What’s the Best Way to Ask for a Raise? Resources

Ever get the feeling you deserve more money at your job? Join the club. Not sure how to ask for it? You’re not alone there, either.

The act of negotiating salary increases is a cause of stress for many people, and as Laura McMullen writes for U.S. News & World Reports, it takes some serious strategizing to approach your boss for more bucks. In a post titled “12 Steps to Asking for a Raise — and Getting It,” she outlines some helpful tips for securing more money.

The first three have to do with preparing for the ask. Before you even schedule the interview, “do your homework” and find out what other people with the same job title and level of experience are making. This info could come in handy if the company questions the validity of your request. You should also ask yourself “What if?” — as in, would you leave the firm if you don’t get the raise you’re looking for. If so, start researching openings and putting out feelers with friends and associates.

The final preliminary step is to “consider alternative benefits.” If the boss can’t throw you more cash, maybe he or she can grant some added vacation time or flexibility with your hours.

Once you’ve done all that, you should “schedule your meeting wisely” and avoid broaching the subject at, say, the start of a new project. You should then “practice negotiating” with a friend or family member and conduct a trial run.

“This kind of preparation will simply help you practice saying the words that form what many employees consider to be an uncomfortable, if not intimidating, conversation,” says Robert Bordone, founding director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program at Harvard Law.

The next five tips have to do with the meeting itself. “Look and act like someone who deserves a raise,” McMullen advises. This means dressing professionally, being prompt, and making good eye contact. You should also “find balance between your tone and language.” You don’t want to be too weak or too assertive, and don’t beat around the bush. Begin with something like, “I would be grateful if we could talk about a salary increase.”

Once the conversation gets started, “give the employer a positive role — not a problem.” The key here is to talk about why a raise would keep you feeling satisfied and engaged and boost productivity and morale. What manager wouldn’t want to promote these types of things?

You should also “be specific” with what you’re looking for — i. e. a dollar amount and proof you’ve done your homework — and “be a good listener” when the boss responds. You can demonstrate that by paraphrasing key points when you offer your rebuttal, showing you’re seeking a genuine conversation.

McMullen’s last two have to do with the aftermath of being turned down — which, of course, is a possibility. “Try to understand,” she says, and “reflect on the negotiation later.” The last one is crucial because it will influence your next course of action. Was it simply a case of bad timing, or does the refusal speak to problems within the company or a lack of value placed in your work?


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