Nervous? We all are. But here’s how to get it done.
Add this to the catalog of career questions you've been mulling over since graduation day. You know, like whether or not you've wasted five years in your current 9-to-5, if you should actually enroll in that post-grad program, and how you're possibly going to handle the Regina George in your office. All of those feelings—the anxiety, the nausea, and the racing heart rate — come to a head during review time. We mean, aside from the expected feedback, you’re actually going to go in and ask for something. And that something just so happens to be a raise (even typing it out makes us break into a sweat).
So to ease the incessant anxiety-fueled urge to heave up last night’s dinner right before a conversation with the boss, we had to find out the best way to broach the subject and actually get what we want. We caught up with Lydia Loizides, the founder and CEO of Talentedly, a career-oriented personal training service of sorts, who laid down the groundwork for us. The biggest takeaway? "It's not personal."
On how to judge when it’s the right time to ask…
“Getting a raise usually falls around review time. It’s a natural time to go in and talk about the achievements that you made in the previous year, set goals for the coming year, and sit down and do a real review of your contributions to the company. Most people plan for that and work toward that and use it as an opportunity to talk about advancement, whether that’s going to be a title, or salary.”
On how to stand out in the workplace…
“I think that there's a perception that if you do your job well, and you fulfill the requirements of your job that somehow, that’s a plus. It’s actually not. To truly stand out, go above and beyond what you’re asked to do in your job description. How do you interact with and collaborate with other team members? How do you build relationships with other people? Do people come to you because they trust your opinion? Those are the types of things that are really intangible that make people stand out in the workplace. Being reliable, having a good work ethic. Being the one that is going to help bring another team or another project to closure just because it’s the right thing to do. Those are the types of things that really help employees stand out in the workplace.
What you don't want to be known for is the one who always complains, who always talks about how late they stayed the night before. That wears some of those badges, to make other people feel bad. What you want to do is be the person who is going to help other people succeed.”
On how a raise can be more than just money…
“Take a step back, look at what you've contributed, look at what you've over-contributed, and if you are able to really say to yourself ‘yup, you know what, I really think that I deserve a raise’, or ‘I think I deserve a promotion’, or both. Many people think about raises as money but there are a lot of other things that you can get as a benefit besides just a cash relief.
Do you want extra time off? Do you want your employer to help you go back to school and to maybe fund some of the tuition, Because you want to continually improve your skills? A raise isn't just something that’s just monetary, it’s valuable. That’s a really important thing that I think people overlook.”
On how to ask the actual question…
“When you are ready to ask for the raise, be prepared. What you want to do is have a list of things: what did I accomplish, what did I contribute, how did I contribute? Have that list and be prepared to talk about that list. You want to give your manager or your supervisor a heads up— people don't like to be blindsided. So don't just walk in one day and say ‘Hi, I want a 5,000 dollar raise’. Sit down and say 'hey, as we are getting ready for review, I've been thinking about this and I really want to talk about the contributions that I've made for the company, about my future here and my compensation package. Do you have some time, can you put in on the calendar?' That gives people the signal and they don't get caught off guard— this is super, super important.
When the time comes and you can actually have that meeting, what you need to do, which is super hard sometimes, is not to get emotional. Think of it as a business transaction and sometimes in business, you get what you want and sometimes in business, you don't get what you want right upfront. It’s going to take a bit of time. What you want to be able to do is have an almost data driven conversation, ‘I helped close this project faster; I made the client happier; we closed the deal and it was worth more— I shaved time; I created a process that is saving us hours in the process.’ You want to be to able to show that you have contributed in some way, shape or form— that is really quantifiable and that’s super important.
Then what you want to do is solicit their feedback, ‘do you agree or do you not agree with those contributions? Yes or no?’. And then you can move into the, ‘I've looked around…’. You are going to get on Salary.com, you’re going to go find job descriptions and salaries (a lot of employers that have posted descriptions also have the salaries posted with them). How do you compare? Salary information is readily available now. Use it.”
On how much you should be asking for…
“There is no standard. It’s all about the research you need to do. Get online. Salary information is readily available on multiple career sites —glassdoor.com, salary.com,jobs.com — a lot of different places. You can see for free, what the average is by company, by industry, by how much experience you have. There is so much data that’s out there, you never want to go in without have done your homework. So do you homework and do it well. What you want to do is you want to go in and you want to present a fair value for the work that you do and a fair value that is backed up by data. You never want to go in because it’s going to make you feel better. A lot of people ask for a raise because they think that somehow it’s going to make them feel better. People aren't going to give you a raise to make you feel better. People aren't going to give you a raise because you can't handle your personal finances and you need to make more. People will give you a raise for the quality of the work that you do.
On what to do if your employer doesn't agree to give you a raise…
“If the answer is ‘no’, your job now is to do two things: not take it personally and affect your belief of your value, and the second thing you need to do is you need to find out what you need to do in order to get a raise the next time. What you want to say is, ‘I totally understand, I’d like to discuss what the goals and the metrics that I need to reach and achieve in order for us to have this conversation and to talk about a potential raise in another six months’. Get that list, get it confirmed, talk to your manager again, make sure you have a really, really clear objective and really clear goal. You want to then put a plan into place where you're going to be able to communicate to them consistently that you're working towards those goals and you're reaching those metrics. In six months you want to go back and say, ‘I'd love to have the conversation again’.
Your second option if they say ‘no’ is ask for something in kind. People forget that your compensation package from an employers perspective isn't just your salary. It’s health benefits, it’s salary, it’s training and education, it’s your phone. If you're strapped and what you're trying to do is figure out if, ‘I love my job but I just don't make enough,’ or if there is anything else that your employer can help you with. Would they pay for your cellphone, would they give you a day off? See if there are other things you can negotiate besides just plain salary.”