If you’re not happy with your current pay, then you should consider asking for a raise. Although asking for more money can be nerve-wracking, you deserve to be paid what you’re worth.
If you don’t know how to make the ask, don’t worry. In this article, we discuss when and how to ask for a raise so you’re poised for success.
When to Ask for a Raise: It’s All About Timing
Negotiating salary outside of an interview setting requires tact and good timing. If your raise request comes at a bad time, such as after a series of layoffs or right before a performance review, you can hinder your chances of getting a raise in the future.
With that in mind, here are some pointers on when to ask for a raise.
During annual or quarterly performance reviews
Businesses use performance reviews to discuss your contributions to and future with the company. If your manager plans on giving you a raise, an annual or quarterly review is usually when they bring it up. If they don’t bring up your pay or you don’t expect them to, it’s still a good time for you to ask about a raise.
After completing a big project
If your contributions to a big project were crucial to its success, you deserve recognition. This can come in the form of a “thank you” in the hallway or a shoutout on the company Slack channel, but what about a raise?
Commendable and consistent job performance warrants a raise, but again, timing is everything. If there isn’t a performance review in the near future, then it’s a good time to schedule a meeting to have that raise conversation while your contribution is still fresh in your manager’s mind.
When your manager is free
A good time to discuss a higher salary with your manager is when their schedule is open. If their day is booked up or if it’s a busy time of year for your business, then your inquiry to discuss your salary might frustrate them more than anything.
Salary negotiation is an art, and you can ruin your professional reputation if your request isn’t executed tactfully. That said, how you present your case is equally important to timing it correctly.
How to Ask for a Raise in 5 Steps
The best way to ask for a raise varies depending on your company culture and recent accomplishments. If you’re going to broach the conversation, though, it’s best to prepare beforehand.
1. Know your worth and what is a reasonable ask
How do you put a number on your worth? It requires doing some salary research. Start by looking into the average market rate for your position while considering what’s realistic at your company. To quickly determine your market rate, use tools like Glassdoor’s salary calculator or LinkedIn’s salary comparison insights. These sites use algorithms and real-world salaries to show you market averages for your job title.
Once you’ve got a salary range in mind, you also need to consider what’s realistic for your company. Some companies tend to hand out 5-10% raises throughout the year, while others may only offer 1-2% raises during an annual review. Think about your company’s culture before asking for that 12% salary increase.
2. Build your case and anticipate questions
Once you’ve got a reasonable salary range in mind, you can start building your case for your raise. Years of experience and consistent work performance outweigh personal reasons, such as financial issues at home. Remember that you need to prove you’ve earned your raise as well.
To build a strong case, you need to have specific examples of your hard work either written out as notes you can reference or memorized. For example, If you’ve acquired new responsibilities but have the same job title, you could discuss how you’re taking on tasks outside of the job description you were hired to perform.
To take your point further, you could also show your manager the impact you’ve had since taking on your new responsibilities. This could be a chart or graph showing how you’ve saved the company a certain amount of money over time or improved company processes so they’re more efficient. Presenting successful metrics is a great way to display your strengths as an employee.
At this point, you can naturally segue into the salary discussion. Mention that you think you’re underpaid in light of your recent accomplishments. This way, you’ve justified your case with hard numbers.
With that in mind, you should expect some follow up questions from their end.
Here’s an example:
Q: “We’ve always paid employees with your title this amount. Why should we pay you more?”
A: “I’ve researched the average salary and job responsibilities of similar roles in my field. Based on the average market rate for an employee with my title, I feel like I’m not being compensated fairly.”
What if they poke holes in your salary research?
Here’s an example and how you can tactfully respond:
Q: “The market average you presented seems a little high. Do you think you should make that much?”
A: “I think my pay should be commensurate with my performance and responsibilities. Based on my current rate of pay, I think it’s fair that I should make more. Do you agree?”
Keep your tone professional as possible. If you can get your manager to acknowledge you should make more, you’ve made progress. Still, you should refrain from stating how high of a raise you want.
One suggestion is to ask if you could at least get a raise within the company’s pay band for your role. It may or may not meet the market average you researched, but it might reach your company’s wage ceiling for your position.
3. Schedule a meeting
If there aren’t any meetings on the horizon between you and your manager, you should take the initiative and schedule one. When scheduling a meeting, it’s best to include a salary increase letter in your email. That way, your manager knows what to expect beforehand. You can find a good template for your letter here, but we’ve included the points you’ll want to highlight below:
- Include your reasons for asking for a pay raise, like your recent accomplishments or new responsibilities.
