Asking for a raise is one thing–getting it is another. In fact, a variety of factors go into whether or not one successfully secures a pay bump. How and when you ask, the type of research you do beforehand, and your follow-up all make a huge difference in whether or not you get a raise.
But employers are stingy when it comes to giving raises outside of regularly scheduled compensation conversations, such as annual reviews. And even then it can be tough to get them to agree to a salary increase. But you shouldn’t let that stop you from putting together a plan to get a raise in 2017.
Follow these tips and action plan to get a raise this year:
1. Make sure you actually deserve a raise.
The most important thing about asking for a raise isn’t how or when to ask, but rather to make sure you are actually deserving of one, says Ben Brooks, CEO of PILOT, a tech startup helping managers retain their best talent.
Ask yourself on what basis do you deserve a raise, and can your manager justify it when they have to defend it to their boss, HR, or finance. Things like “I’ve been working hard,” “costs of living are going up,” or “I’ve been here for two years now” are not legitimate reasons to ask for a raise, says Brooks. Providing clear, results-focused justification for a raise is key. “If you’re managing twice the number of projects as your colleagues, for instance, and doing so with high quality results, that’s a great justification,” says Brooks.
2. Do your research.
Discussing salary makes people uncomfortable. This includes the employee asking for a raise, and the manager or boss responding to the request. Many job seekers are timid and sheepishly ask for less for fear of rejection. But if one has accurate salary info and data for their job, they become confident and sure, and present their case better.
“People often misjudge how their compensation compares with the going market rate,” says Carla Dearing, CEO of SUM180, an online financial wellness service designed to be simple and affordable. According to research cited in the Harvard Business Review, “Perceptions don’t always reflect reality, even if employers are paying the same–or more–than similar companies. In fact, a whopping two thirds of people who are being paid the market rate believe they’re actually underpaid, representing a huge discrepancy.” Reference the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and use online resources to research salary and benefit information in your industry.
3. Consider strategizing with a coach.
Once you have the salary information you need, it’s time to plan for the actual salary discussion. Consider asking a professional salary coach for help. “A good coach is able to assess your situation and recommend specific tactics to use in your negotiation,” says Dearing. For example, the coach might recommend working out a long-term plan with your boss to earn a raise in the future. The more specific the plan, the better. Once you meet the agreed-upon goals, your boss will find it very difficult to refuse you the raise you’ve demonstrated you deserve, adds Dearing.
4. Prepare and practice your “pitch.”
What story are you telling management when asking for a raise? Professionals should be tracking completed projects and their financial impact. And using that information, they should be able to show decision makers how the work completed has helped the company, says Carlota Zimmerman, a career development coach and success strategist.
Did you take initiative on some important projects? Did you save the day? Did you personally, for example, bring in some big clients? “You’re asking for money,” says Zimmerman. “Take the time and write out some talking points explaining what it is you’ve done that you believe qualifies you for a raise. Make it easy for your boss to understand what you want, and why you deserve it. Rehearse these talking points, until you can enunciate with confidence.”
5. Focus on quality and results–not time.
“Do not assume that time at the office means you will get recognized by your boss,” says Dawn Roberts, who, as president of Dawn Roberts Consulting, provides businesses and individual process improvement and consulting services.
“I see people work themselves ragged, thinking that they will for sure get that next promotion or raise, in the process neglecting their families, friends, and health. Time does not matter. Quality and delivery are what matters,” Roberts explains.
You can spend less time and deliver more if you prioritize effectively and are efficient. In fact, studies have shown that when you actually take time off, leave work on time regularly, and spend your spare time in different hobbies or enriching activities (including rest), you actually perform at a higher level and deliver higher quality work when you are at the office, says Roberts. Bottom line: don’t go into a discussion about a raise and focus on how much time you have spent in the office. Focus on quality and results instead.
6. Be ready to negotiate and/or compromise.
This is a negotiation, so your boss may counter with a lower amount or give you the full increase on the condition that you take on additional responsibilities, says the experts at Robert Half Finance and Accounting. Whether you accept this is up to you, but consider the offer and respond with respect. Take 24 to 48 hours to decide, if necessary.
7. Have a backup plan.
If money isn’t an option, what else can you negotiate? After you make a solid argument for a raise, your manger may still say, “We don’t have the money right now.” Don’t be disheartened if this happens–the conversation doesn’t need to end if you have a backup plan, says the team at The Creative Group, a creative services staffing firm.
Consider asking for additional benefits that don’t require a budget, such as a flexible working arrangement, additional vacation days, or professional development opportunities.
8. Be prepared to walk away.
The best way to get a raise in 2017 may be to get a new job with a new company, says Angela Copeland of Copeland Coaching, a career coaching services firm, and author of the ebook Breaking the Rules and Getting the Job.
“Your existing employer will likely give you a 2 to 3 percent raise this year by default,” said Copeland. “If you lobby hard and make a great case, it may go up to 5 to 10 percent. But, when you land a new position at a new organization, your negotiation can start from scratch.”
So do your homework. It’s important know what other companies are paying for the type of work you do.
“When you land a new job, you stand to negotiate your salary up anywhere from 20 percent to 100 percent, depending on the type of leap you’re making,” says Copeland.
Follow these tips above, and if you aren’t able to get a raise, then perhaps you should consider following Copeland’s advice and begin searching for a new job.