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How to Successfully Negotiate Your First Raise

If you want anything in life, you have to ask, yet many people don’t ask for a raise during regular performance reviews. Over an entire career, this can lead to significant missed financial opportunities upwards of $1 million or more, according to Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University. This year, go out there and make the case for what you deserve.

Here are some tips to successfully asking for your first raise:

Begin to plan for asking for a raise several months ahead of time. If you don’t already routinely record all of your accomplishments at work, write down everything that you’ve worked on and how it has benefited your team and company as a whole. Instead of stammering out loud, you’ll have a solid list to refer to when you present your case to your boss.

Everyone can say they went the extra mile, but what really counts is going above and beyond recently. Did an ad hoc project just come up? Spearhead it. Is there a mundane task that everyone on your team tries to avoid? Do it with gusto. Is someone looking for a volunteer? Raise your hand. Remember, your goal is to make an outstanding impression leading up to the ask. Also note these extra efforts in your list of accomplishments.

Use common sense and make the ask of your boss on an appropriate day and time. Periods of layoffs, terminations, and other major company organizational changes are stressful times for your manager and probably not the best days to ask for a raise. Is your boss going on vacation? Scheduling a meeting on the Friday afternoon before their trip is also probably not the best idea. Be sensitive to your manager’s mood and personal situation — after all, they are people, too.

While it would be amazing if it happened, don’t expect to get a raise two months after starting a job, or have a 100% increase in pay. Come to this meeting with your manager fully prepared with salary information of similar roles and organizations, keeping location in mind as well. Glassdoor is a tremendous resource — use it to your advantage and be armed with some well-researched salary figures.

Whether you need more money to cover an unexpected medical expense or want to splurge on a new car or house, never use personal expenses to justify your raise. Also, never compare your salary level with a colleague in these discussions (“I work twice as hard as John but don’t make nearly as much!”) This comes across as unprofessional and unlikely to yield a positive result. Keep the discussion focused solely on your accomplishments and the value you’ve added to the company.

Even if you’ve prepared well and presented your case fairly to your manager, there’s always a chance that he or she won’t submit to your request. In that case, ask why, what you can do to meet these expectations, and when you can expect to have your case reconsidered so you will know when to follow up. Set this new date on your calendar and execute a plan before making the ask again.

Good luck!

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