How to ask for a salary raise

Asking for a salary increase  is never an easy task. The good news is that there are several tried and tested approaches that can help you ask for what you deserve.

Here are four of the best:

1. Choose the right time.

Molly Triffin, financial writer and contributor for Forbes says that timing is crucial when asking for a raise. She says that the first thing you should determine is when your company generally grants increases – is it at the end of the year, on the anniversary of your start date, or is there no set rule that you know of?

Triffin advises checking your employee handbook or asking what the process generally is, while Alison Green, author of the Ask a Manager blog says that raises are generally tied with your evaluations. She also says that there is nothing wrong with asking your manager about how it works, and that you would like at some stage to chat about salary increases and how and when that would happen.

A good time to discuss your raise though, advises Triffin, is a few months before your review, as often the budget is finalized before the annual review process, although this may not be applicable in all firms.

Once you have determined the right timing, another tip is to schedule your discussion with your manager in the morning.

According to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, we’re more moral earlier on in the day. Ethics researchers from Harvard and Utah’s David Eccles School of Business found that as the day progresses, our capacity to be moral diminishes.

2. Do your homework.

Triffin and Green both agree that there is no point in asking for a raise if your company has indicated that it is going through retrenchments or financial difficulties, or if you are earning more than the current market-related salary for your position and, of course, if your performance is less than ideal.

Some companies that offer yearly increases may be less amenable to discuss a raise at any other time, however if the case is compelling enough – for instance, if you can prove that you are paid below the market average and that your work meets their performance criteria – they may be more open to considering it.

3. Support your claim.

Triffin says that it is important to note the personality of your manager when scheduling your meeting. Some managers prefer that you be direct, while others may respond better to a more nuanced approach.

Once you have scheduled your meeting, it is important to have done the required research and have enough examples of your stellar performance over the past year to back your claim.

Green explains that a raise indicates that you have become more valuable than you were when you were first employed, so it is important that you highlight these instances in your discussion, such as listing the new responsibilities you have taken on, your accomplishments, as well as praises you’ve received (complimentary emails are important, so make sure you keep a store of these as you go along).

4. Manage your expectations.

When asking for an increase it’s important that you have realistic expectations. Green says that if most employees received a 3% increase in the past year, then asking for a 10% increase would be unlikely to be met, whereas a 5% increase may be more realistic.

She suggests doing the research in-house as well as out. “You need to consider what the market is at a company of your size – for your skill level and in your geographic area.”

Green advises having a target number in place when discussing your increase, one that shows that you are in touch with current market trends. Should your manager offer a lower figure, you can then see if you can come to a compromise.

Human resources professional Suzanne Lucas says that in general a 3-5% raise is the norm for employees who have performed well. But it is important to note where you are on their scale. She says that many companies have different grades for each position, with a midpoint salary assigned. If you are below this, you can ask for more than if you are above it.

What happens if you are rejected?

Green’s advice is to learn from the experience. If the answer is no, Green says that you are well within your rights to ask how you could earn a raise in future.

She concludes that your manager should then offer you advice on how you can improve your chances the next time around, and that you should not see the rejection as the end of the road, but an opportunity to try again, and be better prepared to win the next time around.

HowKE Team

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