You know how great you are, but does your boss? Being recognized for your work and getting fair compensation for the value you offer can do wonders for your mindset and well-being.
If you’re a fan of sports (or The Office), you may recognize hockey player Wayne Gretzky’s iconic quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” And when it comes to getting a raise—no matter how talented you are or how finely honed your communication skills—you can’t get a “yes” unless you ask.
Wondering how to ask for a pay raise confidently? Let’s break down the steps.
Assess what you’re bringing to the table
The first step is knowing your value. You may think, “Hey, I’m delivering more value than I’m being paid for, and the marketplace backs me up on that.” But before you ask for a raise, there are a few things you’ll need in your negotiation toolkit:
- A track record of good work.
- A reputation for team-oriented collaboration, a strong work ethic, and leadership skills.
- Statistics or examples to support your case.
Write down in your own words what your job description is and how you excel in each of your responsibilities. Then, write down all of the ideas you’ve executed that have benefited your employer in some way. Finally, write down the ways in which you’ve acted like an owner, such as building up your team, setting the bar, wowing customers, and any other ways you’ve brought value as an employee.
Keep looking for opportunities to add to your list. Having it in writing will help you focus on what you’re doing well and motivate you to keep up that positive, value-adding behavior.
Do your homework
Once you’ve got your list of accomplishments, ideas, and leadership qualities, another important element you’ll need is market research. What’s the going rate for your job? Start your search on sites like PayScale and Glassdoor. Look into what your industry typically offers for your position, and be sure to consider your location, too. The rate for a job in New York City will likely differ from that of the same job in a smaller city or rural location.
Another thing to consider when asking for a raise is timing. When you ask for a raise can be nearly as important as how you ask. (But be careful of going into “analysis paralysis” over this—the timing may never seem absolutely perfect.)
“Be mindful of what’s going on in the company and of what’s going on with your boss and their particular situation, but don’t give it too much credence,” says Brian Ford, head of financial wellness at Truist. “There will never be a perfect time to ask for a raise. Timing is not as important as simply being deserving of it and showing why.”
As with many things in life, when you’re prepared, you feel more confident. Once you’ve gathered the research on yourself and your industry, you’ll be well on your way to confidently and competently asking for a raise at work.
Think like a boss
If you’re trying to progress in your career, it’s important to put yourself in your boss’s shoes. They will likely be looking out for the company’s best interests, and a raise or promotion would mean spending more money. It’s up to you to make the case for why your raise would make good business sense.
You might show that your actions led to higher revenue, or that the new system you implemented made a process more efficient and saved the company money. Whatever you choose to highlight, you must be good at communicating those skills and achievements. Communicating effectively can help open doors, including opportunities that can help you feel happier with your career.
Tap into your inner salesperson—and practice
When it comes to negotiating salary, over one-third of Americans are anxious about doing so.1 As you prepare to ask for a raise, remember that you’re selling a concept—your value to an organization. If you feel a little uncomfortable about that, that’s OK!
This may sound challenging if you’re not a natural salesperson, but learning to sell yourself is an important skill when it comes to negotiating salary and asking for a raise. Work on showcasing your value to your employer and emphasize how you’ve contributed to the company. Keep the dialogue open and collaborative—asking for a raise should feel like a conversation, not a confrontation. Thinking about it this way can also help calm any nervousness you have.
Good salespeople are good at selling because they do it a lot—it’s their job. You may not be asking for a raise every day (in fact, you probably shouldn’t), but practicing for it or even studying books on sales could help you feel in control when it comes time to pop the raise question.
“Practicing does matter,” Ford says. “You can talk it through with someone you trust to get to a point where you feel like you’re talking to your boss. If it feels natural to practice and everything makes sense, you’re probably ready.”
Don’t be afraid to ask
"The key [to getting a raise] is to be proactive and ask for the pay and positions you deserve, rather than just hoping someone will notice the good job you do,” Ford says.
It’s possible that you’ll get a “no.” But if you’re turned down, you can build on the experience and ask what you can do to get a “yes” next time.
“Even when you’re told ‘no,’ ask what you’re learning,” says Bright Dickson, co-host of “Money and Mindset With Bright and Brian” and an expert on positive psychology. “What are you learning about yourself? What are you learning about your reaction to being told ‘no’? What are you learning about the people you work for?”
When you focus on what you can learn from rejection, you can maintain a positive outlook and stay motivated on your journey toward increasing your income and financial confidence.
Cultivate a healthier money mindset
Earning more money can help you pursue other financial goals and achieve the kind of lifestyle you want. But be careful not to get caught up in making money for money’s sake.
Investing in yourself—putting as much thought, time, effort, and care into managing your career as you do into managing the rest of your financial health—can help you work and live according to your values. Working to create value for others can help you achieve a balance between making and enjoying money, and can increase your overall career and life satisfaction.