There’s nothing more heart-pounding than walking into your boss’ office and asking for a raise. Even if you’re a top employee with nothing but five-star reviews, peer adoration and a proven track record, asking for a pay bump is so stress-inducing that, often, even the most raise-worthy employees think twice before raising their hand.
Even if the thought of asking your boss for a raise is terrifying, eventually you’ll be in a position where it’s mission-critical—you’ve got another offer on the table, for example, or simply know you aren’t being paid what you’re worth. The longer you let things like that linger, the more resentful you’ll become and the less likely you are to be satisfied with your day-to-day. And that’s an even bigger problem to overcome than asking for a raise.
So when it’s time, make a plan and make the ask. Here’s how to take the stress, anxiety and uncertainty out of the raise equation.
#1. Do your homework
Sites like Glassdoor publish user-reported salaries for countless jobs at countless companies. If you make $55,000 as a social media coordinator at your company, go ahead and enter your title, location and company name into Glassdoor and see if there are any other coordinator salaries listed for your organization. If so, see how you stack up. If you’re on the lower side, make a note of the average and high salaries for your spot. If there aren’t any other relevant salaries reported, check out competitive companies and see what their social media coordinators make.
#2. Jot down your achievements
It’s easy for your superiors to forget about the persuasive presentation you gave that helped secure the multi-million dollar deal, or the SEO audit that helped boost organic site traffic by double-digits. Don’t be afraid to dust off those successes, even if they’re a few months old. You’ll want to walk into your raise conversation with a case they can’t ignore. Highlighting these achievements—and being as data-driven as possible—is a perfect way to enhance your positioning.
#3. Have a specific number in mind
Instead of saying, “I deserve a raise,” ask for a specific number. If, through your research, you discovered most social media coordinators in your company or in your field are making $65,000, it’s easy enough to say, “the average social media coordinator is making $65,000—so I’d like to request a $10,000 pay increase.”
If, though, you’re in-line with industry norms or at the high side of the payscale, you can still come up with a number that you feel speaks to your contributions. For example, if you delivered 100,000 new Facebook followers or brought in ten new clients, say so—and put a price tag to that. “I’ve driven significant boosts to our brand awareness, including lead generation—so I’d like to ask for a $10,000 pay increase, which I think is in line with the work I’ve done this year.”
#4. Don’t get personal
It’s not your boss’ problem that you’re getting married this spring and have serious wedding expenses or that your landlord jacked your rent 10%. It’s also not their problem that you caught a glimpse of your colleague’s paystub, and she makes quite a bit more. Stick with you and your professional story—what you’ve achieved and why you’re worth the extra pay. Veer into the personal and you’ll likely lose out or, at the very least, seem less-than-professional.
#5. Be open to feedback
Maybe you’ll get a quick “yes”—or maybe you won’t. If the answer isn’t what you want or if your boss needs to circle back, make sure you 1) get feedback on the ask, 2) are open to that feedback and 3) have a clear-cut next step in place before walking out of her office. Should you follow up in a month? Are there things you need to work on first before being considered for a raise—and can you plan to connect on your progress in 90 days? When your boss shares those next steps, lean in—sometimes with a little added focus you can secure a rock solid raise.
No matter what’s said, be gracious. Even if you don’t get what you want right now, your boss will remember how you handled yourself—for better or for worse. That will reflect on future considerations, be it for a raise, a promotion or other opportunities.