Learning To Ask For More

It can be hard to know if it’s time to ask for a raise and, once you establish it is, it’s even harder to do the actual asking. But if you’ve taken on more responsibility and turned out superstar results for the company — or if you’ve discovered your pay is below market average — it’s time to negotiate.

Talking to the boss is often nerve-wracking, and when money enters the conversation, it gets even more difficult. It would be wonderful if all your hard work was duly noted and acknowledged with a nice bump to your paycheck. Unfortunately, that’s just not how business works. People who get paid what they believe they deserve usually asked for what they want.

Asking for a raise doesn’t have to feel like torture. Careful preparation and a healthy dose of confidence will help you successfully negotiate for fair compensation. Make sure you’re ready to dazzle with these smart salary negotiation strategies.

Know Your Value

Understanding your value in the marketplace is the first step to a successful discussion about compensation. Identify what people in similar positions at similar companies are earning. Facts help keep emotions out of it and give you solid ground to stand on.

You also need to lay out your accomplishments and contributions to the company. Tie your results to dollars whenever you can by pointing out how much money you’ve made for the company, or amounts you’ve saved. If you can show that you increased annual revenue by $75,000, it’s easier for higher-ups to see that a raise makes sense.

Write It Down

You don’t want to wing it when it comes to asking for a raise. It may seem like overkill, but writing out your entire case helps you construct a solid argument that you can deliver with confidence. Use your “script” to list specific accomplishments, cite research about salary trends in your field, and eliminate any distracting information.

A bonus side effect of writing out your contributions is extra confidence. When you see everything you’ve brought to the table, it’s very affirming. Study that list and own it. It’s uncomfortable to feel proud of our accomplishments, but it’s okay to recognize your strengths. Noting your successes isn’t bragging; it’s just pointing out the truth.

Keep It Professional

It’s tempting to include information about all the extra hours you’ve put in or recent financial strains you’re experiencing, but those tidbits distract from the real issue. You want a raise because you’ve earned it and your experience, education, and title show you deserve it. Don’t muddy the waters by including personal information that detracts from your professional impact.


Practice is the best way to feel prepared and quiet most of those butterflies. Some amount of nerves can help keep you sharp, but you don’t want to be overwhelmed with anxiety when you’re selling your work as a strong, vital asset worth extra money.

Role-play with a trusted friend or mentor. Find someone who has been in this position themselves, preferably someone who is usually on the other end of the asking, and get their advice. Feedback and encouragement from another professional will go a long way toward improving your confidence and polishing your presentation.

Get Creative

Depending on the financial status of your organization, a raise simply may not be possible. In those cases, it can help to identify another way you can contribute and earn more. If you can help fill in a gap that saves the company the cost of hiring, training, and paying another employee, it might make it worth their while to bump your salary.

Be careful when making this kind of proposal, though. Make sure you are capable of taking on the extra work, and only ask for something you’d actually enjoy doing. This is a great way to add new experience to your resume that will only make you more valuable moving forward.

Stay Positive

Asking for a raise is scary, and it can feel like the world will end if you don’t get the answer you want. But thinking about it as though you have nothing to lose can be helpful. Ultimately, the worst thing that can happen is not getting the raise. But, if you think about it, you already don’t have a raise, so there’s nothing at risk. Minimizing the significance of the outcome will help you keep your nerves in check and your spirits bolstered, regardless of how things turn out.

Even if you don’t get the answer you hoped for, you certainly gained points for asking. By coming in prepared, poised, and confident, you showed your employer that you’re willing to go after what you want. Plus, you planted a seed that may yield fruit sooner than you think.

Keep Your Options Open

If you get turned down, it might be time to start looking at other options. Why weren’t you able to get a raise at this time? Is the company struggling or are they undervaluing your contribution? You don’t have to stay where you are, especially if it feels like more career doors are closed than open.

Everyone wants to get paid what they’re worth, but it’s often up to us to level the playing field. Make a strong impression by doing your homework, identifying your value, and showing up prepared. It might feel intimidating at first, but by employing these simple strategies, you’ll be ready to wow the boss and get the paycheck you deserve.

Sarah Pike

Sarah Pike has her BA in Communication and her MA in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication. She has experience in teaching, PR, marketing, and politics. When she's not teaching or writing, she's probably binge-watching RomComs, volunteering, or planning her next vacation. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram.

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