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3 Wrong Ways to Ask for a Raise

Topics: Negotiation

Three-quarters of people who ask for a raise get one, according to PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide, but what about the 25 percent of people who ask … and don’t get? While there are lots of reasons why a manager might turn down your request for more cash, there’s only one you can control: asking in the wrong way.

ask for a raise
Image Credit: Richard Masoner/Flickr

You have no control over your company’s financial prospects, your department’s budget, or your boss’s unconscious bias. You can affect your own behavior. To maximize your chances of getting the raise you deserve, do your homework, and ask in a way that your boss can hear.

Here’s what to avoid:

  1. Talking about personal issues.

“The worst possible reason to ask for a pay raise is that you can’t make it financially on your current salary,” writes Liz Ryan at Forbes. “…As harsh as it may sound, it is not your employer’s headache if you can’t afford your rent and other expenses on your current salary. There must be a business reason, not just a personal reason, if your boss is going to argue for a pay increase on your behalf.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Instead, determine your salary goal based on data. PayScale’s Salary Survey can help you figure out an appropriate salary range for your job, experience, skills, education, and geographic location.

  1. Comparing your pay to a colleague’s.

You absolutely should get paid as much as a coworker in a similar role, with the same experience and skillset. The problem is, you have no idea if all those factors are true, no matter how many conversations you have with said coworker at company happy hours. There’s no way to be sure that your coworker is being 100 percent truthful when he tells you his salary, and even if he is, you won’t have all the details about his experience, education, and previous jobs.

Even assuming that all these things are equal, and your company is being unfair, turning the conversation into a confrontation won’t help your cause. Salary negotiations, alas, are not about what’s fair; they’re about what you can get. You’ll get more if you can keep the boss on your side.

  1. Winging it.

Now’s not the time to fly without a net. Most of us simply don’t have potentially difficult conversations enough to feel comfortable making things up as we go. Write yourself a script, and practice before your meeting, and you’ll increase your chances of success.

Tell Us What You Think

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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