How To Ask For a Raise
By: Lincoln Giesel, LCSW
The topic of work-related stress comes up in therapy more often than you would expect. However, it is not surprising given the fact that we often invest so much purpose, meaning, and time into our jobs. Perhaps one of the most important reasons it is a stressor is because it is how we make a living!
With the cost of living in Chicago, it is important to hone in on the art and science of asking for a raise since it may become crucial at points in your life. It’s a topic that comes up often in career counseling for sure.
This post does not aim to feed you a line that will guarantee a specific amount of money. It does, however, intend to equip you with a few suggestions that may help you enter this negotiation with more confidence so you can leave your anxiety and other emotions at the door.
1. Wait for timing
This first suggestion is quite simple. If you have a performance review coming up, it would be best to float the idea of a raise before that review so your employers have ample time to incorporate this suggestion into your review.
Since they will be taking the time to evaluate your work, it will be helpful if they take this request into consideration while doing so.
2. Compare notes with others
Fortunately for American workers, discussing personal finances has become increasingly less taboo over time. There are still plenty of pretentious and tacky ways to talk about your salary with peers. However, if your goal is not to brag, but rather to understand what is fair compensation in your position, you should express these intentions and allow trusted peers and friends in your life to help you achieve your financial needs.
Due to the cost of living creep in Chicago and other US cities, many companies regularly make cost of living adjustments to their employee’s salaries. While this is not necessarily a perfect metric to gauge what is a “fair” compensation for your work, it is an important principle to keep in mind as well.
3. Back it up with data
How have you contributed to your organization? Before your official performance review, try and complete a personal performance review. By entering a conversation about a raise with a fresh self-assessment on your strengths and growth edges, you will appear that much more credible and ready to take on more responsibility that often accompanies a raise.
Since we can sometimes be limited in self-awareness, consider feedback you have received from coworkers whose judgments you trust. Work is hectic, and positive feedback from a coworker is probably well-founded if they are taking the time to provide it to you.
Keep in mind that you do not need to be a “workaholic” to deserve a raise. If you are consistently performing well and completing all tasks within the boundaries of your job description, I believe this is enough to justify a raise. Not only does over-working affect your mental and physical wellbeing, it can also have a reverse effect of its intentions and negatively impact your job performance.
4. Keep your guilt in check
Unless you are asking for an inappropriately high salary for your position, there is nothing shameful about wanting to make a more comfortable living. One main function of the emotion “guilt” is that it lets us know if we are crossing our own values or boundaries.
In an era when the lines between friend and boss or business owner are becoming increasingly blurred, it can be difficult to feel as though you deserve to advocate for yourself.
If you find yourself struggling with guilt around asking for a raise, think about what kind of advice or support you would offer a friend in the same position. I’m sure you would readily encourage them to know their worth and act upon it, so why would this advice not apply to you as well?
5. Demonstrate capacity for growth
When your company hires you, they are not only bringing you on because of your experience and knowledge, they are also trusting in your potential. By expressing your motivation and genuine curiosity for new learning opportunities and ways to contribute to the company, you are asserting your case for why you are a solid investment.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with hunkering down into a specific role and honing in on your craft, increased compensation is often paired with increased responsibility. If you are advocating for a raise, try and pair this with a vision of how you will continue to sustainably contribute to your company in the future.