Increase your odds of getting a raise in 6 easy steps

Several times a year, participants will ask us, “Do you have any tips for asking for a raise?” Any negotiation regarding a sensitive issue like salary can be difficult to negotiate. Salary increases can impact departmental budgets or create tension with other employees who feel they are also entitled to a raise, adding to the difficulty of asking for a raise. On a personal level, not getting the raise could ultimately impact your ability to live your preferred lifestyle. If you are going to tackle this challenge, you need a plan. Following are six tips to help you prepare to ask for a raise and maximize your chances of obtaining it.

1. Build your reputation. When we use the word reputation, it is important to note that there are only two types of reputations: good ones and bad ones. Do you do exactly what is required for your job or do you go above and beyond in your tasks? Do you volunteer for additional assignments or take the time to solve the tough problems at work? The tougher the problems you are able to solve, the higher your perceived value when you negotiate a raise. The best opportunity to receive a raise is when your boss feels that the results you produce are significant.

2. Think about timing. When it comes to asking for a raise, timing is everything. The best time to ask for a raise is when your company is financially strong, it is outperforming the budget, your performance is stellar, and you have a great relationship with your boss.

3. Know what you are worth. In asking for a raise, it is critical that you know the value of your worth. Value can be divided into two areas: your intrinsic value to your current company and your extrinsic value (or marketable worth based on your skills and talents) to other potential employers. It is important to understand the difference between your intrinsic and extrinsic value because they could play a large role in deciding what to ask for and what you’ll actually receive when asking for a raise. For example, you may be an excellent writer, and if your company does not utilize your writing skills, you will have low intrinsic value. But you could market that skill to another organization in need of it, helping you gain a higher extrinsic value.

The best way to know what you are worth is to search the current job market. You can find salary information quite easily on sites like, PayScale, or Glassdoor.

4. Clarify your goals. In negotiation, what makes up a positive end result varies from person to person. Benefits like shorter commutes, laid-back work cultures, choosing your own job title, robust medical plans and retirement plans, and work- life culture play a key role in how someone will steer a negotiation. You may succeed in negotiating a higher salary, but is the consequence of working later hours, for example, worth it to you? Being confident about your personal goals is helpful in knowing what to ask for from your boss.

5. Prepare for your meeting. Before you meet with your boss, you must be prepared and feel confident you have earned the right to ask for a raise. It will be helpful to point out things like your three most significant accomplishments at work. It will also be helpful to focus on how you will add significant value in three or four areas that you are responsible for in the year to come. Focus on significant and specific accomplishments such as the fact that you have exceeded your sales quota by 50 percent or more each quarter.

It will also be helpful to know your boss’s needs and goals and demonstrate how your future significant accomplishments will ensure that you and your boss succeed.

6. Role-play prior to meeting with your boss. Asking for a raise is no easy task. We encourage you to practice with a friend or relative who can give you critical feedback on your ask. Let the counterpart play the role of your boss by asking tough questions a boss is likely to ask, and providing objections such as budgetary restraints. Role-play two or three times and you will feel your level of confidence rise with each practice.

With a thorough preparation and these 6 steps, you are prepared to ask for a raise. The better prepared you are when you walk into any negotiation, the more self-esteem you will have, and the more confident you will be. For more tips on asking for a raise or to learn more about successfully conducting the meeting with your boss, refer to our new book “The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need.