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How to ask for a raise and other benefits

·5-min read

Asking for a raise can feel nerve-wracking and can put your boss on the spot. However, if you plan properly for a salary discussion with your manager, you may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome and at how smoothly the process can go.

Thanks to the Great Resignation, workers might have the upper hand when it comes to salaries and benefits. Almost three-quarters of the 800-plus recruiters surveyed in Jobvite’s 2021 Recruiter Nation Report saw an increase in landing higher salaries — up more than 20% since 2020. Among the recruiters, 55% report average salaries across their industry have risen in 2021, and 48% report an average salary increase of more than 10%.

Sounds great, right? Well, it’s time to start prepping for your own raise. We asked for tips from HR experts, career coaches, and people in various industries who have successfully landed substantial raises.

Prepare a presentation to show your achievements to your manager. (Getty Images)
Prepare a presentation to show your achievements to your manager. (Getty Images)

KNOW YOUR WORTH

“I advise my clients to use Glassdoor when trying to determine what a salary range target should be,” said Colleen Paulson, a career coach and resume writer in Pittsburgh. “I search both by company and by title to get an understanding of what the particular corporate pay range is and compare that with averages for roles/titles.”

Don’t forget your location.

“I live in Pittsburgh and the payscale here isn't the same as some of the bigger markets like Philadelphia and NYC,” Paulson said. “This isn't a perfect methodology, but it's a start.”

Gian Moore of Mellowpine DIY in Seattle, advised: “Always present evidence as to why you deserve a raise first. Don't start with ‘I want a raise.’ Start with what has changed (e.g., completing college or getting a certificate). Next, explain how this change benefits them (this is the most important!).”

Moore says it’s important to have two numbers in mind when you ask for a raise:

  • The amount you would like — Is it 20% of your current salary? 30%?

  • The lowest amount you would accept without quitting — if that’s your ultimatum.

Research salaries for similar jobs when determining what raise to request. (Getty Images)
Research salaries for similar jobs when determining what raise to request. (Getty Images)

PREP FOR THE ASK

It’s important to get ready for the meeting with your manager, Carlota Zimmerman, a career expert, told Yahoo Money.

“Prepare talking points,” she said. “Why are you asking for a raise now? How much are you asking for? In lieu of more money, would you accept company stock, or more vacation time, or a better title, or the ability to work from home?”

“Also, how are you going to demonstrate that you have earned this raise, that your work is directly responsible, in one way or another, for this company's success? Can you point to projects or big clients? Are you personally building a brand in the industry? Print out the emails, the texts, write out talking points and prepare your pitch before you talk to the boss,” she added.

Eli Doster, the chief talent officer at staffing firm Insight Global echoes Zimmerman’s advice.

“Put together a presentation like you would for a client,” he said. “Do it more as a presentation of your body of work. Your leader will be impressed, and it’s hard to deny a person who has clearly accomplished a lot.”

It helps to know the financial health of your company before askimg for a raise. (Getty Images)
It helps to know the financial health of your company before askimg for a raise. (Getty Images)

DETERMINE WHERE YOUR COMPANY, AND YOUR MANAGERS, STAND

When it comes time to ask for a raise, “always mind your timing,” said Matt Perry, marketing specialist at Buy Moldavite.

“Remember, your boss is human, too. So try to empathize on the best time to approach them about a raise. You don't want to catch them on a bad day or when their stress levels are through the roof,” he said. “Feel it out. Maybe you've been performing well and your boss has been pleased with your work lately, then it might be a good time to ask!”

Also try to get a handle on how your company is doing financially. It’s obviously much easier to get a raise when your firm has just landed a big contract than when they are struggling. Be mindful of what your ask will mean to management.

BE YOUR OWN BEST ADVOCATE

Only you are aware of each success you have in the workplace, and it’s your job to communicate your wins and value to your manager when asking for a raise.

“The first step in learning how to advocate for yourself in the workplace is understanding that you need to look at yourself as your own client,” said Sam Kaufman, a business owner and mentorship coach. “You are your sole representative and nobody at the company you work for is going to have your back like you need to have your back.”

Kaufman also stressed that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Your institutional knowledge, experience, and loyalty should be seen as what it is — an incredibly valuable asset that any company would fight to keep.

“As long as you are good at what you do,” he added, “a company with a solid culture and value system will not be willing to lose you over a few thousand dollars a year.”

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