How to Get a Raise in 4 Simple Steps

May 14th 2015

Taylor Ellis

Simply put, asking for a raise can be a difficult task. Salary can be an uncomfortable topic to broach and there’s always the possibility that your request could be denied. This shouldn’t stop people from moving up financially in the work place. Here are some things to consider looking into before asking for a bump in pay.

Peggy Olson

1. Timing is key

It sounds cliché, but timing is extremely critical when it comes to asking for a raise. Of course, it isn’t wise to ask for a raise if you're performance has recently been sub-par -- whether you’ve been coming in late or a presentation went poorly. Wait to hit your stride before you bring up the idea of more compensation.

Another aspect of "timing" is at what point in your career you begin to ask for a raise. Some suggest asking for a raise immediately when you start out in the working world. Economist Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University explained to NPR that small pay boosts will really add up overtime.

"I tell my graduate students that by not negotiating their job at the beginning of their career, they're leaving anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million on the table in lost earnings over their lifetime," Babcock told NPR.

Additionally, the best time to ask for a pay raise may be in the negotiating process of starting a new job. US News & World Report explains that the biggest factor in determining whether or not you get a higher salary is based solely on whether you ask for one at the beginning. Many employers actually expect you to negotiate the first offer they give you so don’t be shy about asking for more. This is usually the best time to maximize your value.

2. Evidence is a necessity

When you go into the meeting, make sure that you have proof of what makes you worthy of receiving a raise. Having a solid explanation of why you believe you’ve done a great job will impress your superior and will hopefully make them feel like they need to give you what you’re asking for.

It’s a good idea to keep a running list or file of all of your responsibilities and the praise or awards you’ve received throughout the year — then you won’t have to scramble before your meeting. Business Insider spoke to Jacqueline Whitmore, an international etiquette expert and author about the importance of being organized.

“Have all of your facts and figures in order and be prepared to explain why you deserve a raise,” Whitmore explained.

Realistically, your supervisor is not going to remember everything you’ve done while you’ve been with the company so this is the perfect time to remind them of your accomplishments. Also, be sure to highlight all of things you do that go beyond your usual duties.

3. Know your worth and what the company is able to give

You’ll be more likely to get a raise if you ask for a reasonable amount. Research what others in your field are getting paid in order to have a better idea of what to ask for to avoid a offensive salary request. Tools like Glassdoor can help you research what other employees or workers in your field make.

It’s also important to ask for a raise when you know the company is doing well. If there have been budget cuts or layoffs, it probably isn’t the best time to ask.

Annual reviews are also important. Contrary to popular belief, it may be better to ask for the raise months before your review. When company review time comes around, everyone is going to be asking for a raise, and your request will be competing with all of the others. Better to be the only one asking.

Peggy Olson 2

4. Keep your cool

If for some reason you aren’t given the raise, stay calm and collected. This isn’t the time to burn a bridge and ruin your chance for a future raise.

And if you still feel as though you deserve more money for the work you’ve done, it may be time to consider making the switch to a new job.