How to Ask for a Raise


bukkitPeople want to know how to ask for a raise.

There is no straightforward answer.

In many small companies, margins are tight. There are no raises to be had for anyone. You will be given a raise when your supervisor or owner can afford it.

In larger companies, raises are awarded at designated points in the year. You can ask for an off-cycle raise, but the mechanics involved in getting a raise are complicated. And the question I always asked people was simple: Why you and not someone else?

I think therein lies the real challenge. What is it about your performance that compels the company to take money from another bucket of the company and put more cash in your bucket. Are you a rock star? Do you meet and exceed sales quotas? Do you solve problems that no one else solves? Are you paid so far below the rate of your peers that it’s almost illegal?

And I think it’s good to take stock of reality before you go asking for something that may or may not come your way. Never hurts to prepare for bad news. Think it through, okay? Do you like what you’re doing enough to keep doing it at a discounted rate? Are there other intangibles that make your low salary worthwhile? Would it be a pain in the ass to look for a new job?

No one has those answers except for you.

But this is a long answer to the short question of, “How do I ask for a raise?”

  • Identify the person who owns the budget. He might not be your boss.
  • Speak clearly and succinctly. Don’t beat around the bush.
  • Have a list of documented reasons why you deserve a raise. If you feel uncomfortable asking for a raise in a direct way, ask for your compensation to be evaluated against your peers and in the marketplace.

And then don’t hold your breath.

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