New Year’s resolutions are usually something along the lines of hit the gym more often, remember to floss and brush up on your high-school Spanish. But why not go into the new year with a more ambitious goal? If you think it’s about time you saw a boost in your paycheck, make this the year you ask for a raise.
Before you march into your manager’s office, it’s important to be prepared. Here are the do’s and don’ts of asking for a raise so that you can help ensure you’re paid what you’re worth.
DO: RUN THE NUMBERS
You deserve a raise for your hard work. Chances are your boss knows it, too. But because asking for a raise is essentially you making that pitch, you’ll need to present the necessary evidence to support it.
Identify your key performance indicators and how you contributed to those numbers. In some instances, it might be obvious — for example, if you’re a salesperson, it’s easy to show how you’ve met or surpassed sales goals. But other roles can be more difficult to quantify; even so, look for a way to measure your success.
Maybe you implemented a new task management software that saved your team hours of administrative work each week. Or perhaps you helped slash budgets, generated good PR for the company or worked on creative that garnered a lot of impressions on social media. Take the time to list your accomplishments and illustrate how they were effective. Doing this kind of prep before you meet with your manager will help you go in calm, cool and collected.
DON’T: BASE YOUR REQUEST ON A COWORKER’S SALARY
When you find out a coworker is making a higher salary than you are, it can feel unfair. But truth is, you don’t know if they are making more because of their experience, skills or simply because they negotiated a better salary when they got their initial offer.
Either way, don’t use that information as the basis for why you’re asking for the raise. Make the conversation all about you, using the prep work you’ve done and evidence of what competitive pay is for your role. If you don’t get your desired results, bring up tactfully that you’re aware of a pay discrepancy with people who have a similar job as you — and ask what you can do to help ensure a future pay raise.
If you’re offered a promotion that comes with more responsibility but not higher pay, be prepared to push back.
DO: TIME YOUR REQUEST RIGHT
Figure out when raises and promotions are typically awarded in your company and make sure to have the discussion with your manager before any budgets are finalized. The timing of that can vary by employer. In some companies, your annual review may be the optimal time, if that happens before compensation decisions are made. In others, salaries have already been decided by your review time, so it may be too late.
DON’T: BLINDSIDE YOUR BOSS
There is no benefit to catching your boss off guard. Let your manager know you’re interested in discussing your performance and future with the company before the meeting happens so that she can prepare. And if your manager says she must consult with higher-ups or wait for budget approvals, then set up a follow-up time right away so both of you know when to pick up the conversation again.
DO: ANTICIPATE YOU MAY NEED A PROMOTION TO GET A RAISE
In many cases, the best way to justify a pay raise (particularly a significant one) is to seek a promotion, so make sure that’s what you really want. Promotion-based raises are typically much higher than performance-based raises — plus, some companies may have strict salary bands by position, so moving to the next higher-paying role may be the only way to get the bump you’re looking for.
DON’T: ACCEPT A PROMOTION WITHOUT A RAISE
If you’re offered a promotion that comes with more responsibility but not higher pay, be prepared to push back. You may think of that new title as an investment that will pay off at your next job, but the company is actually shortchanging you. Even worse, you're setting into motion a pattern of not earning what you deserve. Hold firm that you cannot accept a promotion without a commensurate raise in pay. If you feel you must accept the promotion, try to negotiate for some perks, such as more vacation time or upgraded benefits. Then update your resume and start applying for new jobs.