4 Persuasive Tactics to Help You Ask for a Pay Raise

by Hank Coleman

How to Ask for a Pay RaiseAlthough unemployment rates are currently at their lowest levels since before 9/11, a major problem for many people in the workforce is stagnant wage growth. Some local and state governments have increased their minimum wages in an attempt to keep up with the ever-increasing cost of living, but even so, workers appear to be getting the short end of the stick even in this booming period of economic growth.

How to Ask for a Pay Raise

If it’s been a while since you got a pay raise or you’ve been with a new company for 6-18 months and haven’t discussed a potential increase with your employer yet, don’t give up. Here are a few strategies for getting out of a wage rut and respectfully – but firmly – asking for a bump in your salary:

Get the Timing Right

Maybe your boss loves the work you’ve done over the last several months. Your work ethic fits well with your colleagues, and you go above and beyond the minimum requirements for your position. These qualities in an employee typically lead to a pay raise at some point. But, if your company traditionally offers pay raises only after annual reviews at a certain point in the year.

Then, your timing might be completely off if you try asking for a raise five months before your next review. Review your company’s policies and/or ask a trusted co-worker before approaching your boss. If the company currently isn’t doing so well financially, you might want to hold off asking for more money until the corporate balance sheets get out of the red.

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Timing is everything. Even asking a stressed out boss on an unusually hectic work day can be detrimental to your chances. So, plan out what you’ll say and when you’ll say it.

Know How Much You’re Worth Beforehand

Many workers don’t seem to realize how much they’re truly worth. As long as their coworkers with similar workloads, education, and experience get paid around the same amount, it’s generally assumed that the pay is fair and they’re fortunate to have a stable job at all after a rocky few years since 2008.

However, with the unemployment rate as low as it is, there are several more opportunities for career advancement and job changes for individual employees compared to the recession era. So, why settle for what your current company is offering if there could be higher paying jobs in your field at another company?

PayScale offers free salary reports designed to help you determine how much people in your industry and location are making hourly and annually. Using data-driven research to prove to your boss that you deserve a higher salary (in addition to personal factors, such as the value you contribute to the company’s success) can significantly build your case for a pay increase if your boss is open to negotiations later on.

Be Direct

Who actually likes beating around the bush when it comes to important conversations? Money is already an uncomfortable topic to discuss, so don’t make it more anxiety-inducing for yourself or frustrating for your boss by starting with small talk and eventually leading into the big question of, “Can I get a pay raise?”

On the other hand, you don’t want to be too blunt. Demanding a pay raise within the first two sentences of the discussion can sour the conversation very quickly, as well as any language that might come across as overly self-interested (e.g., “You haven’t given me a raise in __ years” or “I’m not making the money I deserve”). Instead, give your boss a heads up beforehand – “Could we meet sometime next week to discuss my salary?” – and demonstrate how giving you more money would be a win-win for everyone involved, rather than taking a self-centered “I deserve this” approach.

Prove Your Value to the Company

You won’t get too far with salary information from websites like PayScale if you can’t persuade your boss that you’re worth that much money to begin with. Unless you’re clearly outperforming most or all of your colleagues and you’ve been noticeably more productive than anyone else, how is your boss supposed to know why you’re worth a few (or several) thousand dollars more per year?

Unless your boss is a masterful micromanager, they might not see every single thing you have done for the company. So, it’s important to show up to your pre-planned salary meeting with a clear outline of what tangible (and possibly intangible) benefits you’ve brought to the company, how your work is instrumental in the future success of the company, and how you’re a stellar employee who motivates others, rather than dragging them down. 

In this post-recession workforce, pay increases no longer seem to fall from the sky – instead, employees asking for pay raises has become more of the norm, which means you’ll need some persuasive techniques for approaching your boss with your request. By finding the opportune time to ask, knowing how much you’re worth and how much your work benefits the company before diving into this serious money conversation, you’ll increase the likelihood of your boss approving your request for a pay increase.

What about you? Do you know how to ask for a pay raise? What have been your best tactics to get a raise?

How to Ask for a Raise

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.

Hank Coleman has written 582 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.

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