4 in 5 People Who Ask For Raises Get Turned Down – 5 Ways to Make You're The 20% Who Gets One

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Steve Adcock for Wealth of Geeks
Steve Adcock for Wealth of Geeks
April 21, 2024 at 8:15AM UTC
Want to make more money in 2022? One of the best ways to boost your salary is to ask for a raise. But before you do, make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure.
For years, I managed an information technology department and got to listen to employees ask for more money quite often. But, unfortunately, most of them did it wrong. Only about 20% of the employees who asked for raises got them throughout my career.
What did the 20% do to ensure I said yes? Here are five tips.

1. Are you actually underpaid? Know your value.

Before asking your boss for more money, spend some time researching salaries for similar positions in your area. Also, keep in mind any additional responsibilities that you’ve taken on at work that will help boost your argument. Know what you’re worth.
Have this salary-related data available as you speak with your boss. Staff members that came prepared with numbers had a much better chance at getting their raise. It’s tough to argue with numbers. So bring them and be prepared to discuss them.

2. Pick the right time to talk to your boss.

Timing is everything. You will significantly improve your chances of getting the “yes” if you carefully pick the right opportunity to talk about a salary increase with your boss.
First, resist talking with your boss about a raise until you’ve been there for about a year. Asking too soon after hiring for more money could backfire. Instead, establish a history of excellent performance at your job first, then ask for more money if you’re underpaid.
If you just aced your performance review, that’s a great time to ask for more money. Or, maybe you just achieved something significant at the office (fixed a big problem, sold a huge contract, released a new software product, found an accounting problem, etc.). Strike while the iron is hot. Whenever possible, ask for more money after a big accomplishment.
Or, did you get a new job offer from another company? Maybe you just got promoted (but without a corresponding raise)? These are both great opportunities to ask for more money.
Also, be mindful of stressful days at the office. Avoid asking your boss for more money on days when there’s higher stress in the office, or your boss is having a bad day. For instance, if Fridays tend to be quieter days in the office, consider scheduling your meeting on a Friday to talk about increasing your compensation.

3. Focus on your accomplishments.

Focus on why you deserve a raise, not why you need a raise. You might be surprised at some of the things my staff would tell me that had nothing to do with their accomplishments at work. Like: 
  • “I need the money.”
  • “Things are tight right now.”
  • “Childcare just got much more expensive.”
  • “I’m getting married and need to pay for my honeymoon.”
While these are valid reasons to want a raise, to boost your chances of getting the “yes,” focus your argument on your performance at work. For example, did you save your company money over the past six months? Maybe you worked hundreds of hours of overtime over the last year on a big project? Or, perhaps you were given a lot more responsibilities at work but were never compensated for them.

4. Have a number in mind.

If I were on board with their argument, I would always ask how much more money they are looking for. But, trust me, those who had a specific number were far more likely to get the raise.
Never say, “I don’t know.” It means that you didn’t do your due diligence before the meeting and are probably just hoping for more money. Know how much you’re underpaid, then be prepared to ask for that amount of money to make up for the difference. This goes back to Tip #1. Understand what you are worth and be prepared to talk numbers.
This number can either be a specific dollar amount or a percentage. For instance, you might say something like, “Due to the increase in my responsibilities and overtime I’ve worked, and comparable salary data in this area, I think a 6 to 7% raise in compensation would be appropriate”.

5. Rehearse your argument.

It was always easy to tell who took the time to practice and rehearse their argument. Those people knew their numbers. They confidently and smoothly talked about their performance and accomplishments and were ready to address any questions or concerns.
As you practice, try to anticipate any questions or pushbacks that your boss might have and be prepared to address those concerns. For instance, I would routinely ask, “Why do you think you’re underpaid?” I’d also ask, “Are we giving you too many responsibilities?” The answer to this second question would tell me a lot about the motivation of my staff member who is asking for a raise.
Be prepared for the answer to be no. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t get a raise at all. It might just be the wrong time. But if your boss always says no and you’re certain that you are underpaid, then it might be time to look for other work. Always keep your resume up to date. Avoid those common mistakes on resumes and be prepared to proactively look for other work that pays you what you are worth.
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This article originally appeared in Wealth of Geeks.

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