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How to Ask for a Raise — and Get One

With year-end reviews over and the 2018 work year in full swing, you may be wondering when your next opportunity for a raise or promotion is. The good news? It may be sooner than you think.

Two women who know a lot about getting raises are Rachel Jo Silver — founder of Love Stories TV, a media company building a library of data-enriched wedding videos from around the world — and Ally-Jane Grossan, host of the money and finance education podcast Moneysplained. Ahead, they offer tips for navigating the tricky issue of asking for and, more importantly, getting a raise.

Understand the wage gap
It’s a fact: Women make less money than their male counterparts,” acknowledges Grossan. “Companies pay us less and we’ve been conditioned to accept working for less. As a gender, we need to collectively get over it and start mimicking some of the practices of our male counterparts, starting with having the confidence to ask for a raise.”

Be up-front
“No one likes to receive an email or calendar invite with a cryptic message like, ‘There are some things I’d like to discuss,’” says Silver. Instead, set a meeting and say you’d like to discuss your compensation. And when the time comes to actually ask for a raise, Silver recommends a simple, straightforward message. Here’s one: “I’d like to discuss my compensation — it’s been X long since we’ve discussed it. To refresh, we discussed X the last time, and since then, I’ve achieved X. Based on my performance and the market, I request X.”

Utilize your HR department
If you’re employed at a company large enough to have an HR department, use it. It’s there for a reason. “Always chat with HR before asking for a raise,” advises Silver. “They can help you set expectations and do the prework for you with your manager.”

Set realistic goals
Before you ask for a raise, definitely research what other, similar companies are paying employees in comparable roles. “There’s no hard-and-fast rules, but 2 percent is generally the rate of inflation, so if you’re not getting at least that each year, it’s definitely time to go to HR,” says Grossan. If you’re looking at a performance raise, the range should be about 5 to 10 percent depending on your industry, and if you’re getting promoted — especially if you’ve begun to supervise others — Grossan says a 20 to 30 percent increase is a good starting point.

Know your company’s financial situation
“The no. 1 factor is always how the company is doing overall,” stresses Silver. “If the company is doing well, then it’s easier to reward top performers. If the company has a tight budget, then it becomes more difficult. Remember to be aware of the company situation, not just what you want.”

Ask for other incentives
Unfortunately, a raise isn’t always an option, especially if your company is struggling. If that’s the case, consider other things you could ask for, like equity, a title bump or more vacation time. “Generally you always give someone an annual cost-of-living increase as a baseline and more comp increase based on their performance,” says Silver.

Be strategic about timing
There may be better windows of opportunity to ask for a raise, and one of the best times is when you’re coming off a big success. “There’s the idea that you have to wait for your annual review or to be given more responsibility to get a salary bump, but that’s what keeps a lot of women at lower salaries,” says Grossan. “If you’ve done well and have been at a job for a year or more, it’s probably time to remind your superiors why you are valuable.”

Don’t give up
If you’re denied a raise or promotion, don’t think it’s the end. A company may present you with a response that says it’s not in a position to give out raises because of a slow year, which is a company-wide issue and not a personal one. Or your manager may not think you’re ready for a raise yet, but that’s no reason to get defeated. “Having your request denied is disappointing, but it’s a good opportunity to let your boss know you’re serious,” says Grossan. “Ask what the timeline is for a raise and what else you can be doing to achieve your goal. You’ve already presented a strong case, so your desire to take on more responsibility and be compensated for it is fresh in their minds, and it doesn’t hurt to remind them in six months.”

While approaching higher-ups is never an easy task, hopefully these tips provide some encouragement to ask for the salary you want — and deserve.

This post was sponsored by thinkThin®.

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