It can be intimidating to ask for a raise. And it can be more difficult to do when jobs are scarce and unemployment is high. But put yourself in your boss’s shoes for a minute. She knows that her company’s real assets are her people. That’s because people generate profits. Revenue doesn’t happen on its own. If you are (or can become) a crucial part of your company’s success, you’ll be irreplaceable and a major contributor to the company’s bottom line. That is what you can use to get your raise.
1. The Setup
You can only ask for a raise if you provide value. Your boss doesn’t care if you need to make more money. Your boss only cares how valuable you are to the company. That’s no problem. If you want a raise, just demonstrate excellence and make sure it’s recognized. The best way to accomplish that is to find out what your firm needs and then provide it.
Your first assignment is to take your boss out for coffee. Ask her how she defines success. Ask her how you can improve and what it would mean to the company if you did. Find out what problems the company or your department faces and become a high-value solution. When you meet with your boss and she tells what she really needs to see happen, make sure to ask the following:
a. What would it mean to the company if this problem were solved?
b. How much money and time would be saved?
c. How would this help the company in the future?
d. How else would this help?
Do you see where I’m going? Make sure that the boss spells out in no uncertain terms exactly how much these solutions are worth to the company.
2. The Buildup
You now know what your boss wants – now go out and make it happen. If you need additional resources to accomplish your goal, so much the better. Go back to your boss with a plan, including a request for the resources you need. Your boss will be super impressed with your initiative. Once you have your plan and the resources you need, go out and make it happen. Make sure to keep your boss in the loop as you progress towards the goal.
3. The Score
Once you have accomplished your goal or have advanced significantly towards it, have another sit-down with your employer. Highlight what you’ve accomplished and ask if you are on track. Remind her of the all the benefits of what you’ve done and get her acknowledgement.
Now is the time to ask your boss to consider a promotion and/or salary increase. Suggest that since you’ve been able to really step up and help make the company more successful, you’d like her to mull over the idea of giving you a salary increase commensurate with your abilities.
If you don’t get a positive response, you’ll obviously be disappointed. But try not to say something you’ll regret later. Don’t issue ultimatums. Just ask what you need to do in order to get your raise. Then arrange a time in the future when you can revisit this issue in the future.
If it becomes clear that there is basically nothing you can do to get a salary increase you still win. If you did what I outlined above, you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty at work. You’ve demonstrated your skills and initiative. Use those same qualities to land another job or start a business on your own.
The bottom line is in order to get, you have to give first. If you want a raise, find out what your company or department needs and then provide it. Demonstrate excellence, and then ask for your raise. If you have a smart employer, she’ll recognize that you are simply too valuable to lose and she’ll give you the raise. If she’s not clever enough to see your value, dust off your resume and look for an employer who gets it. It also might be time to change your career. Either way, you win because you have better experience and knowledge.
How have you asked for a raise? Did it work? What would you do differently?