How to ask for a raise

For starters, never ask during an annual review

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From the December 2015 issue of the magazine.

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For many of us, asking for a raise ranks up there with getting a cavity filled—necessary, but never fun. No wonder a recent PayScale survey revealed that nearly 30% of employees feel downright uncomfortable requesting a bump in pay. Here’s how to ask for more cash with confidence.

1. Time it right

Thinking of asking for a raise during your annual review? Big mistake. Your boss has already received the budget and determined how to divvy up the funds. Instead, ask to talk a few months earlier when there’s still time to make your case for a larger share.

2. Keep a diary

A great way to convince your boss you’re worth more is to present a record of your career wins over the past year. Include kudos from superiors examples of ways you saved the company money or landed the big clients. Consider it ammunition when you ask for what you deserve.

3. Think forward

Examples of your success aren’t always enough to sway a manager to cough up cash. Remember, raises are meant to encourage future accomplishments, not reward past behaviour. So talk about specific ways you plan to make a difference in the coming year.

4. Know what to ask for

Depending on your performance and company profitability, you should expect a 1% to 3% raise. Ask for 10% and you’ll seem out-of-touch. But if you feel shortchanged, do a bit of digging then say, “This is what people in my position usually earn. How can my pay reflect the industry standard?”

5. Don’t throw co-workers under the bus

Sure, Robert in the next cubicle is making $5,000 more. Maybe he has more education or takes on more work—or maybe he’s a slacker. Either way, name-dropping during negotiations is bad form. You’ll seem petty. And if word gets out, you could become a water cooler pariah.

6. If the answer is no

Keep your cool and ask what it would take to win a pay hike in six months. If that doesn’t work, there’s another option: leave. Studies show that people who strategically job hop every two years can make at least 50% more money over the course of their careers.

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