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How To Ask For A Raise — When You Actually Deserve One

Asking your boss or your direct supervisor for a raise can be awkward, stressful, and uncomfortable. Why? Because talking about money is one of the least fun things to do here on planet Earth. But guess what? In the professional world, it’s almost always worth it. Even if you don’t get the raise you’re after, by proactively seeking higher payment, you can establish yourself as a professional who knows their worth and isn’t afraid to go after what they want.

If you honestly believe that you deserve a higher salary, you should ask for a raise as soon as possible. The truth is, if you don’t ask for more money, you might never get it. Why? Because it’s not exactly in the interest of an organization to dole out salary increases constantly, even when they’re well-deserved.

Simply put, you can’t rely on upper management to give you regular salary increases commensurate with your contribution to the company. You also can’t assume that your superiors are aware of all the ways in which you’re adding value to the operation. If you want to advance your career (and get paid more while you’re at it!), you absolutely must be your own best advocate.

Below is a 10-step guide that explains exactly how to ask for a raise when you honestly feel as if you deserve one.

1. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re worth it. Because you are.

This might sound silly, but if you want to be taken seriously when you ask for a raise, you need to believe it yourself. You need to believe in the case you present to your boss. So look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re worth it. Tell yourself that you deserve it, and list all the reasons why.

2. Make a list of your accomplishments.

Of course, when you sit down with your boss to present your case for a higher annual salary, you’ll need a lot more than bravado. So before you request a meeting with the Big Cheese, arm yourself with a list of all your previous accomplishments. Each and every single professional success to date is a piece of evidentiary support—a nugget you can use in making the argument that it’s time you were paid a higher salary.

3. Draft a list of your future goals, too.

As wonderful as all of your previous accomplishments are, it’s important that your boss develops a sense of your future goals too. You need to position yourself as someone who intends to continue adding value to the operation—not just someone who has already made strides in their existing position. So make some projections for your career path. Outline exactly how you plan to further your goals in the next 12 to 24 months. The more specific you can be, the better. And wherever possible, quantify your objectives. This will impress your boss, and indicate that you’re thinking ahead—not just in terms of your salary, but your role in the growth of the company overall.

4. Gather intelligence by talking to professional contacts.

The most important data you can gather before asking for a raise is information about what your peers are earning within the industry in which you work. Yes, it can be awkward to ask someone how much they’re paid, but there are ways around this. If you’re uncomfortable asking someone outright what they earn (doing so after a few drinks tends to make things somewhat less awkward), you can casually ask someone to state the range their current salary falls within. Or you can ask a professional contact a question like: “How much would you expect to be paid if you left your current position for another job today?” It’s important to know what your competitors are making so you can assess your market value and thus make a reasonable request for a salary increase. The risk of not grasping your true market value is that you’ll undervalue yourself, or, on the flip side, that you’ll overvalue yourself and enter into negotiations with outsized expectations that will strike your manager as off-putting. The more information you can gather, the more well-informed you’ll be.

5. Do some research online, too.

Although it’s ideal to gather information straight from the source by speaking to people directly, there’s a lot of information regarding salaries to be gathered online these days. Through websites like Glass Door, you can get a sense as to what other companies within the field you work are paying their employees. You can also scour websites like LinkedIn and Monster for open positions in your industry that might include details about salary expectations. You’re on an intelligence gathering mission, remember, because the more information you have, the better off you’ll be while negotiating the terms of your employment.

6. Request a meeting with your boss.

It might sound obvious, but asking for a meeting with your boss is an essential step in the process of asking for a raise. You don’t want to ambush your boss with a salary increase request in the middle of a meeting about something else. Why? They’ll resent you immediately for catching them off guard. What you want to do is request to sit down with your boss and simultaneously hint at what you’d like to discuss. If you’re not comfortable being direct (e.g. “I’d like to sit down and discuss my current responsibilities and salary expectations.”), you can always politely employ a euphemism (e.g. “I’d like to discuss my future at the company” or “I’d like to talk about how I can grow within the company.”). Trust me, your boss will get the hint. And if they’re a reasonable human being, they will welcome the opportunity to touch base with one of their employees and also appreciate the heads up that you’re itching for a raise so they can prepare appropriately to discuss the issue at hand.

7. Look the part for your meeting.

Your outward appearance for your pay-me-more-money-please meeting with your boss matters. A lot. Mostly because the vibe you exhibit on the outside can very well impact how you feel on the inside. And you need to feel calm, collected, and worthy, comfortable yet confident, as you present your pay-me-more-money-please case. Choose an outfit you’ve worn at least once or twice before so you know it does the trick of making you feel at ease and good about yourself overall. Air on the side of fancier than casual, even if you’re a millenial who works for a super chill company with zero dress policy. At the very least, wear clean clothes that make you feel good about yourself professionally.

8. Do some pre-meeting power poses.

Power posing will help you get hyped in advance of your meeting. Right before your scheduled sit-down, head to the bathroom. Tuck yourself inside the safety of a bathroom stall and jump around a little like a boxer might before a big fight. Punch the air. Or raise your arms up like you just scored the winning goal in the World Cup finals. Just don’t work up a sweat. You want to smell clean and fresh for your big meeting, after all.

9. Remain body language confident throughout your meeting.

Greet your boss with a firm handshake and a confident “hello” while looking him or her straight in the eyes. This will send the message that you—and your forthcoming request—are to be taken seriously. Especially if you have a tendency to trip over your words or demonstrate nervousness verbally, remaining poised physically will help you exude self-confidence.

As you speak about your current responsibilities and your future objectives, keep you body language in mind. Sit up straight, don’t cross your arms (which sends a negative message), and make eye contact as often as possible. Body language matters. You want to send physical signals that you’re capable to accompany all of the evidence you’re outlining verbally. You don’t want to intimidate your boss, but you do want him or her to respect you and consider you an equal, or at least someone with the potential to be their professional equal.

10. Lean the fuck in.

You want to be polite, of course, but you don’t want to get carried away with pleasantries before diving right into the important stuff. Arrive prepared to lead the conversation—to make your case and state your salary expectations based on all of the supporting evidence you’ve collected as coherently and concisely as possible. This is your chance to lean the fuck in, so go for it! Then give your boss the chance to respond. Chances are, he or she won’t be able to grant you a salary increase right there at that very moment (they’ll likely thank you and provide a positive nugget for you to hold onto as they prepare their formal response), so don’t hesitate to suggest a follow-up conversation. Give them some time (but not TOO much time) to ruminate. If you really do deserve that raise and the company is in a position to provide it, they will.

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