How to ask for a pay raise — and get it

Don't doubt your worth! Here's how to ask for a pay raise in five easy steps.
Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Overworked and feeling underpaid? Asking for a raise can be nerve-wracking. Here’s how to launch yourself into the next pay grade, in five easy steps.

1. Know your role
Do your research. Use sites like payscale.com to find out the average pay range for your job description. Take your experience into consideration as well. Have you been with the company for a while? Don’t let a recent mat leave or the fact that you need to leave a bit early for the daycare run lower your confidence. (Parents deserve promotions, too!)

2. Can your company afford it?
If your company is struggling to pay bills, a raise may not be in the immediate future. Manage your salary expectations accordingly, and ask for a raise that is realistic for your company to pay.

3. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate
Figure out a salary that you’d be satisfied with and then ask for a little more money in your annual performance review. This way, if you have to negotiate back and forth, you’ll have a little wiggle room. (And if your employer agrees to the higher salary, hallelujah!)

4. Get over your fear
You’re not going to surprise anyone by asking for a raise in an annual review, so you may as well do it. The worst-case scenario is that your employer says no, and you’ll be no worse off than before. Asking for a raise within the standard pay scale of your position is normal — it doesn’t mean you’re greedy.

5. Add value
Companies employ people to help make them profitable. Regardless of your role, your job is to bring in money (like sales) or save them money (employee retention, efficient operations). Showcase how you add value. If you only do the bare minimum every day, chances are you’re not going to get a raise, even if you ask. But if you demonstrate how you’re making the company more profitable, your chances are good.

A version of this article appeared in our January 2014 issue with the headline “Fast-track to the top,” p. 59.

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