It was my first week after taking leadership of the internship program at work, and I was feeling…exhausted. You know the feeling. For all intents and purposes, you just got promoted, but you didn’t get a raise OR a new title. You DID, however, get a nice little bundle of extra responsibility and, in my case, 16 people to manage. And that’s awesome! Taking on more responsibility at work gives you the opportunity to learn new skills, get extra experience, and prove how valuable you are to the company (And if you’re stuck in a job where you DON’T have those opportunities, check out Skillcrush’s guide to getting one!). In an ideal world, your boss or client would notice your great work and give you a raise. Unfortunately, that is seldom the case, and you have to learn how to ask for a raise.
So how do you ask for a raise and get it? You need to show how you add value to the organization, show your accomplishments, and do your research. Follow these six tips for how to ask for a raise (and get one)!
Set up a Meeting
Maybe it should go without saying, but you should always set up a meeting to discuss a pay raise. As tempting as it can be to bring it up in passing or even shoot a quick chat or email in your boss’s direction, resist the urge.
Talking in a face-to-face meeting is necessary because your boss will be able to give you their full attention. Chances are, they're not dreaming of giving you a raise. It will be harder for them to dismiss your request in a scheduled meeting with no distractions making it easy to refocus on a more pleasant topic.
Also, your boss is more likely to take your request seriously if you’re in a dedicated meeting. If you bring it up in passing, it may come across as a whim rather than a reasoned argument.
Write a List of Accomplishments
Be prepared to discuss your accomplishments. If you’re asking for more, you have to show WHY you deserve more. It’s especially important to show how your contributions have added value to the company.
Think about how you’ve earned money for the company, for example through sales, upsells, or creating efficiencies. Numbers are very convincing, so consider including statistics and tangible data wherever possible. Instead of saying you doubled monthly sales, say that you grew monthly sales by 50 percent, a difference of $130,000. Pretty powerful, isn’t it?
You can also include praise from team members or clients to show that your work is valued internally. But instead of just telling your boss that you’re respected on the team, try quoting team members’ and clients’ praise from emails.
Do Your Research
Use sites like PayScale, Glassdoor, and Salary.com to find out the market rate for your role. This research will come in handy when your boss asks you for the amount you’d like to make or tells you the amount they'd like to give you.
Researchers at Columbia Business School found that it’s best to give a precise number as opposed to a round number because it makes the person seem well-informed. People who gave a precise number were more likely to get conciliatory counteroffers. For example, instead of saying you want 60 or 65K, ask for $63,500.
And remember, receiving a raise is about demonstrating that you’ve gone above and beyond expectations—not just checked off all of your regular job duties. Statistics are great evidence that you’re rising above your standard job requirements.
It’s also helpful to know that the average raise is between one and five percent. You don’t want to ask for too much or too little.
Explain What You’ll Do in the Future
Volunteer for a project—or create one!— by identifying a problem, then coming up with and executing a solution. Be proactive and offer to lead the new initiative. For example, when I noticed that there were interdepartmental projects that needed to be completed, and a lot of people asking to intern, I created a proposal for an internship program and offered to lead it.
When leveraging a new project to get a raise, explain the new responsibilities you’d like to take on and how it will help the company grow and generate more money. Maybe you’ve done some research and realized that your company could increased blog engagement by one third with a more cohesive Pinterest strategy. You also have a hypothesis that increasing blog engagement will lead to more sales. You could share your research and a tentative plan for implementing a new Pinterest project, making sure you articulate WHY the project is valuable and worth a pay raise.
Additionally, think about ways you can help your manager and alleviate some of his or her responsibilities. If they are struggling to complete all their work in a certain area, discuss how you might be able to take some of it off their plate. Just make sure to be delicate so they don't feel that you’re encroaching on their space. Frame your proposal in terms of alleviating their stress, not taking over their work.
Stay Positive and Professional
Remember, before you can convince your boss that you deserve a raise, you need to believe that you’ve earned one (not just that you want one).
Don’t bring up personal things like your rent increasing, needing to plan an expensive birthday party, or a vacation to Maui. Only discuss why you deserve a raise—as evidenced by your professional successes. Get back to the numbers and focus on the value you’re providing for the company.
And stay positive! Don’t get defensive and say that you’ve been there over a year or haven’t gotten a raise in years. Now isn’t the time to start ticking off all the ways you’re underappreciated at work.
The Little Things Matter
Your body language and tone can convey a lot. Make sure they show that you are confident and poised by being direct and assertive and maintaining good posture. A few tips: maintain eye contact, sit up straight, and take up space. Instead of letting your shoulders cave in, squeezing your arms tight to your body, or crossing your arms, keep them relaxed to your sides or on the table. You don’t want to look like you’re starting a turf war, but show that you feel confident in your surroundings.
And your body language doesn’t just affect the way your boss sees you—it can also change the way you feel about yourself. Watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk and do a power pose before your meeting. “Power posing” means arranging your body in a position proven to chemically alter your body and raise confidence. My favorite pose is “The Wonder Woman” pose: Stand with your legs apart, lean forward slightly, and keep your hands on your hips or above your head. Other power poses include sitting and leaning over a table slightly or leaning back in a chair. The key is to take up space.
I’ve done one before every interview or big meeting and it really helps increase my confidence. I always arrive at job interviews a few minutes early. I duck into the bathroom to check my makeup and do a quick power pose. Yes, it may look silly to stand with my arms above my head like I just completed a complicated gymnastics routine at the Olympics, but it works. I leave the bathroom feeling a little more confident and ready to make a good impression at the interview.
Still nervous? That’s normal! Just know that the worst that can happen is that your boss says no—but there’s not much chance you’ll get more money if you don’t ask! (If you’re still experiencing some imposter syndrome, check out our guide on How to Stop Second Guessing Yourself Immediately.)
Oh, and even if you don’t get the raise, you could end up with something. Be prepared to ask for other perks like more vacation time or a new title. Follow these six steps and you’ll be closer to having more money in your bank account at the end of each month.
Elana Lyn is a career advice and lifestyle blog with more than 50,000 views per month that covers everything from how to ask for a raise to the best workout classes to take in NYC. Almost 100 women from a wide range of industries have been interviewed in the Career Profile series. The blog has been featured in TIME, Fast Company, Business Insider, Mashable, Refinery 29, The Huffington Post, Brit + Co., Alley Watch, Ivanka Trump, and more.