Commentary: The Right Way to Ask for a Raise

Asking for a raise in pay at work can feel like a huge challenge.  It can seem embarrassing to talk about money, or your own qualities, or perhaps you feel uncomfortable talking to your boss about anything at all!
            No one likes to invite criticism and asking for a pay raise can feel like doing just that. Or perhaps you just don't feel you have the right words or have little idea how to negotiate effectively.

When asking for a pay raise, the best advice you can get is to be prepared.  Think before you act and get yourself ready to negotiate a raise.  Gather information about your job performance, job duties, additional responsibilities, praise from supervisor, and additional training or new skills acquired since you were hired.  These things should be typed in an organized fashion and can be presented to your boss at the time of negotiations.  Be prepared to give reasons why you should be given a raise.

Be realistic.  Before you ask for a raise, look over your job performance.  If you've only been there two weeks, or have had a bad attendance record, don't expect much of a raise.

Have some idea of what you are looking for.  Check the classifieds in the newspaper to see what other companies are paying for someone with your skills and experience.  Do some research  to see how your paycheck and benefits compare to the going rate in your area.  Although, you never want to discuss other employees and what they earn when discussing a raise with your boss.  Never say, "So and so makes such and such, why not me?"  Keep the focus on your accomplishments and contributions on the job.

Consider the needs of your employer.  If you work for a small company and business has been slow or there have been lay offs, chances are it's not a good time to ask for a pay raise.

Practice what you will say to your employer with a significant other and anticipate what your boss may ask you.  Then, you can set up an appointment for your meeting.

During these talks. Remember that these discussions are actually negotiations.  Don't make demands or back yourself into a corner.  You'll do much better by presenting your thoughtful reasons on why you believe you have earned a raise.

Always remain calm during your negotiations no matter what the outcome is.  Remember, you still have to work there when the discussion is over, so keep a cool head.

Be creative with your negotiations.   If additional dollars are not available for a pay raise, how about better job responsibilities or better hours.  Then plan on a raise sometime down the line.

Know when to stop negotiating.  Have a goal in mind.  When you have gotten something that will make you happy, even if it is not everything you wanted, smile and say "thank you" and exit.  These are negotiations, you give a little and so does your employer.

Be prepared if you do not get a raise and need to start looking for another job.  But never quit in anger.  You won't get a good reference and it's likely to cause financial problems for you and your family.  Have a sensible plan for finding another job at your pace and on your terms.  That's the best way to leave any job.

10 Questions to ask yourself before you ask for a raise.  Be honest in answering these questions and realistic with your expectations.

1. How long have you worked for this employer? (longer is better.)

2. How would you describe your attendance record?

3. What are your workplace duties? Have you increased the amount of money the company is taking in?

4. Have you been given additional responsibilities since you were hired?  If so, what are they?

5. Has your work been acceptable to your supervisors?  If not, why?

6. Would you be willing to take on additional tasks or responsibilities along with a raise?

If so what?

7. Have you acquired new skills on the job since you were hired?

8. Have you received additional job-related training since you were hired?

9. How would you describe your relationship with co-workers?

10. When was the last time you received a raise from your employer, if ever?