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8 Things to avoid when asking for a raise

Published on Friday, 27 Feb 2015

Asking your manager for a raise is a delicate process. It is a stressful and often awkward experience. You need to enter your boss's office armed with research and proof of your worth to support your request. The problem with asking for a raise is that there are only a few ways it could go right, but so many ways it could go wrong and potentially harm your career if you say or do something inappropriate. If you're not careful with how you approach your employer, you risk humiliating yourself, pointing out your flaws instead of your strengths. To ensure this doesn’t happen, avoid these eight mistakes when asking for a raise.

  1. Being unprepared. You would not go up in front of everyone and give a presentation completely unprepared, so you absoutely do not want to do this in front of your boss. If you have taken time out of your boss’s day, you need to be prepared and concise about what you are looking for and why you deserve an increase to your salary. It’s also helpful to do research your position so you are able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your market value is worth.
  2. Launching a surprise attack. Never, ever bring up a raise when your boss can blow you off or is obviously preoccupied. Do not approach your boss while he is making his morning coffee. This may seem like a casual way to approach the situation, but it will backfire. Request an appointment in advance and schedule for at least 30 minutes to give you enough time to make your case and have a discussion.
  3. Assuming you deserve it. A cost of living increase is a perfectly reasonable request, but storming into your boss's office and demanding a raise just because you've been working there for a few years is not. The only thing that will convince your boss you deserve a raise is if you have demonstrated that you have earned it. For your boss to give you a salary increase, he’s going to need to see what you have done for the company that warrants the raise.
  4. Pulling in too much information about other co-workers. Never ask for a raise while referencing what someone else makes. This is not only tasteless, but can land you in hot water as this is information that is meant to be private. However, if you and your colleagues are willing to discuss salaries and you want to use that information as a background reference for what you should ask for, that’s completely acceptable, just don’t ever make the comparison verbally as a negotiation tactic.
  5. Relying on emotional appeals. There’s a reason you are not supposed to bring your personal life to work. It is inappropriate and it rarely works. Attempting to pull on the heartstrings of your boss will be a turn off. No one likes desperation and chances are many people at your company are in a similar situation.
  6. Presenting counteroffers. This is a bad move unless you can provide proof of other offers and/or you are willing to leave your company. Most bosses will not appreciate arrogance or what they may feel as a threat so presenting a counter offer or ultimatum will usually backfire unless you already have a solid relationship with your boss.
  7. Forgetting other benefits. It’s possible that your employer may want to give you a higher salary, but money may simply be too tight. There are other incentives that you can ask for in lieu of financial compensation. Try negotiating for a more flexible work schedule or more paid vacation time. Be willing to compromise and work with what your employer is able to offer and provide.
  8. Not handling rejection well. If you do get turned down for a raise, it’s important to not become resentful. Maintaining good work relationships will help ensure not only a pleasant work environment, but it can mean a raise the next time around. One good strategy is to ask your boss what it would take to earn a raise in the future. This shows that you are serious about doing your job well and demonstrating that you are willing to work hard for the raise.

The most important thing to keep in mind when asking for a raise is to stay positive. Your boss wants to see that you are happy to work for the company and you are willing to put in the effert to earn what you are asking for. He also wants to see that you are a team player and willing to negotiate and compromise for what’s best for you and the company. Asking for a raise may well be one of the hardest things to do in your professional career and if things don’t work out this time, you’ll be better equip the next time you bring up the topic.

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