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5 tips for asking for a raise without jeopardizing your career (or dignity)

June 15, 2015
By Jen Doran

Just mustering the nerves to ask for a raise can be a feat, but don’t let your courage go to waste by blurting out your request in the hallway or coming to the table unprepared. Here are five things to consider that will set yourself up for success with your boss, even if the answer is “no.” 

Do your homework

That’s right—just because you know you deserve a pay bump (and you think your boss knows it, too), doesn’t mean you don’t have to make your case. Outline the highlights of why you deserve a raise, including new responsibilities you’ve taken on, goals you’ve surpassed, and other value you’ve brought to your team above and beyond the requirements of your current role. These accomplishments will concretely demonstrate to your boss why you deserve a pay increase. Don’t assume he or she will approach you with a reward. It’s your responsibility to be proactive and make your own case.

Be realistic

It’s important to have a specific dollar amount in mind when you have this conversation. This goes back to doing your homework—research your market value both online and by talking to people in similar roles or to recruiters who have experience placing people with your skill set. Your expectations need to be realistic to your role, your organization and the value you bring. If you can quantify your value by talking about the new accounts you’ve brought on or leads you’ve generated, even better.

Respect the relationship

Threatening to quit if you don’t get a raise—or using a job offer as leverage—amounts to burning a bridge. It damages your relationship with your boss and reflects negatively on you. Even if it’s really how you feel, avoid bringing it into the conversation. If you really are worth what you’re asking and your boss can’t deliver, he or she should expect you’re entertaining the idea of pursuing other options.

Be professional

Asking for a raise is like participating in a job interview all over again; you’re selling yourself and what you can do for the company. It’s important to treat the situation in as professional a manner as you would in the interview setting. Have the conversation in person, convey confidence and be serious about it, even if you’re usually informal and buddy-buddy with your boss. It might help to practice either alone or with a friend who can help you prep for questions you might be asked and will get you comfortable with articulating your points clearly.

Play the long game

Lastly, have a plan for the conversation in the event your boss does say no. Ask what it would take to get a raise next quarter, or next year. If you can walk away with at least a plan of action to work toward, you should be proud of yourself. All that’s left is to follow through.

Like this article? Read related articles to help you in your IT job search:

Common mistakes to avoid in your next IT job interview (part 1) 

Common mistakes to avoid in your next IT job interview (part 2) 

Jennifer Doran, Consultant Program Manager for TEKsystems, develops, manages and supports the company’s national programs that represent the voice and needs of IT professionals in TEKsystems’ network.

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