It’s the end of a productive year, and you’re sure you deserve a raise. After all, no one knows better than you do about what you’ve accomplished this year. Now the key is making sure your employer knows that, as well. Whether you want to ask for a raise straight-up or negotiate a bigger one during an annual review, there are steps you can take to put you in a better position to increase your paycheck.
Know your market value.
It’s entirely possible you're being underpaid relative to other people in similar positions. It’s also possible that your desire for a 43% increase is totally unrealistic. Thus, it’s time to hit the Internet. Do as much research as you can to determine what your role is worth at a range of companies. Sites like Glassdoor and PayScale can be excellent resources to give you a sense of what others are making in your field. Knowing what you can reasonably expect is crucial in preparing your raise request.
Look at your company’s overall health.
Is your company in cost-cutting mode? Did it have a banner year with high-profile clients? Understanding how your company is doing in general can help you figure out where to set your raise expectations. If it hasn’t been a great year for your employer, a huge salary bump just may not be feasible or likely, so shoot for a moderate one instead. This shouldn’t stop you from asking for a raise, but it can help you figure out what to ask for. If your company is struggling, acknowledge that in your request: “I know we’re cutting back, but I’d still like to discuss a salary increase.”
Don’t wait for them to come to you.
Use the year's end or a scheduled performance review process to let your boss know that you’d like to discuss salary and career growth. Schedule some time to talk about it with your manager, or at least to touch base before a more formal meeting.
Grab a friend to practice your spiel of reasons you deserve a raise. Have the person be as tough a counter-negotiator as possible, so you’ll be ready for any kind of resistance. Know your accomplishments and strengths cold, so you can rattle them off when asked. Try different ways of working them into conversation so they don’t come off like a recited list.
Have others sing your praises.
If you can walk into the room with kudos from other people, it shows your boss you’re an essential team member. If you’ve received any grateful emails or nice compliments from colleagues or clients over the past year, now’s the time to dig through your email archive to find them.
Don’t make it personal.
This is not the time to bust out sob stories about your finances. This raise is about being compensated specifically for your work and your role in the company. Similarly, don’t try to exploit whatever personal relationship you may have with your boss. If you two go out for happy hour drinks twice a week or snark on each other’s Facebook, that needs to stay separate from your professional performance evaluation.
No raise is guaranteed, but being extra-double prepared for the discussion, as well as having realistic goals in mind, will show that you’re ready for the next step up.
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