Even when you have all the right reasons and know you deserve a raise, walking in and asking your boss for more money is a delicate process. You don’t want to come off as arrogant, rude, or demanding — but you do want to show your confidence.
The best advice you can get is usually from those who came before you, from women who have walked this path before. The Daily Muse shared the stories of four women who asked for raises — and got them.
In reading their stories, here’s a few of the main points I learned about asking for a raise:
1. Do Your Research: All of these women sought advice from mentors, trusted friends, legal professionals, or other coworkers about their dilemma. They asked how others approached their bosses for raises and what they were being paid when they were at her level. The women also gathered data about industry standards. Rosemary, a reporter, went on Salary.com to find out what other reporters with equal skill and experience were making. She used all of the information she gathered from sites like these and from her colleagues to ask for a raise.
2. Figure Out How You Can Help: The story from Amy, a pediatrician, is particularly helpful — she figured out how she could help alleviate her boss’ work load if she took on a bigger role. Amy looked at what responsibilities her boss was managing, and assessed what she needed to learn in order to help with those tasks:
I told him I was interested in learning more about how the business functions and how I could help, and asked how I could move up in the ranks. Not only was he appreciative that I noticed his work, but he told me I was the only one who had ever asked him how to transition to the business side of things.”
Amy gradually took on more responsibilities and worked out her pay raises for the next five years. Amy’s best strategy was to find where she was most needed, and to simply ask how she could get there. She was both proactive and respectful.
3. Ask For at Least a 20% Raise: Two of the four women walked in and asked specifically for 20% more. Eva, the vice president for a non-profit, settled on this number:
I want to make sure I ask for much more than I actually want, recognizing that their second offer will be lower than my request. I also provide a reason for asking for an increase (the cost of living in the city, the level of responsibility required, the average market salary) but don’t go into details.”
You don’t want to sell yourself short but you also don’t want to scare off your boss with a large number. Even if you’re given under 20%, the raise will be closer to what you want.
4. Negotiate More Than Salary: If your company can’t afford to give the raise you’re looking for, Eva also suggested asking for other perks. You can ask for more vacation time or ask for them to pay for a few classes or conferences each year. These benefits can also be valuable, and are probably easier for a company to give.
If you’re still a little nervous, remember that it never hurts to ask. Even if your boss says no, you’ve shown that you aren’t afraid to ask. Your boss will keep this in mind when it comes time to renegotiate your contract or when funds do become available.
For motivation, read the stories of these four women on The Daily Muse.