How to Ask for a Raise: 4 Tips for Accounting Professionals

By Robert Half March 26, 2018 at 9:00pm

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 at work. You may deserve a pay increase or a job promotion.

A new Accountemps report 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.

Other surveys have shown that knowing how to ask for a raise and following through with it isn't easy. 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! View more information in the infographic and slideshow.

We know asking for a raise can be intimidating. But this could be an opportune time to ask. In today's job market, employers are finding staff retention to be more important than ever.

So, how to ask for a raise at work? Here are four ways to boost your confidence and do the deed.

1. Benchmark your salary

Take the time to learn the average salaries for your position and similar accounting roles. Consult the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide 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: You used Excel to create those excellent month-end reports and introduced accounts payable alerts. But what does that mean to your employer? When planning how to ask for a raise, document the bottom-line benefits you’ve brought to the company.

Then, instead of pointing to your actions (“I used Excel to update our month-end closing procedure”), make clear their precise benefits (“I cut 20 hours from our month-end closing by …”). Think in terms of quantifiable time or cost savings, for example. Say things like, “I saved the company $54,000 this year by creating automatic AP alerts to get checks out for early payment discounts.” Or “I reduced our payroll processing time by 12 hours per week by automating our ADP reports.”

3. Practice your approach

Role-play with a friend. Practice answering questions about the standard salary figures you’ve researched, the hours and dollars you’ve saved the company, and, perhaps, 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?

4. 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. 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, request alternatives, also called employee perks, 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.

Editor's note: This post was updated recently to reflect new information.

Show Me the Money — and Career Path infographic

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