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Many people are nervous about requesting a salary increase. This often delays them and sometimes even prevents them from asking. But keep in mind that it’s a perfectly normal part of working any job for multiple years. Even if they deny the request, no reasonable manager or boss holds it against a valued employee who’s been around for a while if they periodically seek more money.

When you decide it’s time, use the following tips for asking for a raise to help the encounter go smoothly and to boost the likelihood of getting what you want. By taking a tried-and-true professional approach and making a strong case for yourself, you maximize your chances.


How to Improve Your Chances of a Salary Increase

  • Wait a year after receiving a raise before asking for another one. It’s generally unrealistic to expect multiple increases in salary within a 12-month period. When you do ask, mention how long it’s been since your last pay increase.
  • Pay attention to timing when requesting an increase in compensation. For example, don’t approach your manager when she’s obviously stressed or hurried, or shortly after your company has just lost a large client. If you can, ask after you’ve pulled off a big win, completed a significant project with excellent results, brought in a new client, received some praise, or otherwise had positive attention of some sort.
  • Also, if possible, discern your employer’s raise cycle. For example, do they give salary hikes at a certain time of year? On the anniversary of an employee’s start date? During annual performance reviews? Time your request accordingly, or otherwise, in relation to your company’s budgeting cycle.
  • Investigate your employer’s salary structure and raise practices. Many have standard raise amounts (say, 5 or 10 percent). It’s always helpful if your request is in line with your company’s regular practices.
  • Research market rates for your role in your geographical area (check out tools like Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth calculator). Be realistic in your request—particularly if you find you’re earnings are high for your job in your location. If you’re relatively underpaid, this is something to bring up. Take what you find online with a grain of salt, though, as not all reporting in this respect is accurate, and job titles can mean different things to different employers and on different websites.
  • If you’re set on a specific salary number, it’s fine to quote it when you make your request, but don’t feel obligated to offer a number upfront. However, be prepared for your manager to ask what you’re looking for.
  • Briefly address the extra responsibilities you’ve taken on since your compensation was last set. If applicable, point to specific instances when you’ve been asked you to expand your role.
  • Talk about your major accomplishments and why you’re an asset to the company. Use specific examples and data as much as possible.
  • Talk positively and enthusiastically about your future with the company, such as how you’re looking forward to continuing to grow with it and contribute to its success.
  • Don’t explain your personal financial reasons for needing a raise (e.g., that your rent just went up or your kid’s going off to college soon); stick to business.
  • Be receptive to feedback and constructive criticism if it comes; don’t get defensive. You want to show that you’re eager to improve your performance, whether it’s in conjunction with a raise now, or to achieve one in the future if it’s not forthcoming at present.
  • Don’t say you’re going to quit if you don’t get more money, or make any other threats.
  • Use these interview body language tips to convey confidence, competence, and professionalism during the conversation. In addition, dress a little more formally the day you’re asking for a raise—especially if your workplace has a casual dress code.
  • Remember that your manager may have to get approval from above, or she may need to crunch some numbers and give your request some thought. Understand that you don’t always get an answer on the spot, and allow a reasonable amount of time before following up.
  • Be gracious and thank your manager for her time at the end of the meeting, regardless of whether you got a yes, a compromise, an “I’ll get back to you,” or a no.
  • If your request for a raise is denied, ask what your manager believes would be required for a raise to become a reality in the future. Keep it professional; don’t get resentful or defensive.

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