How to Ask for a Raise

If you know how to ask for a raise — and how much of a raise to ask for — you can potentially boost your income to make the salary you deserve. The following five key steps can help you understand exactly what to do to prepare for this critical workplace conversation.

Step 1: Determine How Much of a Raise to Ask For

Feel ready to ask your boss for a raise? That isn’t enough to ensure that you present a solid case for why you should earn more. As a first step, you need to arm yourself with solid salary data about your industry, position, location and experience level to help justify why your company should be paying you more than what you’re currently receiving. Begin your process by digging into market data on average salaries for professionals with your job title who live in your part of the country. You will use this information as evidence of why it makes sense for you to receive the specific raise that you’re requesting.

Step 2: Compile Evidence of Your Performance

Figuring out what the average pay rate is for workers in your field who do the same job is an essential starting point, but you may be able to command above the market average if you’re a standout employee with impressive or unique accomplishments and attributes. Your goal when discussing a salary bump with your boss should be to reveal exactly why the skills and talents that you bring to the table are worth more than what the average person in your field earns. The best way to prove that is to gather quantitative evidence about your performance to date, showcasing any tangible results that increase your value to employers. For example, if you’re a manager whose department experienced a productivity increase of 30% under your watch, then be sure to make that point.

[READ: 10 Types of Annoying Co-Workers and How to Deal With Them.]

Step 3: Determine the Best Time to Ask

Timing can make or break your request for a salary adjustment, so be sure to factor this in when asking for a raise. Part of being able to distinguish between optimal and poor timing in an organization involves understanding what’s happening on a larger scale in your department and company. Clearly, if the management team has just announced cutbacks or layoffs, then it’s not the right time to broach the topic of a raise. Similarly, if your department’s budget has just been set for the quarter or year, then your supervisor may not have as much leeway to offer you a raise as she would if you timed your request before budget finalization. Also, if you know that raises are only awarded during annual performance reviews, then consider scheduling “the talk” with your boss a few months prior. During this preliminary chat, you can outline together any performance benchmarks that must be met before your next review in order to receive a raise.

[SEE: 11 Qualities of Bad Managers.]

Step 4: Prep Notes and Practice Key Talking Points

Once you’ve done your due diligence in determining what you’re worth and why, and you’ve identified the right time to have the salary conversation, then it’s time to solidify the points you want to make and practice what you will say. You don’t want to go into this crucial discussion flying blind. To avoid this, it’s smart to write down the salary data based on your research, as well as any details about your performance that will help showcase your value to the organization. Then, take these talking points and practice what you will say with a trusted friend or family member until you feel confident and your key messages are well polished.

[SEE: 10 Reasons to Quit Your Job Already.]

Step 5: Set Up a Time to Talk With Your Manager

Your preparations are completed, and you know exactly what you want to say when you ask for a raise. All that’s left to do now is confidently present your case to your boss. Since you’ve taken the steps above to get ready to clearly explain why a raise is warranted, you can leave nervousness at the door and focus on your ask. Once you’ve done so, don’t worry if you don’t get an immediate answer. Your boss may need to discuss the request with human resources to determine whether the additional budget can be approved. Also be prepared to negotiate; your manager may offer you less than you requested but more than you’re making now — or may even deny the request. It’s then up to you to decide what to do next: Take the money that you’re offered, see if you can negotiate to a number in the middle or think about whether another employer might value your skills more.

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How to Ask for a Raise originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 02/22/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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