How do you ask for a raise? Let’s say you believe you deserve a raise. You’re feeling confident. 

The report you spent months researching and finessing is finally complete and has been well received across the organization. 

You’re pretty sure your findings will positively impact the organization. 

You’re a hard worker and a committed, engaged employee who consistently over-delivers. 

So why are you having so much trouble asking for a salary raise? 

Smiling man standing on a forklift.
Smiling man standing on a forklift.

think you deserve a salary raise? 

Automatic yearly raises at work are a thing of the past in many organizations. Now it’s a good idea to ask for what you want. 

It’s a good time to broach the subject. It’s becoming difficult for companies to find talent, which has led to stagnant salaries beginning to move upward—glacially, perhaps, but in the right direction. 

Competition within growing industries is helping to identify employees with particular skills and increasing their demand. 

Some industries on the rise include: finance, technology, and health sciences (particularly specialties in geriatrics.) 

If you’re currently working in one of those industries, schedule a meeting to discuss a pay raise. 

how to ask for a raise

When you negotiate salary, it’s important what you ask for. Before having a conversation with your manager, be sensitive to when your company usually increases salaries. 

Is it at the end of the fiscal year? Tied to your performance review? 

You may be entitled to a salary raise, but your manager’s hands are tied if your raise must be included in next year's operating budget.

Forbes says that asking for a pay increase at your review is probably too late. 

Instead, make your case for a raise a few months before your performance review—and ahead of your co-workers—to include it in your department budget.

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when asking for a raise at work, you should...

The other important consideration is how you have a conversation with your manager. 

Remember these things when asking for a raise, and you’re more likely to get it!

1. know your audience

You know how your manager or boss operates and how he or she likes to be approached when making a request for a raise. Respect that.

Now’s not the time to set teeth on edge or be overly aggressive. 

During the conversation with your manager, be straightforward and use simple language and short phrases.

Most of us are nervous during salary negotiations and talk too much because it makes us anxious. Just remember to slow down, keep your message time, and do your salary research.

2. prepare a case for why you deserve a pay raise

Keep an ongoing log of your work projects, new tasks, additional responsibilities, new skills you’ve gained, and comments and praise you’ve garnered. 

This readily available information will help you prepare for your request for a raise ahead of time. It’ll also make updating your resume faster and more accurate.

Broach the subject by citing examples of additional responsibilities you’ve taken on through the year and how your efforts have brought real value to a project and the team. 

Talk about your years of experience and accomplishments that contribute to the organization's success. 

Refer to new skills you’ve gained and how you’ve applied them to your role.

3. know what your skills are worth

Manage your expectations for how much of a raise you think you deserve by doing some salary research. 

Find out if your company raise is annual and the average increase or average salary for your position. 

If your company doesn’t have an annual salary increase, research salaries in your industry and the role within it. Consider your skill set and years of experience. 

If possible, talk to people in your industry who do the same kind of work as you. 

Not sure what the average salary is in your role in your location? Randstad’s salary guides are great for salary research and are a resource to give you a ballpark figure to work with.

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And stay up-to-date on the latest salary trends!

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4. be flexible and willing to negotiate your salary

While it’s important to go into the conversation with your manager with a figure or range in mind. 

Putting the ball in your manager’s court might be advisable as their offer may be higher than what you have in mind. 

If that’s not the case, tell your boss what pay raise you’re looking for and be willing to meet somewhere in the middle.

5. consider all the factors of requesting a raise

Sure, you may deserve a pay raise, but it may not necessarily be in the cards in your current role if other factors are at play. 

Consider the size of your organization, its location, and other extenuating circumstances. 

You’re more likely to be granted a request for a raise in a city like Toronto or Vancouver than in a smaller, more rural setting because employers are conscious of the cost of living requirements if they influence them themselves. 

6. remember not all compensation is financial

If your boss is unwilling or unable to negotiate your salary, consider other methods of compensation. Could you work from home one day a week? 

Will they pay for training to help you reach the next level? Could they improve your benefits package? Give you an extra week of vacation each year? 

A little creativity goes a long way to making a highly-performing employee feel valuable. 

Think about what would make a meaningful difference.

when salary negotiation fail

If, after everything, salary negotiations have failed or stagnated, don’t threaten to quit, even if it’s on the tip of your tongue. 

This isn’t the time to do so, and that’s not a position you want to find yourself in without careful thought and ample consideration of your options. 

Instead, ask what you can do to ensure you’re in a position for a salary raise in the future. 

That’s something your manager can and should be able to tell you. 

You’ll come across as responsible and mature. You’re also letting your boss know subtly that the conversation isn’t over.

These suggestions will help with asking for a raise and how to broach the subject with your manager.

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