Have you found yourself adding up how much you contribute at work and wondering whether you’re underpaid? A Robert Half report suggests you’re not alone. Among professionals surveyed, 89 percent feel they deserve a salary increase. Only 54 percent, however, have actual plans to ask for a raise this year.
Clearly, confidence is lacking. For many, the idea of asking for more money fills them with dread: 32 percent said they’d rather clean the house, 13 percent said they’d rather look for a new job, and 6 percent would prefer getting audited by the IRS.
We know asking for a raise can be intimidating. But this could be an opportune time to ask. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows labor turnover is on the rise, and to stem the loss of talent, employers are taking steps to improve employee retention. In an Accountemps survey, 52 percent of CFOs polled said they are ready to increase salaries to keep top performers.
So, how to ask for a raise? Here are four ways to boost your confidence.
1. Benchmark your salary.
Take the time to learn the average salaries for your position and similar accounting roles. Consult Robert Half’s Accounting and Finance Salary Guide to determine the going rates for your job, then localize the numbers to your area using our Salary Calculator. If your salary is below par, you can use this information as leverage for requesting an increase.
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 how you’ve helped improve productivity. 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. Then be sure to ask for a reason. If he or she isn’t ready to consider a raise, ask what specific actions will be needed to merit one and set a review date. If tight budgets are the issue, request alternatives, also called perks — a title change, vacation days or flextime — that can increase job satisfaction.
Be respectful and be professional when you ask for a raise. And stay confident. You may not get what you ask for. But if you go in prepared, your request for a salary increase will very likely get careful consideration.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2015 and was updated recently to reflect current information.