By Laura Woods
In a perfect world, your boss would regularly recognize your obvious talent and immense contributions to the team with hefty raises. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work like that. If you believe the size of your paycheck is no longer sufficient, you’ll probably need to take matters into your own hands and ask for a raise.
Real wages, wages that have been adjusted for inflation, have been stagnant or perhaps even dropping for decades, according to the Pew Research Center. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that real average hourly earnings for all employees increased by only 2.3 percent from April 2014 to April 2015. And from March 2015 to April 2015, average hourly earnings were unchanged.
If you want to make more money, you can’t rely solely on your employer to bump up your pay. You have to muster up the courage to walk up to your boss and request a salary increase.
The thought of approaching your boss and asking for more money might make you cringe. But, you’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice if you hold back and say nothing about the possibility of increasing your paycheck. You also shouldn’t just wait until your performance review to ask for a pay increase.
“Don’t just wait for your annual or midyear review,” said Fatimah Gilliam, founder of The Azara Group, a consulting firm. “A part of advancing in a company and getting raises to match promotions requires being strategic in your approach to your career.”
Throughout the year, you should track your performance and analyze your mistakes and accomplishments. That way, when the time comes for you to ask for a raise, you can expertly justify why you deserve a salary bump.
“I recommend putting an appointment on your calendar every two weeks where you evaluate your performance, note what projects you wrapped up and what your contribution was and think through where you’re headed professionally so you have a long-term vision that you routinely revisit,” said Gilliam.
She added, “Also, if you haven’t been a model employee and have had several bad performance reviews, then you shouldn’t expect to get a raise any time soon. Rather, your plan needs to focus on turning around your performance so you aren’t fired or laid off.”
Before you ask for a raise, it’s also crucial that you make sure the timing is right for your company. Asking for a pay increase while you’re company is struggling financially might result “in your being perceived as lacking good judgment and not being a team player,” said Gilliam.
And lastly, don’t take it too personally or be surprised if your boss denies your salary request because of budget restrictions. If your company can’t afford to pay you more money, there’s very little you can do. This might be a sign that you should start looking for employment opportunities elsewhere.
Doing your research and working up the nerve to ask for a raise is one thing, but what do you say once you’re in your boss’ office? How can you convince your boss to actually bump up your pay? Using these salary negotiating tips can help you state your case:
DISPLAY A SENSE OF GRATITUDE
“While it is a negotiation, treat it like it’s a conversation,” said Jonathan Flickinger, human resources manager at Swanson Industries, an industrial products manufacturer. “You and your boss are attempting to come to an agreement that’s mutually beneficial for you and the company. At the end of the day, you both should walk away feeling valued.”
PRESENT HARD FACTS AND QUANTIFIABLE RESULTS
Remember Gilliam’s advice about tracking your performance throughout the year? During the meeting with your boss, you need to bring up your successes.
“Quickly, the conversation you’re having becomes purely objective, not filled with personal feelings, emotion or drama,” said Flickinger. “Focus on achievements and accomplishments. It’s about results that you have delivered.”
It’s also wise to use sites like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics prior to the meeting to gather information on industry average salaries for professionals working in your field.
PREPARE A WELL-PLANNED PRESENTATION
Maybe your boss appreciates PowerPoint presentations, or maybe a written plan in preferred. No matter how you plan to present it, you need to make sure your request for a raise is convincing and well-researched.
“There are differing opinions as to how to ask for a raise or more benefits,” said Flickinger. “Some say ask for the monetary value first, and then present your case. Others say to share your results, and then ask for the raise. Either way, you need to prepare and contemplate the ‘what if’ scenarios before you even begin the conversation.”
DON’T OVERSELL IT
At no point during the conversation should you start begging. You also shouldn’t keep repeating yourself over and over again after you already made your points.
“If you’ve presented hard facts and quantifiable results, be confident,” Flickinger said. “Be concise, yet complete. Once you’ve presented your case and asked for the raise or more benefits, be quiet. Let the other side respond.”
COMPROMISE WITH BONUSES
A company that is experiencing financial difficulties simply might not be able to afford pay increases, but perhaps you can convince your employer to give you bonuses if you help the company increase its revenue.
“The recommendation for someone asking for an increase in money is to show how they can help drive revenue,” said Jason Zickerman, president and CEO of The Alternative Board. “Instead of an increase in base pay, they may want to ask for bonuses when certain cash events occur within the organization.”
“A request like this has a far greater chance of being received by the ownership, CEO, etc.,” he continued. “It is my experience that very few CEOs or business owners resent having their team make money when the company’s making money.”
Asking for a pay increase can be nerve-wracking, but don’t let the pressure be a deterrent. You work hard for your company and deserve to be fairly compensated for your efforts. If you’re tired of living paycheck to paycheck, take the necessary steps and ask your boss for a raise.
Laura Woods writes for GOBankingRates.com a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt.