Living in a less than perfect world certainly has its drawbacks. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Alcohol is bad for you. And when it dawns on you that it’s time for a raise, it seems to evade the radar of your boss. Which is understandable: employers are busy. But that means that the daunting task is left up to you. While it might appear to be a simple case of ‘yes’ or ‘no’, how you go about it can significantly impact your career. Dealing with it the smart way can ensure that you secure the pay rise you feel you deserve. Handling the request inappropriately, however, can result in you not just being stuck with the same old salary, but could actually damage your relationship with your employer.

If you want a raise, do:

Schedule a meeting. This will give you the chance to fully outline why you believe you deserve a raise. Brainstorm beforehand and ensure that you’ve thoroughly rehearsed what you’re going to say. It’s definitely worth documenting what new strategies and responsibilities you’ve undertaken. That way, you can leave a physical copy with your boss so they can review what an asset you are. In the event (which you must be prepared for!) that they say no, a private setting will be more likely to leave your relationship with them intact, as this will give them a chance to explain their own reasoning in full.

Dress smartly. You know what they say: if you look good, you feel good. The same goes for looking professional. If you dress the part, your demeanour will likely follow suit. It’s particularly important to look as smart as you can on the actual day of the meeting, but try to also do this for the week leading up to it. Impressions are important – and looking polished can only help your case.

Ask after an accomplishment. Have you recently had a success of some kind at work? Capitalise on it. There’s no better time to detail why you deserve financial recognition than when you’re still basking in the afterglow of your latest achievement. Firstly, this means you’ll be able to deliver your points with more confidence. Secondly, there’s also a chance that the impressive job you’ve done lately will have circulated round the office. The best time to ask is when you’re still on a high from your accomplishments – not when you’re feeling sorry for yourself in a bad week, dreaming of how a cash injection would lift your spirits.

If you want a raise, don’t:

Expect it for doing your job. Never assume you deserve a raise because you’re doing what everyone else is doing: turning up to work and getting on with the job you were hired to do. A fundamental part of any role means agreeing to do certain duties in exchange for an established payment. To make a solid case, describe how you’ve gone over and above your job description to boost business value. This might mean that you’ve put in in extra hours. It could be that you’ve devised new strategies which required you to think outside the box. Perhaps you’ve been proving mentoring to others in the workplace. Either way, you’re going to need to show that you’re bringing something extra to the table.

Make it personal. Everyone has personal issues and would like more money to help them grease the wheels. But requesting money on the basis that you have expensive care home fees for older relatives or need tuition money for your children simply isn’t a relevant justification for a salary bump. Stick to a positive agenda instead. Don’t use emotional blackmail to guilt trip your employer for a handout. Instead, lay out clearly why you’re an exceptional member of the team,

Mention the salaries of colleagues. This really is a terrible tactic. If you start by complaining that you feel everyone earns more than you do, you’ll come off as whiny, demanding, immature…pretty much everything except the sort of person who deserves a pay rise. This also carries the risk of breaching the trust between your employer and their employees as it implies that the entire workforce is gossiping behind their back and comparing salaries. Worse still: there’s a distinct possibility that the figures you’ve caught wind of aren’t even accurate. Stay well away from this approach.

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