Getting a raise is a process. Rarely will you go to your boss, ask for a raise and get it. It’s not that the stars have to align for your raise to happen; it’s that you have to align the stars.
Asking your employer for a pay raise isn't easy, even though all of us want a higher salary. It may not seem like a good idea, but it's always a good idea to negotiate a raise if you think you deserve more money for the job that you're doing. Besides, if you don't ask or put in a raise request, you'll never get the pay increase you want.
You are much more likely to get a salary increase when you plan for it and lay the foundation throughout the year. Contrary to popular belief, the best way to get a raise is not by waiting for your once-a-year performance review. You should be laying a strong foundation with every conversation throughout the year.
That means you’re having smaller, more frequent conversations about your work, your performance and your accomplishments with your manager. Who will she think of when it’s time to recommend one of her team members for a project or role? You.
1. Every year, ask.
Even if it’s been a humdrum year, sales are down or the business seems to be suffering. There are a few traps that many women fall into when it comes to asking. One is feeling too much empathy for the company. Another is just plain old fear. I speak with women every day who say things like, “When I was hired, they promised me a raise after six months. But my boss never mentioned it and I was too nervous to ask. It’s been two years and I still haven’t gotten any raise at all.”
Even if you work in a company that doesn't give raises, ask what you can do to get one. “How can I get to the next salary tier?” or, “What specifically can I do to get to the next pay grade?” And if your company doesn't give raises at all? You may want to start looking for a company that does.
2. When your boss is planning her budget, ask.
Another common misunderstanding is about budgets and timing. Every manager is required to create a budget for the next year, so when you ask for a raise, the timing matters. Talk to your boss about your career, your accomplishments and the research you’ve done that validates your numbers. Ask when she’ll be putting together her budget and ask how you can get a raise included in that budget. Find out what you need to do to be an increased line item in her final budget!
3. When you’ve just finished a successful project and you’re basking in your glory, ask.
Sharing your accomplishments is key to getting a raise. Many women say, “I shouldn’t have to brag about my successes, my boss should know!” but this is just rubbish. Your boss probably has a long list of things she’s responsible for and managing you is just one thing on that list. She may be a fantastic manager who does know how amazing you are, but it’s more likely that she’s trying to hold it all together and keep the ship from sinking every day. So remind her. You’re actually doing her a favor, showing up with the documentation done. When you come in with successes to share, you make her look good, too, because she can see how smart she was for hiring you.
4. When your boss has just finished a successful project and is basking in his glory, ask.
In other words, be sure your boss is in a good mood when you have the conversation. Your boss is a human, just like you, with ups and downs in life at work and home. If your boss is going through a tough time, take that into account when you meet. This doesn't mean you have to wait for his divorce to be final before you talk to him about your salary. It's about feeling out his mood when you are meeting. You may set up a time to talk about your career, go into the meeting and find that he’s just in a bad mood. Put yourself in his shoes for a minute and choose your words carefully. You may decide to ask to move the meeting to another day with an excuse of your own, “I had a client request come in that I need to respond to. Can we move our meeting to tomorrow?” or even, “I’m not feeling well today” can work in a pinch.
5. When you have regular project check-ins, ask.
Make all parts of your work a regular part of your conversations with your boss so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming and intimidating when you do it once a year. Talk about it in a conversational way, bringing up your career and what you’d like to be working on, the kinds of projects that she may think to get you involved with or can recommend you to work on. It’s very much like talking about sex with your kids. Bring it up in small ways throughout their lives so it doesn’t become a scary birds-and-bees conversation. Normalize it.
The bottom line.
According to a survey by Glassdoor, 59 percent of people surveyed do not negotiate their salary because they either didn’t feel comfortable or didn’t know they were allowed to. But the interesting thing about this number is that there’s a 16 percent point difference between men and women! 68 percent of women don’t negotiate vs. 52 percent of men. Part of the gender pay gap has to do with that spread. Close your own pay gap by asking!
Now you know when to ask for a raise, so go talk to your employer and get that salary increase. Remember that you don't have to wait for your employer to schedule a performance review to talk a pay raise. If you believe you deserve more money from your current salary for the job you're doing, put in a raise request.
Melissa Hereford is a negotiation expert who will teach you to respond clearly, calmly, and effectively so you can get more of what you want, all while building stronger relationships. Get your free negotiation script at http://MelissaHereford.com