Having a frank discussion about money matters with your boss can be an uncomfortable thought.
Before you broach the topic of a salary increase, it might be good to consider the following points that might be brought up, key of which: is your current salary in line with the industry benchmark?
Have you excelled in your role and contributed significantly to the company? If so, do you think you deserve a promotion and a salary raise to match it?
Ideally, it’s always better if your boss recognises your accomplishments and gives you an annual review process, with a salary increase according to the market rate if you’ve performed well, without you needing to ask for it.
Most times however, you have to ask for an increase in salary or a promotion if you want one; but what’s the best way to go about doing so?
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1. Pick the right time
There’s always a right time and place for everything so you need to use some common sense when you approach your boss about the possibility of a raise.
A general rule of thumb is not to bring up the salary request during a tough time, such as when your boss is stressed or overworked. If your company is not doing well, it’s also definitely not a good time to ask. Some warning signs that can indicate the company’s financial health are cutbacks in spending and/or layoffs.
Conversely, the perfect time to ask for a salary raise is after a big accomplishment. Capitalise on the momentum of your success and you may find yourself in an ideal position to ask for an increase in salary.
Otherwise, a natural time for this conversation to take place is during your annual performance review or yearly review, when honest feedback is given and the topic of salary is not only timely but often expected. Be sure to know the average salary and salary benchmarks for your role from salary reports so you’re in a better position to negotiate a competitive salary for yourself.
2. Highlight outstanding accomplishments
The thing about pay raise is that it’s awarded not because you’re doing your job, but because you’re doing it exceptionally well.
That said, you need to identify where your level of contribution is beyond the defined responsibilities for your role in the job market.
Make a list of your accomplishments, and any additional responsibilities you’ve taken on that contributes to key company goals. An increase in responsibility, be it managing more employees or taking on special projects, are often grounds for a salary raise.
Be sure to also specify examples of projects you’ve completed and how they’ve positively impacted the company.
Quantify your value with statistical data, awards/accolades and even positive feedback so you can demonstrate more tangibly how you’ve contributed to the company. These are not only good indicators of your contributions, but also of your future potential.
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3. Know your worth in the industry
Once you’ve justified your worth as a valuable employee, confidently express to your boss that you’d like an increase in salary. Don’t be generic about it and specify the increase or target salary you would like, either in dollars or in terms of percentage.
But before any salary negotiation, you need to first conduct research to determine your market value.
To learn the salary range for your job, you can check out salary websites like PayScale and Glassdoor, or refer to salary guide reports like this.
Take note to use them as a rough guideline only. Ultimately, your education level, years of previous experience and skill sets will influence how your salary scales in comparison to the figure you have in mind.
You can also network with other employees that have similar job titles, qualifications and responsibilities to assess your salary competitiveness. You’ll then have a better idea of how much you should be asking for and set realistic expectations.
It’s also helpful to know the average salary, so suggest a number that is fair and reasonable.
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4. Focus on why you deserve the pay raise
The best approach to asking for a raise is to focus on why you deserve one versus why you need one. Too often, people argue that a salary raise is important to cater to the cost of living and increasing expenses in our lives.
However, a subjective employer only gives salary raises to people based on their merits and accomplishments. Don’t bring up personal reasons, and stick to discussing your performance and impact instead.
What if the boss says “No”?
If you’ve performed well in your role, there’s no reason why your boss shouldn’t grant you an increase in salary.
However, don’t be discouraged if your request for a raise gets rejected. It doesn’t have to be the end of the negotiation.
You can ask your boss to identify your areas for improvement so you can work on taking your performance to the next level. Be sure to establish specific goals and timelines so you have an idea of when to revisit the negotiation.
Alternatively, you can also negotiate for better employee benefits like extended annual leave, additional vacation time, telecommuting, flexible spending account and skills training.
At the end of the day, all is not lost if your request for a salary raise gets rejected and you receive additional employee benefits since that is also in response to your exceptional performance in your role.