How to Properly Ask Your Employer for a Salary Increase

Asking a boss for a raise can be a tricky and uncomfortable feat. Current trends seem to indicate that with the improved economy, salary freezes have begun to thaw. Recent statistics indicate that, overall, employees are making more than they previously did. Before the economic downturn, most employees received a cost of living raise each year. That was put on hold when the money flow was interrupted by a depressed economy.

The time to ask for a raise has returned. If you are ready to speak up for yourself and ask for a raise in salary, you will need to proceed from a position of confidence and facts. Most employees ask for a raise after their annual review. However, if you wait until the “traditional” time to ask for a raise, you may be lost in the shuffle, or worse yet, your boss may be so deluged with requests that he or she grows tired of speaking with everyone. Find out how to ask your employer for a salary increase in a way that makes them say “yes.”

Timing is Everything When Asking for a Raise

The best time to ask for a raise is shortly after you have done something praiseworthy or notable for the company. While most will wait for the annual review, it is to your benefit to ask for a raise soon after doing something that makes you stand out from the crowd. Do a little research to ensure there is a positive atmosphere in your employer’s life and workspace before approaching. Make an appointment and do not show up on his or her doorstep asking for a raise. When you make an appointment, if you are required to give a reason, tell him or her you would like to discuss your performance and compensation. Certain industries tend to give raises several times a year while others do so sparingly or usually once a year. The frequency of raises depends on how competitive your industry is and how you perform for the company. Most supervisors are given only a certain amount of money to work with when it comes to employees’ raises, so getting there sooner as opposed to later is to your advantage.

Numbers Matter: Just the Facts

Before presenting your case, you need to be clear about what it is you want and why you should get what you are asking for. Essentially, you are telling your employer that you are more valuable than you were before. To prove that, you need facts and numbers to back up your claim. Review any new responsibilities you have taken on or the significant growth you have contributed to with your department or the company. It is important to keep track of your personal stats because these are numbers that speak to managers and employers. This is not the time to be shy about your accomplishments, and you should not assume that your boss knows all the work that you have been involved in and what you have accomplished. Most bosses are very busy managing multiple projects and departments. Often, once you bring up the tasks you have been assigned and ask for fair compensation, most bosses are only too ready to get the ball rolling to give you an increase.

How Much Should You Ask For?

When figuring out how much to ask for, you need to do some homework. You will need to know what the approximate budget is for the company. A general rule of thumb is that a company sets aside approximately five percent to cover raises each year. You will want to stay within the average percentage. For example, if other workers received a three percent raise the previous year, you would want to stay within that amount. If you do not know what the average is, compare what other employees at other companies doing similar work are making. You can utilize job postings, speak with job recruiters or even ask your human resources officer. Let the manager or employer you speak with suggest an amount. In many cases, he or she will offer you more than you would have asked for to begin with. If the offer is a bit lower than you had expected, however, tell him or her what you had in mind and ask if there is some way to meet in the middle.

Playing the Employee Retention Card

Depending on your industry and if you are a star performer, you may want to play the employee retention card. To utilize this tactic successfully, you will need a bit of finesse. You should not simply state that you will resign if you do not get the raise you want. Instead, you should suggest that while you like the company and would like to stay with them long-term, you also understand there is a discrepancy between what you are currently making and the industry average. Understand that you should be very judicious when it comes to playing this card. Often times, even if the employer agrees to the raise as a result of the retention card being played, it may leave a less than stellar impression on him or her.

What to Do If the Answer Is No

Sometimes, though you have presented your best case, the answer is going to be no. This can be for a number of reasons, some of them having nothing to do with your actual value or contribution to the company. You can ask, however, what it would take to earn a raise in the near future, or when he or she expects to be able to offer raises in the future. Getting turned down for a raise is not the end of the conversation. It has simply paused for the moment. Continue to gather your data and revisit the discussion with your boss at a later date.