One of the most intimidating parts of having a real "adult" job is figuring out how to make more money while you're at it. We all know that asking for a raise is a classic part of this journey, but we also know that it’s hardly that simple. In an effort to make the process a little easier for you when the time comes, I'm here to give you the tools to prepare for that inevitable event.
Before you even consider asking for a raise it's important to take a good, hard, long look at yourself.
Are you in a position to ask for a raise? Have you been working at this company long enough? Has your performance been above standards (not just meeting the same expectations placed on everyone in your position)? Have you built up strong, positive relationships with both your superiors and your colleagues?
Make sure that you're brutally honest with yourself here. The fact of that matter is that no boss is going to want to give you more money if you're just asking for it because you think that your one year mark entitles you to one. Companies give promotions and raises to people who earn them with hard work. And if you don't earn your pay, think twice before asking for more. Greed is not an attractive quality.
Once you've taken the time to assess your eligibility for a raise, you’ll need to spend the next few months (yes, months) working even harder to blow the standards out of the water. Show up early every day. Be as efficient as possible. Speak up in meetings. Show your bosses (without even mentioning a raise) that you are a hard worker who cares about your job and the company you work for. Keep track of your accomplishments and be a reliable mentor for others in your position. If you really want your boss to consider you for a raise, you want them to already have an image of you in their head that deserves one.
Asking for the Raise
Whether you do this during your annual/quarterly/monthly review, or you simply schedule a meeting with your manager on the fly, make sure that it's a scheduled meeting, and make it clear that the meeting is to discuss your performance (don’t mention your wages ahead of time. Again, the appearance of greed won’t get you anywhere). Come prepared with examples of your successes, good feedback from the coworkers you've been helping, and a thorough understanding of what the average wage for someone in your position with your amount of experience is throughout the industry (websites like Glassdoor and PayScale are great for this).
Really allow the conversation to be back and forth when discussing your performance. Be honest but confident. Be open to feedback. Be a team player. Keep it neutral. If you enter the conversation with a personal vendetta, you're going to fail. Don't bring in any "Deborah got her promotion faster than me and she's always late," stories, and avoid any "I don't make enough to pursue my dreams." Both show a negative attitude. You want your manager to be impressed by you, not put off by an entitled and whiny demeanor.
Be friendly, and when the conversation is really going, mention that you feel that your hard work and consistently strong performance leads you to believe that you have earned an increase in salary.
Honest but confident.
The important thing to remember throughout this entire conversation is to be careful with your words. You don't want to boast, but you do want to display your accomplishments. You don't want to seem greedy, but you do want to ask for what you've earned. Think through each statement before you speak. Take your time. This is literally a life-changing moment.
What to Do If They Say No
I won’t lie to you: it might happen. Maybe your manager feels that there's a facet of your daily performance that needs some work. Maybe your five sick days in the last year have lead your superiors to question your reliability. Whatever it may be, it's important to both ask for the reasons, and to be open to what they are. Remember, these people are your superiors for a reason. They've worked to get there and they know what they're talking about. Accept any advice with grace and apply it immediately. Six months down the road, when you've shown yourself to be the type of employee that works for what they want, and understands how to apply constructive criticism, try again.
If there's one thing that I want to impress on you, it's that there is no easy way to ask for a raise. It's a difficult conversation to navigate and it will always be stressful. And there is no guarantee that it will go the way you want it to. It's important to be humble throughout the entire process. And whether you start making a couple grand more per year, or you find out that your performance isn't quite as good as you thought it was, know that simply by asking, you have taken a giant step towards becoming the savvy business man or woman that you were born to be!