IN THE MIDDLE | career advancement

Seeking Greener Pastures: How to Ask For A Pay Raise

By Alyanna Silvestre
Published October 06, 2021

Asking for a pay raise can be intimidating and nerve-wracking, and that’s double the pressure and awkwardness when everyone is over the edge due to the global health crisis. Unfortunately, even if you set this matter aside, the reality remains: if you want a raise (or anything, really), there’s no other way to get it other than work and ask for it. 

Many things hinder a professional from submitting a salary increase request, and among those is the fear of rejection and the fear of being seen as either desperate or arrogant, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for a raise that compensates for the value of your expertise and contributions to the company’s growth and performance. So, keep your chin up and be brave enough to ask for it.

If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry. Just remember that it’s not just about what you say but how you say it. Here are a few things that will help you step out of your comfort zone and negotiate for a higher salary:

Do your research

First, you’ll need to do your homework to support your request—research on the company’s goals, priorities, budget cycles, pay practices, and constraints. You also have to do compensation benchmarking and determine your market rate and how much people with the same skills and same position are earning. You can do this by visiting websites that provide a reliable breakdown of salary levels or reaching out to recruiters on LinkedIn and your colleagues or friends who work in your field to ask how much they think your salary should be. Following this research, the important details you will have at hand will help you decide how much to ask for, which should be an exact amount rather than just a range.

Know what to say

Aside from the numbers and facts you’ve gathered, you must also prepare a list of your accomplishments and contributions to the company, but you don’t have to just delve into past achievements. As part of the negotiation, you can discuss what else you can bring to the table once your request gets approved. Doing so will help your boss or the HR department visualize how you add value to the company, which will help them understand why you deserve a raise. 

Choose the right timing

Sometimes, timing is the key.

Suppose you’ve accomplished quite a lot since your last performance review. In that case, the next one can be a fitting moment to ask for a raise, or maybe at the end of a positive financial or calendar year when the company and the higher-ups are assessing business results and forming strategic plans for the following year. Whatever time you choose, make sure you make your move while your boss is happy and in a good mood. It’s also best to give your boss time to evaluate your request and do their own research on the matter at hand so you won’t have them feeling cornered or pressured, which could impact your professional relationship negatively.

Don’t forget to practice

Despite going through so much preparation by researching and bringing up your request at the right time, the fact that salary increase negotiations can be nerve-wracking remains, so don’t forget to practice.

If you’re still scared of messing the whole thing up, you can write a script and practice beforehand to find weaknesses in your argument and to ensure that come negotiation day, your dialogue will sound compelling, objective, professional, and relevant. 

Carry yourself with confidence

When the day comes to meet your boss, make sure you’re done convincing yourself that you are deserving of a raise before attempting to convince someone else. Carry yourself with confidence, but don’t be overconfident. And when presenting your case and the concrete facts you’ve prepared, don’t forget to keep the conversation objective and respectful, and refrain from comparing yourself to your workmates nor bring anyone else down to put yourself a little higher. Your request for a pay raise only involves you, your unique contributions to the company, and your boss’s decision, so focus on your efforts and work rather than bringing up a co-worker in a bad light.

If all else fails, you can either show your willingness to compromise, ask them what you need to do to qualify for a salary increase, or even try to negotiate for other things like benefits or flexible work arrangements while maintaining respect and composure. Remember that a ‘no’ can mean different things, so be sure to clarify what their decision means. Good luck!

For more discussions about career advancement, feel free to explore our IN THE MIDDLE and HEADHUNTED sections, where you can find solutions and career development advice for aspiring professionals and middle managers.