How to Ask For a Raise and Get It

Learn how to increase your chances of getting a raise.

Published: Oct 4, 2019

There's no doubt about it: the question of how to ask for a raise is one of the trickiest in a person's career.

And it isn't just because of the inherent awkwardness that comes with any conversation about money. It's because the rate of achieving a positive outcome and actually getting a raise is surprisingly low. According to a study published in 2018, men who ask for a raise are successful 20% of the time, while women who ask for a raise are successful only 15% of the time.

You can really increase your chances of getting a raise if you pay attention to the responsibilities of those in the role above you.

While fluctuations in company budgets and other factors-like whether or not the country is on the brink of recession-play a role in whether or not you get the raise you ask for, experts say employees who come prepared and anticipate what their manager is looking for have the best chance of success. So before you set a meeting with your boss, read on for tips on how to ask for a raise and get it.

Think beyond the annual review when you ask for a raise.
Many people assume annual performance reviews are the once-a-year chance to ask for a raise. But asking your boss for periodic check-ins can help ensure you're delivering on expectations and keep you top of mind come raise time. "Eventually you'll be knocking out those performance objectives so quickly, your boss might be the one to start the money conversation," says Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry.

Perform above your pay grade to raise your chances of getting a raise.
We often focus on standing out in our current roles. But you can really increase your chances of getting a raise if you pay attention to the responsibilities of those in the role above you. A junior director at a marketing firm, for instance, might talk to his or her boss about what a director role entails, and then seek out opportunities to take on more of those responsibilities.

Don't worry about coming across too strong: if you're able to stretch your current duties, and still deliver the goods, it isn't sucking up. "It's proving you have something that others within your current position don't," says Tom McMullen, a senior client partner at Korn Ferry. And that’s a great place to be in when you ask for a raise.

Make a case for a raise by focusing on the business, not yourself.
Sure, you may be tempted to remind your boss of all of those late nights and weekends you pulled, but the best way to ask for a raise is by talking about how your efforts saved the company money, increased sales, or furthered an important initiative. Come prepared with specific examples and back your performance up with data wherever possible-e.g., "Sales are up 50% when we only expected them to be up 20%." This shows that you're invested in the overall company and not just yourself.

Share accolades regularly, not just the moment you ask for a raise.
Instead of waiting until you’re sitting in your boss’s office, about to ask for a raise, to present the positive feedback you received from clients and colleagues during the year, make it a consistent and subtle practice. When a client emails you to say you've done a marvelous job on a project, copy your boss on your reply and thank the client for the kind words. (If it was a team effort, be sure to mention that in your response.)

By doing this, you're sending a positive signal to your boss that things are going well with that account--which he or she will want to know anyway when considering whether to award you the raise you asked for--while also showing your support for the team's work.

The best way to ask for a raise is in a face-to-face conversation.
While it's true that millennial managers say online messaging is their preferred mode of communication, you should ask for a raise in person. Having a discussion about raises is one of the "most important interactions" a boss and employee can have, McMullen says. "I'm not a fan of having these discussions by email or text." If you work remotely, set up a time for a video chat, so you can at least ask for a raise face-to-face.

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