Asking for a raise can be really stressful, and many people avoid the conversation simply because they are afraid of upsetting their boss or having the awkward conversation. But the fact of the matter is, it is crucial to bring it up and advocate for yourself, especially if your company doesn’t have an annual review process in which cost of living raises are usually offered. Asking for a raise in your current company and role can also be crucial in terms of earning more money down the line when you switch companies or look for new roles. To take at least some of the stress out of the conversation, here are our top tips for how to prepare for and ask for a raise. 

Do your research 

It’s important to spend some time gathering information about how much people in your job in your geographical area usually make. You want to see not only where your current salary falls in that range, but you can use it as a reasonable goal for where you’d like to end up. Start by looking up average salaries by years of experience and industry on Glassdoor or Angelist. Then, maybe ask around to friends and family who work in similar industries if you happen to know anyone. Remember that not all companies have the ability to pay the same and that many factors go into determining salaries like the size of your company, your location, your experience, and responsibilities.

You also want to do some research about how and when your company handles salary increases. Do they have an annual review process that comes with a discussion of salary? Does that line up with the fiscal year or each individual start date? It’s important to understand how the money flows in your company so that you can time the conversation correctly. 

Choose the right time 

Speaking of timing, it is crucial that you are smart about when you are choosing to have this conversation. Generally speaking, you don’t want to ask for a raise if you’ve been at the company for less than a year, or you had a salary increase within the past year. Exceptions to this rule would be if the scope of your job has changed drastically since that last increase. If you know that you have an annual review coming up, that is the perfect time to bring up a raise request, and most employers will expect to have this conversation at that time. 

If your company doesn’t have a structured annual review process, then timing the conversation after a big win is another good tactic. Did you just bring in a ton of new business? Solved a long-term organizational problem? Anytime you’ve contributed something massive to the company and made your value known is the perfect time to discuss your future with the company. You also want to make sure to avoid hectic times of the year for your boss or at the end of the fiscal year when money is tight. 

Be prepared to toot your own horn 

During this conversation, you want to focus on the value that you have brought to the company and why you deserve a raise based on the work that you’ve been doing. It can be a great idea to write out some of the things that you’ve accomplished over the past year, and how this added to the success of the company overall. You don’t want to focus on why you need a raise, because that’s not your employer’s problem. It is a much better tactic to emphasize the hard work and dedication you’ve shown to the company. It is also very appropriate to outline the ways in which you’ve stepped outside of your role to help the team succeed and use that as a justification for a higher salary. This can also be a good time to ask for additional responsibility if you’d like to take your career to the next level, in which case a raise would be very logical. 

Keep the conversation simple and direct 

While you want to be prepared, you don’t need to go in with a full PowerPoint presentation on your value to the company. To open the discussion, you can start with something simple such as: 

I was hoping that we could discuss my salary. It has been a year since my last raise, and I feel that my work on X and Y has demonstrated my dedication and hard work. I would also be interested in taking on some additional responsibilities over the next year to grow my role in the company. Could we take a look at increasing my salary to reflect this?  

You want to be specific about your accomplishments, but you don’t need to bombard your manager with a million reasons right off the bat. Just get the conversation started and see where it goes from there. But be prepared to go into further detail if requested. You also don’t need to come out with a dollar amount that you’re looking for right off the bat, as they will most likely negotiate, but it is good to have a number in mind as they will probably ask. 

Don’t worry if the answer isn’t yes 

Most likely your manager won’t agree to a raise right off the bat, as they will have to run the request up the chain of command. Your goal is to get the conversation started and let management know that you’re dedicated to the company and looking to move forward with them in a way that is beneficial to everyone. If your manager does come right out and say that a raise isn’t going to possible at this time, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for additional feedback about why. Maybe it’s because of internal things, and no one is getting raises, or maybe there are concerns about your performance that haven’t been communicated to you. It’s important to be receptive to any feedback that comes out of this conversation and it can be a good idea to ask what you might need to do to qualify for a raise in the future. 

While asking for a raise is something many people dread doing, it is 100% normal and required in order to further your career. Salary increases aren’t only necessary to keep up with the cost of living, but can improve job satisfaction and help to keep you at the right level for the current market. An internal raise also shows future companies that you were valued and did good work, which can be instrumental in continuing on a path of upward mobility. We’ve all got to be better at asking for what we deserve.