Obviously this is the absolute wrong time in human history to ask for a raise. With the onset of the first self-isolation pandemic in most of our lifetimes; rioting and protesting across the world for race, pipelines, and policing it; with people being laid off every day due to a massive economic downturn, it would be insensitive and inappropriate to ask for a raise.
Why It Might Be The Right Time
And yet, for the people who are still able to work many are being asked to take on additional risk, do more work in place of coworkers who are now laid off or unable to work due to their own high-risk health circumstances – to ask for a raise might be appropriate. Before you ask for a raise during this time, I strongly encourage you to take stock of your entire compensation package from top to bottom, consider the organizations financial situation, and consider your reasons for needing or wanting a raise.
The Raise Race
Unfortunately, if you check Google Analytics it is during the month of March that people are researching how to ask for a raise. Usually by March most employers have made their decisions about which staff will receive which increments and which will get what bonuses. It should come as no surprise then that by the time April comes around we begin to google job dissatisfaction but by May, when our raise actually kicks in, we are googling “I hate my job” and “How do I ask for a raise”.
However, if you consider what is going on right now we are seeing a lot of the same uptick in those same Google searches. Along with the word “workaholic“. The fact is, by the time most people are looking to ask for an annual raise, their boss has already made his or her decision OR, especially during Covid-19, they aren’t even considering it.
Many organizations have taken a broad brushstroke to every employee stating that “no raises will be given” and “don’t ask for a raise this year”, and yet many organizations are having record profits and worse yet, many CEOs and executives are still taking their bonuses.
Truthfully, some people are going to get raises this year, so it’s a bit of a race.
Why You Should Ask
Most people don’t actually ask for a raise and sadder yet is that most people don’t bother to negotiate a raise for their hard work. These people (and this is most of the population) simply accept what they are given for a raise. There is nothing wrong with this by the way EXCEPT FOR THE FACT that seventy percent of the people who ask for a raise have received one! Thirty-nine percent of people who ask for a raise get exactly what they ask, and an additional thirty-one percent of people who ask for a raise get an increase of some kind, even if it isn’t what they asked for.
Sometimes we get exactly what we deserve or we get what the company can afford. Although, in either case, I recommend trying to ask for a raise once every couple of years, regardless of what is the world circumstance. This will help you to keep in good practice and also ensure your boss knows you are still engaged. If you can relate to any of the above then this confident career tip is for you!
How to ask for a raise
Know your timing
This sounds trivial but it’s imperative. Ask your Human Resource department or your boss when the annual review cycle takes place, then ask them if this is also when they consider annual increases. You want to ask for a raise just prior to this time; however, you can ask for a raise anytime that works for you.
Confident Career Super Tip: Use the words “annual increase” instead of “raise” if you want to avoid you or your boss shrinking into their chair or feel they have to avoid you.
I would also ensure you do not ask for a raise when you’re leader is tired, stressed or otherwise pre-occupied.
Taking stock is about knowing where you sit in your organization and your industry before you ask for a raise. Here are the questions you should answer:
- What do you currently make?
- When was your last raise?
- What is the market value for your position in your industry and city?
- Did you set and achieve your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators – also known as workplace goals as set out by the organization and your leader)?
- Did you have regular reviews and what were the results of those? (If not, you need to start owning your career. Schedule those reviews!)
- Were there any surprises this year that work in your favour or against you?
- How did the last three months go? – Yes they should look at the whole year; however, it is the last few months, sometimes weeks, that will be most clear in your bosses mind.
Set your number
Based on what you have answered above, if you were absolutely honest to the best of your knowledge you should be able to come up with a reasonable number that you’d like to start making. Ask for a raise
Make the ask! Your Script…
Ask for a raise – this is the tough part for most people because most of us are scared to ask for a raise. Here is a script and timeline you can adapt to ask for a raise. Remember, this is only one approach, you should adapt this to fit your situation. I would approach this in a very casual way at first, maybe just while passing your bosses office you might say:
Hi Janine, I was hoping to chat with you about doing my annual review (or a review) in the next few days.
