how to ask for a raise.

  • career advice
  • March 28, 2019

Thinking of asking for a raise, but not sure of the right approach? Here are four things that should be top of mind going into that all-important conversation.

timing can be everything

You can't spell "praise" without "raise" — and sometimes how you ask for something matters less than when you ask. That's why the best moment to request a raise is in the immediate aftermath of a big accomplishment. While you're still basking in the glow of a recent achievement that clearly demonstrated your bottom-line value to the organization is the perfect time to start a compensation conversation with your boss. Let your momentum speak for itself, and serve as the leverage you need to propel yourself to higher pay.

But if you're trying to strike while the iron is still hot, there can be other sources of heat besides your own recent track record of success. Smart moments to initiate a conversation with your boss about a raise are:

  • in advance of your quarterly or annual performance review
  • at the start of a new fiscal year
  • when your company has recently closed a deal, landed a new client or secured additional revenue streams

The bottom line is that timing's absolutely critical — get it right and you're far more likely to meet with success when you ask for a raise.

commemorate (and communicate) wins in your current role

Proactively sharing good news about projects you're working on right now is a smart move on so many levels. For one, it makes other team members feel acknowledged and appreciated, which can build critical camaraderie between you and your coworkers. Beyond that, it also elevates your visibility within the organization — it's surprising how often one department or function in a company can be oblivious to what's going on in another. Finally, doing so will make it clear that you're exceeding expectations. And what better grounds are there than that for a pay raise?

begin to quantify your value

You're going to need to ask for a number, which can be a daunting task, forcing you to quantify the unique value that you bring to your company. At the same time, understanding that value — and properly framing it in terms that will resonate with senior-level decision-makers — is going to be key to loosening the organizational pursestrings.

Bear in mind: Value comes in many forms, not just deals closed, new business opportunities or sales. Efficiently managing a project, mentoring a teammate or simply going the extra mile to ensure deliverables arrive on time — any of these things are tremendously valuable to an organization.

That's why, when thinking about your number, a solid understanding of the average compensation levels in your role, industry and location is the best place to start. After all, you don't want to kick off this all-important conversation by asking your boss for a figure that's completely unheard of. And, fortunately, Randstad can help you out in that department. No matter your title, we have a comprehensive, nationwide salary guide for you, which should help you establish a reasonable baseline when asking for a raise. This is an essential first step as you begin to think about your value to the organization — and the number that you'll ultimately be aiming for.

build (and present) your case

Building and presenting your case is probably the most important — and most challenging — aspect of asking for a raise. While you'll need to focus on specific achievements, and quantify them in terms of bottom-line value as much as possible, the conversation shouldn't be restricted to the past. After all, the decision to give you a raise is an investment in the future health of the company. So talking about the things you're excited to achieve in the year ahead is a good idea, too.

A few other pointers to keep in mind:

  • Communicate your gratitude. Whether you ultimately wind up getting the raise or not, you're been given an opportunity to make the case that you deserve higher pay — and that alone is something to be thankful for. At the outset, therefore, you should clearly express your gratitude for the opportunity.
  • Avoid apologetic language. You've worked hard and delivered value to your company, so you deserve this — it's nothing to be sorry about.
  • Tell a compelling story. Try to present your wins in such a way that each achievement connects to and builds on the one that came before it. Doing so will make you seem poised for additional success down the line, which might help to justify the raise as an investment in future growth in the mind of your boss.
  • Expect questions. Your boss is no doubt going to have some questions for you — that's only natural. So stay calm, keep your wits about you and try to work your core messaging into your answers wherever possible.

Be sure to rehearse your pitch ahead of time, practicing with a friend or trusted colleague and asking for feedback to iron out the wrinkles. With proper prep, you should be able to walk into the room with confidence and poise — and feel like you're completely prepared to answer any questions that come your way, too.

key takeaways

There are probably few things you'll ever have to do in life that seem as nerve-wracking — or make you feel as vulnerable — as asking for a raise, but a little preparation can make it a whole lot easier. And with these four tips in mind, you'll be well positioned to ask for, and get, the pay you so richly deserve.