How to Ask for a Raise
Was there ever a more awkward conversation? Very few of us feel confident enough to ask for either a raise or a promotion - telling ourselves that if we were worthy of one, it would just happen. This isn't the case in most companies, where having you work at full capacity at your current rate is more cost efficient than rewarding you for it. Not great, but a harsh reality of the working world, which means it's up to us to set our own parameters for what we're worth - then asking for it. Gulp.
Make Your Vision Clear
From the offset, you should be having one to ones with your manager where you discuss your progress. Add a vision for your future and your role into the mix, making it clear where you want to be in one, two, and five years time. An important part of your manager's job is to shape you into the person you want to become, so setting out a plan with them to reach your goals and going over your progress on a regular basis together will help you feel confident when the time comes to move on up.
Prove You Can Handle It
A level-up isn't just a new title or a new salary, but proof that you can handle everything that comes with the label. Whether it's managing more people, reporting to higher ups effectively, and having a vision for the business as a whole - asking to take on more responsibility can be a great way to prove that you're ready. With this in mind, make sure you're not taken advantage of, and that taking on more work clearly aligns with a promotion after a certain period of time.
Keep Track of Your Wins
It can be easy to sweep our wins under the rug and feel embarrassed to shout about them. Whilst you shouldn't make others feel bad about their own progress, you also shouldn't dim your own light. When you catch up with your manager, make a list of all the things that have gone well, discuss them objectively (this makes it easier to feel less braggy), and how they benefit the business. Making a case for a raise or promotion becomes water-tight when you can show that the proof is in the pudding.
Deserving vs Needing
Employees can fall into the trap of asking for a raise on the grounds that they can't keep up with their living costs. Whilst this is a solid reason on a human level, workplaces are a strange place, and toeing the line between cost-efficiency and empathy can be difficult. Rather than telling your boss you need help with the rent, show them you deserve a raise because of X, Y, and Z.
With so many resources now available to take a sneak peek into other workplaces, including salary, responsibility, and hierarchies, you can create a business case for your own raise or promotion by citing market rates. Coming prepared shows initiative, and also makes you feel more confident in asking to be paid what you deserve, as it shows your reasoning isn't merely subjective.
Practice & Prepare
Don't just wing it when you ask. Have your ducks in a row, know what you're going to say, and run it by friends and family for their own advice on how they think it will be received, or if your execution needs some tweaks. Use them to also prepare for the answer you don't want to hear - sometimes it just isn't the right time, so preparing for a no is important for your own peace of mind once you've asked.
No matter how brave we are, sometimes we won't get the answer we're hoping for. The important thing is that you showed up for yourself, and as long as there is a valid reason for being told no, you can take the feedback on board and do what you need to do to get to where you need to be. However, if it feels as if you're being kept on the same salary or in the same role without justification and speaking up doesn't change things, it might be worth seeing what else is out there.