When you get the green light from Janine go ahead and schedule the review. Feel free to send an agenda in advance, this allows them to be kept apprised of your intention in the review and allows them to prime or prepare their thoughts. You could state the following in an email or in the meeting request:
Janine, thank you for agreeing to do my annual review this week. I’d like to send a tentative agenda to ensure we have enough time to discuss everything. Outside of doing the standard review about my KPIs I’d also like to discuss how the company determines our salaries as well as share to share my compensation goals with you. Finally, I’d like to discuss what your goals are within our organization and how I can best support you in your role.
You can see by following this agenda you are not only clear but also you are not just going to ask for a raise – i.e. it’s not just about the money. You are going to talk to Janine about four things:
- Your performance
- How the compensation assignment works in the company
- This is where you will ask for a raise by saying:
Janine, thank you for the discussion to this point. This is the part of our conversation where I’d like to share my compensation goals with you. Specifically, I’d like to discuss my personal goal with my annual increase. At some point I would like to see my salary go from $62,000 to $75,000.
Then pause. Give them an opportunity to digest this information. Not ten seconds, but only for two or three seconds. Janine just needs an opportunity to process the request. Once you have done this there are some options for you to consider. I would consider asking one or both of the following questions:
Would I be able to share my personal reasons for this goal?If you can connect asking for a raise to a personal goal it makes it a personal for your leader too and they will want to help you achieve it if they are any kind of decent human being.
Will this be possible in our organization at this time?OPTIONAL: Only after Janine answers negatively that it isn’t possible you may ask, “What would it take for the organization or myself to get to a place where I could be at this level of compensation?” This will help you understand what is required which is invaluable when you go to ask for a raise the next time.
- Finally, regardless of how the raise conversation goes, ask about Janine’s goals, what does she want to accomplish with the team, department, or organization.
Remember, you must end with that final bullet point, no matter what happens with the other parts. You need to do this for two reasons:
- You need to know this information so you can better support Janine, thus making yourself a more ideal candidate for when raises are doled out next time
- It leaves the conversation on a high point for your leader and they think favourably for you
Fear of Rejection
By this point lots of people are saying, “I could never ask for a raise!” People are so afraid of feeling uncomfortable, especially when it comes to their own worth. But look at the evidence you have gathered by taking stock using the questions you answered above! Also, remember, if you don’t ask, nobody is going to advocate on your behalf.
Something else you should know, if you don’t ask for a raise, the answer is already no.
Quite frankly, people are stupidly afraid of rejection and this can be overcome. I suggest that if you are afraid of rejection you need to learn to overcome it as quickly as possible.
Also, when you look at the above statement you can see that we haven’t actually asked for a raise, have we? Instead we have simply made it clear that at “some point” we’d like to make that amount. This should take the pressure off you and your boss when you are having this discussion.
Don’t get discouraged
If you are afraid that you are going to shrink back and not ask then let’s beef up your confidence with a strategy session.
Remember you may not hear what you want to hear. Do not get discouraged. You have put the bug in your bosses ear. Let them digest it a bit and see where you end up. In one case I did have a boss tell me:
“You will never make that kind of money here, not in this department, not in this company.”
While this can be tough to hear, it’s actually a huge blessing in disguise. When you hear this from your boss it’s a good sign that you either need to accept where you are at, find something better, or disagree with them and keep trying to influence your current situation. In my case, it was exactly the motivation I needed to leave the organization to find a career and company I was happier working at (not just because of the money, it was a better fit overall).
Your boss may even be so bold to laugh and say:
I don’t even make that much.
You can simply respond with
I’m sorry to hear that Janine, I think you certainly deserve that much; however, I’m wondering if you could still answer my question about what you would need to see for me to see an increase to that level?
Or, if you are particularly brave, you can response with
I’m sorry to hear that; however, this is where I’d like to see myself. Can you tell me what the organization would need to see from me to get to this level or what would need to happen in the organization for budgets like this to become available?
A few final tips
Remember, sometimes bosses will give you the annual review and your raise at the same time. In my books this is a no-no but it happens all the time, this is why now is the time to get your ducks in a row. Also you may not even have an annual review and just get a letter, notice, or conversation that you have received a raise; again, this further’s the point that knowing the timeline of annual increases is in your best interests.
Best of luck and remember that luck is only the convergence of being prepared and having the opportunity! SO GO ASK FOR A RAISE!