5 Ways to Ask for a Raise

While the gender gap in the workplace is shrinking, American women still make just 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Fair pay is an issue that affects both men and women, and is the reason why legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act have surfaced in recent years. A shift in workplace mentality is certainly needed, but sometimes women are their own worst enemies. Many simply do not ask for the salary, benefits or time off that they deserve. Women say that they are worried about looking ungrateful or aggressive, and there have even been studies that added some truth to this perception.

So how do you assert yourself to get the pay you feel you deserve while looking like a team player at the same time? Here are five things to consider when asking for a bump in salary:

1. Do your homework. It’s never wise to come up with a salary amount out of the blue. Research what your position generally pays in your market and see if you are above or below that amount. You should also determine what the average cost of living increase estimate is for your area for a base idea of what minimum raise you should see. Write down the numbers that you find so you can support your request with facts. Visit a site like PayScale to come up with a fair number.

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2. Pick the right time. Do not spring your request on your boss without warning. Ask for a specific meeting time so that your boss is able to focus solely on you. If you have a review coming up, that might be the perfect time to ask for more money.

3. Rehearse your pitch. Write down all of your arguments in favor of a raise and then rank them in order of priority. What are your largest accomplishments since your last pay increase? Lead with the most impressive reasons, and fill in the rest of the conversation with your remaining arguments. It’s also important to have a strong opening and not appear apologetic.

4. Plan a follow-up. When you have finished making your pitch, set up a follow-up meeting to discuss the outcome. One week’s time is a good timeframe, giving your boss adequate time to talk to his or her superiors while ensuring that your request is not put on the back burner. You may also want to write down your request, and reasons, for your boss to reference later on.

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5. Prepare for either outcome. Even a boss who agrees that you deserve a raise may not be able to grant one. This is especially true if you work for a large corporation. Things like hiring and salary freezes are often established at the top and managers cannot override them. It is also possible that your boss will not completely agree that it is time for you to receive a bump in pay. Try your best not to let a negative response hinder your hard work. Businesses want to hire and retain top talent in the workforce, but they also want an employee with a good attitude. Handling a raise denial with grace will speak volumes to your character and could mean a better outcome in the future.

Discussions about pay are tricky, but you should never be afraid to speak up when your livelihood is at stake. Ask for what you feel you deserve with tact and professionalism, and you may just find a higher number on future paychecks.

How have you handled the subject of a raise in the past?

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Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. 

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