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How to Ask for a Raise

May 15, 2017

Embrace a growth mindset and learn to use this critical skill

You’re killing it at your job, and you know it. You can point to conversations that you’ve initiated with colleagues and superiors that have solved critical problems. You’ve spent hours developing strong client relationships that have resulted in additional revenue for your company, and you’re seen as a mentor to junior employees. You’re committed to building your skills and adding value. But will your hard work translate into a promotion or a raise? If you feel as if you’re overdue for either of these things, you’re probably wondering if you should continue to wait or go get what’s yours. But asking for a raise — or even thinking about asking for one — can be stressful. Still, that doesn’t mean you should avoid it.

I challenge you to embrace a growth mindset and learn to use this critical skill. Whether you’re in your first job or you’re a seasoned professional, embracing this mentality will make a tremendous impact on your career and will help you achieve your goals.

But I’ll be honest, although I embrace this skill now, I didn’t ask for a raise for the first five years of my career, even though I was working above and beyond. I didn’t know I could, and I didn’t know how. But once I realized my abilities and my impact at the company where I worked, I got over my nerves and asked not only for raises at appropriate opportunities, but also for other items that mattered. For example, I negotiated additional vacation time, growth opportunities in management, time off to complete my coaching training, flexible hours and the ability to work from home. Although I like to live with no regrets, I do wonder how much I left on the table by not asking earlier. This life experience, coupled with the opportunity to help others learn their own value, has made me a champion of negotiations.

So please, take the lessons I’ve learned over the years that have enabled me to take control of my career and finances, and apply them to your own situation when asking for a raise.

Prepare:

Get into the right mindset. Know that it may be hard to ask for more money, but in the end it’ll be worth it.

Develop your professional pitch that details (succinctly) all that you bring to your company. Be sure to include key metrics and examples that illustrate your skills.

Build and strengthen relationships, and make positive impressions with other key stakeholders at your company who can influence the decision.

Practice your pitch. Now practice it again.

Ask:

Meet with your manager to discuss your compensation. If you took the appropriate steps leading up to this moment, he or she shouldn’t be surprised. Take a deep breath (or two) before the meeting. Imagine a positive outcome in your mind. Do some power poses to bring confidence to your body language, and be sure to manage your inner critics.

Make a clear ask and make it easy on your manager by backing it up with documented evidence that her or she can reference when asking superiors for your raise.

Be open to the response and listen to suggestions. It’s going to be rare that your manager can give you an answer right away. She or he may have additional questions to help build your case or may need to check in with other stakeholders before responding.

Ask specific questions about the next steps, such as when is an appropriate time to follow up and whether there’s any additional information that you can provide that’ll be helpful in building your case.

Be sure to thank your manager for his or her time.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll get exactly what you’re asking for, but the big win here is that you asked. In fact, hearing “no” or “not yet” is still valuable feedback about where you stand and how to close the gap to get the “yes” you feel you deserve. You’ll also improve your negotiating skills each time you try, and will ultimately advance in your career and reach your full earning potential.

Rachel Kim is a senior career advisor at SoFi. There, she empowers members to align their professional and personal goals through one-on-one coaching, consulting and content sharing.