The Art of the Follow-Up
What you need to know about staying in touch, professionally.
If you want a bigger salary, you have to ask for one.
You work hard, don't you? You're a loyal employee and a valuable team member, right? So you probably deserve a raise. If you're itching for a increase that has yet to come your way, you can and should approach your boss to discuss a boost in salary. Of course, if you haven't exactly been working hard, if you've been caught wasting time online or needed an excuse for that one late project, then a raise may be a tougher sell. Companies tend to want to keep their best, most productive workers, so if you can be such an employee, your employer should want to keep you happy. But before you dive into that conversation, here are a few tips for making it more effective.
Don't wait until you're sitting down for your annual review. Your boss is dealing with multiple people during that week and most salary budgets are set far in advance of standard performance review meetings. A better time is to schedule a meeting three months before your annual review. Or when you've just finished a major project successfully and are about to take on another major project. Similarly, if you have the opportunity to take on a larger than average assignment (for example, if someone leaves and you take on their role in addition to your typical duties).
Is your company doing well? If it's been a tough year, it may make a bump in pay a tougher sell. You'll also need to be specific with your boss about how much you'd like to get paid. Find out what others in your position are earning, because if you're earning less, a raise will seem more reasonable. Sites like Glassdoor and Salary Expert are a good starting point for earnings comparisons. Then make your case. Focus on the value you create for the company, as that matters much more to your employer than how long you've been in your position. Come to the table with a printed list of your accomplishments, and be as specific as possible, especially when it comes to dollars. They should have measurable results. For example: Signed four new clients in the past six months, bringing in business valued at $800,000, or reworked our team's production process, increasing efficiency by 25%.
No one likes asking for money. And some people don't regularly talk one-on-one with their manager or boss. So it's easy and natural to get nervous and flustered. But you need confidence for a negotiation, so map out what you're going to say to your manager and practice it in advance. You could even enlist the help of a friend who will role play the scenario with you, as this will give you an opportunity to address your manager's potential reaction and follow-up questions.
The old adage rings true. It's not personal, it's business. Maybe you want a raise because you just moved into a more expensive apartment or want a new car or need funds to pay for your dog's hip replacement. But rather than ask for an increase from a necessity standpoint, make a solid case for why you deserve a raise. Don't compare yourself to co-workers—stick to your field in general. Keep your emotions in check and never threaten to quit unless you really mean it. If you give your boss an ultimatum—"I need a raise or I can't work here anymore"—you may find yourself packing up your desk.
Your request could be denied for a number of reasons. Don't get discouraged, simply shift gears. "Suggest an upgrade in your position," says career coach Marty Nemko. "It's easier for your employer to rationalize a higher salary if your job description is changed to include higher-level work." Ask to reopen negotiations in a few months. Ask what it might take for you to get a raise by that time and make a plan to accomplish said metrics.