When You Desperately Want a Raise

Take these steps to take to improve your odds of getting one.

Posted Feb 18, 2018

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Do you desperately want a raise? Follow these easy steps to help improve your chances of making that a reality.

Start from Day One

Begin preparing for a raise the moment you get your job. Your starting salary is called that for a reason. Even if you are satisfied with the monetary figure, begin to build your stockpile of examples to support how and why you are successful at work. That way, you have negotiation material that is easily accessible, on a moment’s notice, to bring to an impromptu meeting or to your annual performance review.

Be Your Biggest Cheerleader and Strategist

1. Be consistently excellent. Always under-promise and over-deliver. Provide quality work with a smile.


2. Be a team player, always willing to lend a hand *even when* it doesn’t directly benefit you or your work product.

3.  Keep an electronic file of all accolades from customers, coworkers, and superiors. Create a separate “major projects” list and store it in a personal file on your computer. Over the weeks and months ahead, as you complete important tasks or successfully spearhead projects, jot this information down on the list.

4. Give yourself kudos (privately). Write down the three top ways that you’ve helped the boss or company this year. Write down your biggest strengths and how they help the company and your team. Review this list regularly, to make sure that you continue to live up to these self-acclaimed kudos.

5. Size up your competition. Consider who else might be eligible for a raise or possible promotion. In the spirit of self-reflection and self-growth, up your own game by mirroring a key strength executed well by someone else on the team. For instance, if the boss looks favorably at a colleague for always getting to meetings on time, strive to be consistently on time, too.

As You Prepare for your Talk with your Boss

1. Be forward thinking. Consider company goals and industry trends. Now’s the time to consider how your skill set and experience can provide a competitive advantage to your company moving forward. Are there certain skills that you bring to the table that are not being fully utilized? What might you do, on top of current responsibilities, to showcase your talents and bring the team or company to the next level? Add these ideas to an electronic file.

2. Investigate company protocol regarding raises. Does everyone get an annual cost of living raise? Are there additional increases based on tenure, performance, a mixture of both? Contact HR, review internal processes, or speak with a tenured and trusted colleague to get the scoop so that you are prepared before you go in for the negotiation.

3. Spell it out. Write down why you feel the boss should give you a raise. (If you don’t believe in yourself, why should your boss?) Review the electronic files you’ve gathered and use that information to support your position. Remember to focus on the value that you bring to the company and to the team. Specific figures are ideal, where applicable. Be factual. Don’t exaggerate or oversell. “Under my leadership, the sales group closed 100 more sales this quarter than they did last quarter. I project that we can double that figure if we….”

A Few Nights before your Meeting

1. Practice your “pitch” with a loved one outside of the organization. Record yourself and take note of your body language. You’ll want to look your boss squarely in the eye and appear friendly and sincere. Make sure that you come across as confident yet humble as you stress why the raise is important. “Boss, I love working here and know that I make a difference. Here’s a recap of….”

2. Confirm the meeting time. Make sure that you are still on your boss’ schedule, and share that you are excited for the meeting. Block off 30 minutes before the meeting to review your notes and to psych yourself up for the one-on-one.

3. Make two copies of your negotiation material. Have a separate copy for your boss and a separate copy for you. Bring this to the meeting. Be ready to share the accolades, the top ways you’ve helped the team, your biggest strengths, and current and future ways you might add value to the team. Be ready to show your boss why you are deserving of the raise.

4. Remind yourself to mind your manners. When speaking with your boss, remember to be humble and not demanding. You can be assertive while still being polite and respectful. Your demeanor is key to an effective win-win negotiation.

5. Brace yourself for a loss. Even though you may have all of the right things in place, you may not receive the raise. There may not be money in the budget, even for top performers. Or, you may not have performed as well as the boss had hoped, and therefore the boss may not feel that you are deserving of a raise. Practice your reply to that type of message too, so that you keep your cool and still stay top-of-mind for the next opportunity for a raise. “Boss, that’s obviously not what I was hoping to hear. What should I continue to do, and what might I change, so that I am more likely to receive a raise the next time? How soon might my performance be reevaluated?”

Don’t Get the Answer You Want?

If you consistently perform well and do not receive a raise over a few review cycles, then you may want to look elsewhere. This is especially true if your colleagues, who perform at your level, are receiving raises. If you feel taken advantage of, then it is likely time to move on.  Be especially wary of red flags, like when a boss dangles a raise in exchange for stellar work only to “forget” about it during your annual review. 

Before moving on, check out a career site like Glassdoor.com to confirm that your salary is out of the normal range. And, don’t forget to consider work-life balance perks that may tip the scale in favor of your current company. Remember that the grass is often greener on the other side, so only jump ship if you have another job lined up.

Copyright© 2018 Amy Cooper Hakim