How to Ask For A Raise

I have to admit that supervising people can be a very rewarding experience. It also can be frustrating, sometimes even maddening.

People come to me with different set of problems. Some like to complain about others. Some like to ask for advice or direction they need to take with a project. Some like to have a conversation about a raise, the most intimidating discussion of all. However, I believe that if this conversation is timed correctly, researched and approached properly, the subject of a raise is not intimidating. Not at all. If anything, it can be a positive experience.

However, just because you think you deserve a raise, it does not mean that you are going to get it.

I am a good listener. In general. But I don’t like to waste my time, especially if it comes down to complaints or salary conversations. I like to have meaningful conversations, supported by facts. I don’t like to hear assumptions, opinions or gossip. I also don’t like you waltzing into my office like you own it. Respect my time. Respect your time (you should be working on that project after all.) Make an appointment! 

When it comes to salary negotiations, this is what I want to hear from you:

1. You love your job, you enjoy coming to work and being a part of a team. Hint: Do not praise me! Ass kissing has never won me over.

2. Your achievements that go above and beyond your job description. I already know them anyway, but I want to hear it from you. Please be specific and tell me what problems you solved, how much time and cost you saved, how you improved a certain process. Hint: the more examples you provide, the better.

3. Your value to the company. If you can show me how valuable you are to us, I will be more inclined to listen to you, and act on your raise request. Hint: document your accomplishments, and show it to me. I love to see the evidence.

4. “What can I do to increase my salary in the future?” This sentence opens a door to a very good conversation. Hint: This question shows me that you are interested in what I have to say. I am intrigued by what you have to offer. I like having open-minded conversations, therefore I am willing to listen.

5. A reasonable figure based on your market research. Hint: you are not trying to sell me a car, or an oriental rug in a Turkish bazaar. Please, don’t be pathetic and try to bid me up by starting high and lowering your price (aka salary.)

If you want us to have a meaningful conversation, and, most importantly, if you want me to consider your raise request, please do not say the following:

1. I need money. (I need money too! Got five bucks on you?)

2. I have bills to pay. (News Flash: we don’t pay you based on your financial needs. We pay you based on your value to the company.)

3. I deserve this. (If you do use this word, you better be able to show me that you indeed do deserve the raise. I don’t like your attitude of entitlement especially when it comes to salary negotiations. The word “deserve” sets me off. So by now, I am pissed.)

4. I quit. (I hope you have a job lined up.)

5. DO NOT CRY. (I will hand you my Kleenex and ask you to come back later. Much later. Months, years later. We are in the office, not at a funeral. Let’s not get emotional. Remember, it is business, not a personal conversation over a beer.

Most importantly, remember that you are selling yourself in order to get a raise. You are not begging, arguing or threatening.

You are going to get extra bonus points:

1. If you set a timeframe for me to give you an answer. I never say “no” right away (assuming you followed the steps outlined in the first half of this post.) If you ask me for a specific timeframe for my decision, I will give you extra points because it is something that I would do myself.

2. If you thank me for my time. I feel appreciated and respected. My time is valued. I already like you!

3. If you email me a thank-you note. You just documented our conversation, and you have a record to fall on when following-up with me. I like the way you think!

The Last But Not the Least

If I say “no”, be prepared to ask “why.” Listen to understand, and not to respond. If I (your boss) cannot give you any reasonable, warranted and sound explanation why “not now,” you should consider to start looking for another job.

Want me to discuss any specific topic? Have a question? Got a situation and need advice? Feel free to email me anonymously (or not.)

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