Before you approach the nerve-wracking process of asking for a raise, take these steps—and you’ll be sure you get what you want.
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Asking for a raise is tricky for most people. You really want that extra income, and of course you think you deserve it. But there’s a lot to be scared of, too. You’re worried that your boss will say no, that she’ll get angry that you even asked, that you could get… a de-raise?
By the time you’re finished arguing with yourself, you’re anxious and stressed and you probably won’t end up asking, anyway.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure you walk out of the office with a bigger paycheck:
1. Make yourself indispensable
for as many duties as you can. The more that’s left up to you to do, the more valuable you are to the company. If you keep this up, then you’ll be more efficient at these tasks and gain an advantage over your colleagues.
If you’re not sure your boss notices how indispensable you are, consider taking an unexpected sick day, or maybe a few in a row. Your coworkers will be scrambling to keep up with what you usually do, and hopefully for you, the office will be thrown into chaos. Then, when you stroll back into work and have everything back in order within five minutes, your boss will realize how crucial you are to the company. This will stick in her mind when you go in and ask for a raise.
2. Become a star performer
If your boss sets you goals, make sure you do your best to exceed them. If you have the luxury of setting your own goals or targets, make sure you manage expectations properly. Try to set them at a level that’s impressive, but that you can achieve. It’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver than promise the world to your boss and then let her down.
Even if you’re doing great work and accomplishing a lot, if you don’t , it will come back to bite you. Keep a record of all your goals and achievements, while also letting your boss know every time you reach or exceed a goal.
3. Volunteer for tasks outside your role
Whenever opportunities arise for corporate seminars or information nights, be sure to join in. Not only will it be noticed that you’re keen to participate, but you may learn extra skills and build relationships with your colleagues.
You could also do some independent learning, such as reading books, attending private seminars or enrolling in courses related to your industry. These are all value-adding activities, which make you worth more to your company. And the more you’re worth to them, the more they will be willing to pay you.
4. Investigate your worth and your company’s worth
Research your industry to find out what the average salary is for your type of position. This way, you can see whether you’re getting paid correctly or not. You should also take a look your employer’s financial position through corporate newsletters, annual reports or by asking around.
If the company you work for is public, then most of the information you need can be easily found. This will let you know if now is the right time to ask for a raise. If the company is doing well, go for it. But if the company is in financial trouble or hasn’t been performing too well lately, now might not be the best time to ask for a raise.
5. Prepare to be tough if necessary
Threaten to leave your job unless you get a raise. This is a risky strategy, and takes a lot of confidence to carry out. It’s a good idea to secure a separate job offer before trying this one out, as it could backfire. You can also use this job offer as a reason you should get the raise—you’re letting your boss know that someone else is prepared to offer you a job with a higher salary. Before you test out this strategy, make sure you’re willing to switch workplaces, as this could be the outcome.
In general, you have to make sure you are worth the raise. Just like the average shopper, a company will not want to overpay for a product. The product in this case is you, the employee. If the company knows you’re worth more than the average employee, they will often be happy to pay you more than the average employee.
From an employer’s perspective, with employees are a common part of business. Asking for a pay raise should be a friendly, respectful conversation where both parties are trying to find a positive outcome where everyone wins. Just remember not to talk too much and not to be afraid of some awkward silences. State your case and be prepared to listen carefully and respond to the feedback you receive. The more you talk, the more likely you are to talk yourself out of the raise you want!
Luke Howes is the CEO of two startups, and . He’s had his fair share of “asking for a pay raise” meetings on both sides of the table.