There may be times in your career when you think you deserve a raise. But it’s not always obvious when (or how) you should ask for one. And the thought of rejection may keep you from speaking up.
While no single gender or racial or ethnic group is statistically more likely to ask for a raise, white men receive raises far more often when they ask compared to people of color, according to a study by Payscale.
Asking for a raise can be scary. But taking small steps to prepare can set you up for success. In fact, 70 percent of workers who ask for a raise get one, according to the same Payscale study. Here are the do’s and don’ts of asking for a higher salary.
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“The very first thing you should do when asking for a pay raise is to decide what your value is,” says Darcy Eikenberg, a leadership coach at Red Cape Revolution. “Value is an arbitrary term, so you have to define it for yourself. Value is in the eye of the beholder.”
While this may be true in many cases, remember that if your job directly relies on you bringing in sales or revenue for your company, then your value to the company can actually be measured.
“Ask, ‘What is my contribution that creates value beyond my job description?’” Eikenberg adds.
Your value to the company may be determined by how you’ve helped the business in money, time, or energy.
Tracking your accomplishments throughout the year can help you visualize your value. Don’t wait until right before a performance evaluation to put everything down; you will be less likely to remember. This record will make it easy for your boss to see your value at the company, Eikenberg says.
Get a feel for what else is out there in terms of pay. Take into consideration the cost of living in your area and how much other employees with a similar skill set in your industry are paid. Use this as a range to base your request on. But know it’s not gospel.
“Online resources are great, but you should really be talking to other people at the company, especially people who recently left,” Eikenberg says. “They will have a better idea of what’s true in your organization.”
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Approaching the Conversation
Try and time the big question around a company-wide performance review or right after a big accomplishment. Make sure this conversation takes place in person and, most importantly, don’t make the request too personal.
“Make sure the ask isn’t about you,” Eikenberg says. “We make the mistake of feeling like it’s about your needs or that you deserve this and therefore should get it.”
She suggests focusing on answering the question, “Why are you worth what you’re asking for?”
“If you can back that up with examples, and it’s clear you’ve done your homework, you will be more successful,” she says.
What to Do If You’re Rejected
Try to stay as positive as possible throughout the process, and don’t take rejection too seriously. Being denied a salary increase may be indicative of other factors, like the company’s financial performance, Eikenberg says.
If you can’t get a higher salary, consider negotiating other aspects of your job, including more paid time off, bonuses, and other benefits.
“Before asking, make sure you know what the pay is really about for you,” she says. “Is it about status? Freedom? There may be a non-cash equivalent to what you’re asking for, like a role change.”
Eikenberg says that hearing “no” shouldn’t prompt you to immediately look for another job.
If overall you believe you are being compensated fairly, your benefits package is solid, and there are growth opportunities available within the company, you may want to consider staying put.
Lastly, don’t give an ultimatum unless you’re willing to leave your job. It almost never goes over well, Eikenberg says — and leaving may not be the best move.
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What to Do If You Believe You Are Facing Bias
Men of color are 25 percent less likely than white men to receive a raise, while women of color were 19 percent less likely than their white male counterparts, according to Payscale’s study. Even if we don’t like to think about it, a bias can exist whether it’s subconscious or not.
If you believe your job performance is being unfairly influenced or measured, there are steps you can take to ensure you have covered all your bases.
- If your manager says no for right now, ask for a specific timeline of when you can have the conversation again. This will give you an indicator of how likely a raise may be in the future.
- Follow up with your manager via email on the specifics of your conversation. Reiterate, in writing, the details of your ask, your manager’s response to your request, and any timelines mentioned.
- Ask trusted colleagues about the salary benchmarks for your position at your company. Also check in with other employees of color. If there is a history of similar obstacles, it may be an idea to raise the issue with human resources.
What to Expect After You Ask
Don’t go into the salary negotiation expecting an answer right away. There’s a good chance your boss wants to think it over, or needs to discuss it with human resources. In either case, rushing them to make a decision will likely push them toward “no,” Eikenberg says.
Give your boss time to think over your request, but don’t let it fall off their radar. A gentle reminder a couple of weeks later shows you’re still committed and are open to further discussions, she says.
If you do get that raise — congratulations! Here are nine things to do after you get a raise to make the most of your extra money.
Additional reporting by Kelly Meehan Brown.
This article originally appeared on Policygenius.