Some people are fortunate enough to have jobs that allow them to negotiate a salary increase annually without extra effort on their part — the increase in salary might be automatic and might occur each year after the person’s performance review.
The rest of us are stuck with the task of asking for a raise on our own.
Asking your boss to pay you more can be nerve wracking, but it’s something you need to do if you want to move ahead in your career.
Timing is Everything
There’s a right time and a wrong time to ask for a raise.
For example, you don’t want to ask for a salary boost after just a month or two on the job. But, if you’ve been with the same employer in the same position for a year or two, it’s time to negotiate a salary increase, especially if your position has evolved over those two years.
It’s also time to ask for a raise if you have taken on more and greater responsibilities in your position.
The next step is figuring out the best day to ask for a raise.
Earlier in the week is better than on a Thursday or Friday, when everyone wants to go home for the weekend and when paperwork, including the document authorizing your pay increase, can get pushed to the side.
Also, you may find that scheduling a meeting with your boss before lunch is better than waiting until after lunch.
Make the meeting strictly about your raise. It’s not appropriate to bring up a salary increase during a meeting about your clients.
Tell your boss the reason for the meeting in advance, so that he or she has time to think it over and doesn’t feel as though you are ambushing him.
Another important timing consideration is to account for the health of your company. If business is lagging or your company recently announced that it will be laying people off, it won’t’ be the best day to ask for a raise for quite some time.
Take the pulse of your company before you ask for a raise. Learn about its financial condition by checking earnings reports and other financial documents. These should be easy to find if the company is publicly traded.
If the business is losing money, your boss won’t be inclined to bump up your pay.
Ways to Ask
Along with getting the timing right, the way you go about asking for a raise is critical. Any discussion you have about your salary should take place in person. Don’t ask for a raise over email or leave a voice message for your boss requesting a raise.
Do some research into the typical salary for your job before you approach your boss.
If you’ve been in the position for over a year, you want to make more than the typical entry-level salary for the job. You can find average salary information online or by checking with a professional organization.
Highlight the reasons you believe you should receive a raise. Make your reasons legitimate and don’t ever threaten your employer or make snarky comments to him or her.
For example, it’s never a good idea to argue that you do as much work or more than your boss and deserve a better salary. What you can state is that you’ve taken on more assignments or assumed a greater level of responsibility since you started.
Be ready to provide concrete examples to your boss.
Getting the Details Right
Asking for a raise is in many ways about getting the tiny details right. For example, you want to make sure you talk to the proper person about your raise. Make an appointment with your immediate supervisor, not with the CEO of the company.
You also want to be sure not to ask for too much. A good rule of thumb to follow is to ask for a 3 percent increase in your salary, as that is the typical cost-of-living increase.
Any more than that and you risk coming across as overly eager, greedy, or completely clueless.
Remember that nothing in business is personal. If you are having a rough time financially or are struggling to make ends meet, don’t bring that information into the meeting.
Your boss will be willing to pay you more if he thinks you’re a great asset to the company. Your raise will have nothing to do with whether or not you can pay your bills.
Kelly Anderson is a financial planner who blogs about financial advice you can use in your everyday life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.