- Mention the last time you had a raise. This is especially important if you haven’t had a pay bump in the last year.
- Provide a reasonable salary range or percentage. A 3-5% raise is pretty typical, or you might suggest a range that’s slightly higher.
- Provide your salary research. You should briefly mention that the raise you're requesting is based on your market and salary research.
It’s also a good idea to dress the part. Even if you work in a business casual environment, consider wearing something that puts you in the best professional light. This could mean wearing dress shoes with your jeans instead of sneakers or strolling in with a suit and tie. It’s up to you to understand your company’s expectations, but it’s better to overdress than underdress.
4. Ask the right way, but when you do, be confident
There’s no need to memorize what you’ll say, but it helps to come prepared. Here’s a basic outline of what you want to highlight:
- Thank your superior for giving you more responsibilities.
- Explain to them how you’ve performed and that you’ve done commendable work.
- Transition into your pay and how you think your new responsibilities and recent accomplishments warrant a raise.
- Give them a reasonable salary range based off your salary research.
- Give them the floor to talk.
Once you’ve delivered your pitch (and keep it brief), it’s time to hear what they have to say.
5. Hope for ‘yes’, be prepared to expect ‘no’
Your salary discussion can go one of two ways: They can agree to your request and offer a salary adjustment, or they can decline your request. They may ask for time to consider your request, too. Either way, you have to stay professional. If you get the raise, you should thank your manager and mention that you’re excited to continue working hard.
If you don’t get the raise, keep your cool and ask your manager if they have any advice as to how you can get a raise in the future. If they don’t give you a clear answer or it seems like they’ll never give you that raise, it may be time to look for a new opportunity. The main thing to remember is that they should respect your request. If they take you seriously, they should provide a detailed answer as to how you can progress and advance within the company.
You Asked for a Raise — Now What?
If you got your raise, congratulations. If not, then you’re stuck with your current salary and (possibly) an awkward work situation.
Here’s the thing — after so many years of waiting on that next raise, you realize quickly how many pay raises you’ll need to make considerable financial progress. For example, imagine you make $50,000 and your goal is to make $60,000. If you expect a 3% salary increase year-over-year, it will take you approximately seven years to hit that goal.
Take a look at these numbers:
- Year 1: $50,000 + $1,500 raise = $51,500
- Year 2: $51,500 +$1,545 raise = $53,045
- Year 3: $53,045 + $1,591 raise = $54,636
- Year 4: $54,636 +$1,639 raise = $56,275
- Year 5: $56,275 +$1,688 raise = $57,963
- Year 6: $57,963 +$1,738 raise = $59,701
- Year 7: $59,701 + $1,791 raise = $61,492
If you didn’t get your raise or you did and you’re still not satisfied, what’s next?
Many professionals choose to start their own business. It’s the ultimate raise when you think about it because you determine what you make at the end of the day — and it comes with its own perks:
- You pay yourself: When you own your own business, you control how much you make. If business is good, then you can adjust your salary as needed.
- You are your own boss: Forget promotions and working up the company ladder. Starting a business means you’re at the top rung, and it feels good to be your own boss.
- Job satisfaction: Perhaps the greatest benefit of owning your own business is the sense of fulfillment you get at the end of the day. When your business thrives, there’s no greater feeling in the world. According to a recent survey, 64% of business owners claimed they were pleased with their job satisfaction while less than 1% said they were unhappy with it.
So what’s the best way to start a business? Going at it alone can be risky. That’s where Main Street comes in.
Get a Raise With Main Street
At Main Street, we believe in helping our business owners succeed every step of the way. We set you up with an established business model so you can start your very own painting business. Here’s what you can look forward to:
- Training from industry pros: We’ve handpicked business development professionals with proven track records to guide you from start to finish.
- Marketing support: We help steer your marketing and branding so you can focus on running your business.
- Quick startup time: After submitting your application, you can be on your way to starting your business within 3-6 weeks.
Getting a Permanent Raise
If you want to make more money, asking for a raise is smart. Use the five steps above and you’ll maximize your chances of getting a “yes.”
But be sure to consider all your options. Do you want to control what you make or let someone else dictate your earning potential? You can give yourself a raise — permanently — by starting your own business. Our model is designed to make you successful in as little time as possible.
Want in? Take our New Owner Program quiz to see if Main Street is a fit for you.