a mirror can offer honest feedback on your body language, posture and eye contact. Make sure your confidence shows. If you don’t believe you deserve a raise, why should your boss?

We’re not saying this is easy, of course. According to Robert Half's Confidence Matters study, many professionals find the idea of asking for more money fills them with dread: 36 percent said they’d rather clean the house, 14 percent said they’d rather look for a new job, and 5 percent would prefer getting a root canal!

5. Have a fallback position

Maybe you’ve taken all the right steps before you walked in to ask for a raise, but your boss still turns you down. Don't be afraid to ask for a reason or even what it would take to get a raise in the future. If your manager isn’t ready to consider a raise, ask what specific actions would be needed to merit one, and set a review date. If tight budgets are the issue, ask about a one-time bonus or employee benefits that can increase your job satisfaction — such as more vacation time, an increased annual bonus or spot bonus, flexible scheduling, professional development, a new title or an equity stake in the company.

Position yourself for a future raise by taking the initiative, discussing your long-term goals with your boss, expanding your skillset, and networking with others to raise your visibility in the company. The next time you have a performance review or a big win, you can ask again.

Just remember to be respectful and professional when you ask for a raise. And stay confident. You may not get what you ask for. But if you know how to ask for a raise and go in prepared, your request will very likely get careful consideration.

Robert Half has been helping job seekers find great career opportunities since 1948. Let us help you find the right job for you.

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