How to Negotiate a Raise

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You work hard and do your job well. During your annual review, you might walk into your boss’s office and hope to walk out with a bump up in your salary. But, that’s not always the case, and the process can take a bit longer. In fact, research shows fewer companies are giving out yearly raises. Even when they do, the increase typically hovers around three percent or less, which just about covers the cost of inflation for the year.

What’s the most effective way to ask for a meaningful raise? There are a few things to know to help yourself feel better-prepared for the process. Use these tips to feel confident about negotiating a new level of compensation that reflects the important work you do.

Set a Meeting

If you want a raise, start preparing yourself to request it. To do that, set up a meeting with your boss. Get yourself on his or her schedule to discuss your future. You can call it a “review session” or an “advancement meeting.” The idea is to set clear intentions so your boss knows what you plan to talk about.

Pick a Good Time

If you can, try to set up the meeting at an advantageous time. For example, say you just completed a big project or managed someone else’s duties while he or she was on leave. That’s a good time to showcase the work you’ve done. Sometimes, there isn’t an ideal time, and that’s okay. If you want to discuss a raise, make an appointment with your boss for a week or two later to give yourself time to prepare.

Know What You Want

Before you walk into the office for your meeting, plan out what you want and how you’ll ask for it. How much of a raise do you want? How much is reasonable? Experts typically suggest asking for a 10 to 20 percent increase in salary.

However, before you commit to asking for a 20 percent raise, do some homework. What are other people in similar positions paid? Look online for average salary amounts. Talk with trusted colleagues to make sure what you’re asking for is within reason.

Remember that a negotiation isn’t restricted to your salary only. You might want to ask for a 10 percent raise and request additional vacation days, a gym membership or a cell phone reimbursement.

Show Your Worth

After asking for more money, be prepared to demonstrate how much you’re worth it. Highlight your accomplishments and the results of projects. Mention teams you’ve managed and discuss efforts you’ve made that brought in additional revenue. Now isn’t the time to be humble. It’s the time to show your boss how committed you are to the company.

Remember that your boss might not know about all of your accomplishments. Supervisors often get wrapped up in their day-to-day schedules. While your boss might recognize a job well done once in a while, he or she likely isn’t tracking your progress as a whole.

Plan a Follow-Up

Your boss may not agree to your raise instantly and may want some time to process everything you’ve discussed. For now, be prepared to hear “I’ll get back you.” Before you leave the table, ask when and how you should follow up. Mark your calendar to follow up on the specified date.

Ideally, your boss will come to you with a response, but that might not happen. If you haven’t heard anything in a week or two, schedule your follow-up meeting.

Expect a Negotiation

Ideally, your boss will give you what you asked for. It’s likely though that he or she may come back with a counter offer. It’s a negotiation, after all.

Research suggests that 70 percent of employees who ask for raises do receive some kind of increase, according to PayScale and Forbes. Your boss could offer you a five-percent raise rather than the full 20 percent you asked for. In that case, you might counter by asking for other benefits like additional vacation time.

If your boss denies your request altogether, ask what you can do to make the raise a reality within the next year. Maybe there are additional responsibilities you can take on. There may be professional development courses you can take that’ll boost your skills and prepare you to join a new level at the company.

Keep Your Cool

No matter what response you get from your boss, keep your response and attitude professional. Being turned down for a raise you think you deserve is upsetting. But, remember that your behavior also speaks to your character and professionalism. Have a strategy in place to remain calm. By doing so, you can always approach your boss for a raise again at a later point.

Negotiating a raise doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you do your homework, know what you want and are prepared for a professional conversation, you can reap rewards. Even if your boss requests that you wait, you’ll have gotten some great negotiating practice and experience for the future.

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