How to Ask for a Raise (With Confidence)

There are a lot of things you can’t control. You can’t control your year-to-date returns in Bitcoin (not great). You can’t control the sticky-in-one-direction price of gas (up). You can’t control that one uncle who shows up to your wedding wearing a tuxedo t-shirt (hilarious).

Thankfully, there are at least a couple things you can control.

One is your savings rate. The other is how much you earn.

Well, maybe not exactly how much you earn, but at least how you respond to how much you earn.

If you’re working on your finances and you’ve done all you can to cut back on frivolous spending, maybe it’s time to turn your attention to your salary. Asking for more money from your employer is always in your control. As is the quality of the ask. So, let’s focus on how to improve it.

Use these tips to ask for a raise or negotiate your salary.

Schedule a meeting.

Give your manager a heads up that you’d like to discuss your salary in the near future. This helps them mentally prepare for you asking for a raise (because no one will think you are going to ask for a paycut). Schedule 30 minutes about a week out if possible.

Prepare.

Start preparing early. Like, months in advance early. Humans suffer from recency bias. Managers do, too. (See what I did there?) This means that whatever you’ve done lately will be top of mind.

Be positive in meetings or when arriving for the day. Volunteer to take on a little extra work. Put in a few extra hours on your latest project and deliver a killer result.

It also helps if you are a genuinely good employee interested in helping others, improving the company and working hard. But if you aren’t interested in those things, you’ll need to fake it for awhile.

Gather data.

Don’t go overboard. Make five short slides or a clean one-pager as a visual to lean on. Print it off if you don’t work in a digital environment. It shows forethought and professionalism. This applies if you work at Wendy’s, Target or Goldman Sachs.

Businesses don’t care that you need a new car or have a baby on the way. So does everyone else. Focus on the projects or accounts you’ve managed and the value they bring.

Examples…

  • “I manage $2 million in annual revenue while maintaining high client satisfaction scores.”
  • “My idea last year reduced packaging costs by 10% on our most popular product.”

Think in terms of:

  • “I accomplished X as measured by Y because I did Z.”

Add your strengths & values.

Do you have a unique skill or experience at the company?

Do you have a large network of people that trust you?

Have you helped your coworkers excel or improve in their jobs?

Talk about the value you bring to your role and why you are best person to do it. Align your interests with the interests of the company and your manager. Use specific examples.

Don’t highlight your weaknesses.

But be prepared to discuss how you have been working on them.

Note topics you are interested in that are relevant to the company and how you are learning more about them.

Cite podcasts, books, hobbies, blogs, etc.

Touch on macro factors.

The U.S. is experiencing the highest inflation rate in 40 years. Recruiters are reaching out left and right and there are a record number of open jobs.

Then get 2-3 data points on average salaries for your experience and title. Don’t come off as polyannish by comparing yourself to someone two levels higher with 10 more years of experience than you even if you have similar titles.

Don’t make it an ultimatum.

If a company wants to keep you, they will work with you or make a plan but don’t threaten to quit or get upset if they say no. Remain patient. Try to focus on the positives of your job and the power of compounding your knowledge at one company. There is value in staying put when the conventional wisdom is to job hop every 3 years.

Then, if you truly find no bright sides to look upon, update your resume and hit up your network.

But if money is truly the main issue, you owe it to yourself to at least attempt to fix the situation. You may be surprised at the outcome.

And if you do get a raise, here’s how much you can spend of it without delaying your retirement.

Best of luck!

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