Tip #1 Communicate, communicate and communicate
Communication is key. Bosses can’t (and won’t) take hints that you want a pay raise, so it’s a wise move to find a good time to have a little chat over coffee. You can share reasons why you think you deserve one, in a calm and polite manner. It can be the fact that you’re covering for an ex-colleague or just taking on more responsibilities at work lately. Just remember to keep things professional and try to avoid bringing personal problems into the chat!
Tip #2 Timing is important
Picking the right time to ask for a raise is just as important as preparing for the discussion. Did you just have an annual performance review (and aced it?)? Did you just complete a huge project successfully? Is your manager in a super tense and stressed mood right now? All these will contribute to the success or failure of your request.
Also, if your company seems to be going through a bit of a slump financially, or you notice that colleagues are being let go, now may not be the perfect time to landing that pay increment; it’s pretty self-explanatory.
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Tip #3 Have in mind the amount you want
You might be vexing over how much more you should ask for, or what could be a reasonable amount. The good news is the answer can be found if you take time to speak to recruiters or people in the same field. Figuring out the market rate can help you to confidently ask for an increment without feeling like you’ve over-asked. Doing your homework can also help your boss see that you’re serious about it and not just asking for the sake for asking. Be prepared, and go into the conversation knowing your worth.
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Tip #4 Know the Competition
YOU might feel the work you’re doing warrants a significant raise of about $1,000 per month but, well, does it really? Do some research before you approach your boss just to find out more about what the general pay is for your job rank.
This won’t just show that you know what you’re talking about, but it will help to justify your claim for deserving that raise – especially if you’re below or just hitting the average. Of course, this also prevents you from suggesting an unrealistic amount that will botch your chances of getting that promotion. Demanding an extra $6,000 a month when the average wage is $3,000 is a little ‘dream big’ don’t you think?
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Tip #5 Share your successes
This step is important — you need to prove your case, with concrete examples. Whether or not you have a good relationship with your boss, you need to show that you are deserving and have contributed to the company or team. It could be a pitch you’ve won recently, or maybe you’ve aced your last few sales targets. It’s good if you can pull out a list of evident successes or achievements from your recent projects. It may not always have to be huge victories. Even successfully coaching your colleague on a new skill can be part of your list. It’ll prove to your boss that you have some leadership skills too.
Focus your request to why you deserve it and not why you need the raise. And if you know that your boss really loves concrete data, be sure to add in figures to identify key moments where you contributed to the company.
Tip #6 Give a list of suggested improvements for the business
After being in the company for a period of time, you should have observed a couple of things that you wish you could change (because while there are good companies around, no company’s perfect). Why not share them with your boss? On top of that, give them real solutions and not just whine about the problems (that they may or may not know about). This will also help to show your initiative and commitment to the company. More importantly, be positive and enthusiastic about what you think you can do.
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Tip #7 Offer to take up more responsibilities
With more money comes more responsibilities, simply because it’s true that there’s no free lunch in this world! If you think you are ready for something new and can pile a little more on your plate, you can speak to your boss about it. But let us remind you to always keep a healthy balance and not let it affect the quality of your current work!
Tip #8 Plan for a no
We Singaporeans are no stranger to pragmatism and that’s what we’re preaching here. It’s not enough to go into the meeting thinking that this is anything less than a negotiation. Try thinking of reasons that you might be refused a raise and then think of reasons to refute them.
Be armed with counter arguments if (or when) your boss challenges your request. And pro-tip: Phrase your responses in a way that show you’re not only considering your needs but the company’s too.
Tip #9 Think long term
Another way to boost your chances is to tell your boss what’s in it for the company if you should get a raise. Don’t just talk about what you’ve done but what you can do to further improve your, and by extension, the company’s performance, which is where the money (and your boss’ mind) is at.
Plus, it’ll show the company you’re a loyal worker worthy of their investment! We’ll admit, this is a little bit ‘extra’, but hey, you’ve gotta do what it takes, right?
Tip #10 Don't quit
If you truly are planning on staying in the company, then try not to sabotage your chances, or relationships, by threatening to move or quit. It may sound like a good idea until you’re called out for it. This might also diminish your chances to get further training opportunities should your boss take it the wrong way.
Of course, if you are only after a pay raise and don’t mind actually leaving the job, then by all means, be sure to bring up that sweet offer from the competitor – but be prepared to leave is all we’re saying!
Tip #11 Set new targets
So your boss says no. Refuses you flat out and you’re just not ready to move on. Now what?
You may or may not get your desired pay raise even if you ask sometimes, but don’t be discouraged because a ‘no’ now is not a ‘no’ forever! Maybe your boss thinks it’s not the right time yet. Regardless, it’s important to avoid being emotional and to maintain professionalism through the talk. Take a few breaths and don’t be rash. Instead of threatening to quit, try requesting for an appraisal. Sometimes your company just might not be doing well enough to justify giving you a raise (read Tip #2).
You can take the chance to ask for valuable feedback about your skills and performance, and set goals with your boss and deadlines so you can revisit this whole pay-raise talk in time to come. If you wish, you can also request for sponsorship for courses that can help you increase your skills set and contribute to the company.
Be proactive in making sure you’re on the radar for when it’s possible. A performance appraisal doesn’t just show your confidence in your skills or your commitment to the company, it may also open doors to other forms of opportunities or rewards. Getting ahead is all in the strategy, ladies!
Most importantly, though, never be afraid to ask for a raise if you think you deserve it. Just as we don’t have time for the men who won’t notice our brilliance, your bosses might fail to recognise your achievements. So go forth and start demanding more, ladies. We’re right behind you.
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Text: Emilia Tan and Emily Joosten/HerWorld