Asking for a raise or bonus can be nerve-wracking, but fortunately, there are things you can do to impress your boss or manager and at your next job evaluation — and right now — that will make them want to give you a pay boost. And if your goal is to get an extra $500 in your paycheck by the end of 2019, you still have plenty of time!
I spoke to top managers, CEOs, career experts and other financial experts to get their best advice on what you can do to maximize your chances of snagging a pay increase. Follow their advice on how to get a raise, and you could be richer by the end of the year.
Work Hard To Become an Invaluable Team Member
“One of the easiest ways to earn a raise is to identify what your manager really needs,” said Logan Allec, CPA and owner of personal finance site Money Done Right.
Focusing on what’s actually needed of you instead of getting caught up with side tasks makes you a more valuable member of the team.
“The key here is to become so invaluable that you can then leverage your worth when it comes time to ask for a raise,” said Allec.
Set Clear Performance Objectives With Your Higher-Ups
“Establish quarterly performance objectives with your managers, and fully align on the formal and informal review process for performance evaluations and raise consideration and timing,” said Mark Beal, author of the book “101 Lessons They Never Taught You In College.” “Once those metrics and timing are defined, an employee is fully informed as to what they need to deliver to have the best opportunity to receive a raise.”
Build Meaningful Connections and Network
“While you can easily keep a brag book and identify all the reasons you deserve a raise, more times than not those kind words sound better coming from others,” said Allec. “If you take the time to really develop positive relationships within the workplace, it will add to your overall value as a team member and your worth as an employee of the company. When it comes to office events and team outings, don’t hide — this is your time to shine. Don’t shy away from getting to know senior managers and executives as well. If you’re well-liked and do good work, you’ll be that much closer to the raise you deserve.”
Evaluate Your Role Now Against When You Started
If you’ve been in your current position for a while, chances are your role has changed and expanded — even if you didn’t realize it.
“Ask yourself this question: Has the role and responsibilities changed or increased from when you started? Review the full job description and make sure,” said Devay Campbell, a career coach and HR professional. “If so, this is a good time to ask for additional compensation.”
Find Ways To Help Your Company Save Money
“Pay attention at work and find areas where you can help your company cut costs,” said Jon of MoneySmartGuides. “You can then use this as leverage to earning a larger raise. For example, at a previous job, we were doing a lot of things in MS Excel manually. I created a macro that did 85% of the job. This saved us a ton of time and when I had my annual review, I was sure to bring this up. The result was I earned a 5% raise that year versus the typical 3%.”
Make the Extra Effort To Improve Your Skills
Managers appreciate employees who take the initiative to grow and improve on their own, said Igor Kholkin, CEO and founder of Avidon Marketing Group. Before your job evaluation, consider taking the time to complete a certificate course or do some additional training. You could even use paid online learning platforms such as Lynda.com, he said.
Doing only what your job demands of you — even well — isn’t enough to earn a raise in many cases.
“Don’t just hit your target goals — surpass them,” said Missy Galang, director of revenue at DiversyFund. “Most employers will take note and their appreciation will be reflected in your [pay]check.”
Nobody likes a downer. And every boss hates to give a downer a raise, said Timothy Wiedman, a retired associate professor of management and human resources at Doane University.
“Whenever company budgets tighten, candidates for merit-based bonuses need more than the mere ability to get the job done. They also need to generate enthusiasm and confidence among their supervisors, colleagues and subordinates,” he said.
While completing work on time is crucial, employees also need to make sure they demonstrate positive attitudes. Grumbling about every challenge or obstacle will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons. Still, employees who have demonstrated poor behavior in the past need not lose hope.
“Developing a positive, optimistic, can-do attitude can be accomplished in a few short months, and is sure to be noticed and valued within the organization,” said Wiedman.
Analyze Any Opportunities at Your Job That You're Not Taking Advantage Of
If you’re looking for ways to increase your paycheck, make sure you’ve taken advantage of all the opportunities at your fingertips.
“When’s the last time you had a review or a raise? Are there bonuses, incentives or benefits you’re not using but could be? Is there overtime or extra work opportunities? All of these add up to potential easy wins for your paycheck,” said Tana Williams of Debt Free Forties. “By taking the time to research, asking for what you’re worth and signing up for benefits that you’re not currently using, you can often add more padding in your paycheck.”
Research Salary Ranges for Your Position
Candidates should research salary ranges for their positions on sites like Glassdoor or PayScale.
“This will help you better understand your market value and how much of a raise you can realistically ask for,” said Deb Shaw, founder and head of research at MarketsNow.
Get Other Job Offers To Use as Leverage
Once you’ve done research on PayScale and Glassdoor to see how much other companies are paying for positions similar or identical to your current role, you might consider applying for higher-paying positions in the same role at a different company — even if you’re not sure if you would actually leave your current job.
Research If the Work You Do Has Improved Your Company's Bottom Line -- Even Indirectly
Employees seeking raises should research whether their work has resulted in additional business or income for the company. This could sometimes be happening indirectly, so take some time to research all the ways you could be contributing.
“Maybe the results you delivered for one client led to referrals and two new client accounts,” said Shaw.
Factor In Your Intangibles
Being able to point to sales or other tangible profits that you brought to your company is great. But don’t forget that more than paperwork and signatures go into a healthy bottom line. If you contribute in ways that go beyond your normal responsibilities, bring those up in your review, said Kholkin.
“Are you the company’s biggest advocate outside of the office? Do you consistently provide emotional support to stressed colleagues? Are you the office comic relief that coworkers love to chat with to de-stress during crunch time? All of those are highly valuable contributions,” said Kholkin.
For best results, spend the time leading up to your evaluation composing a list of achievements — both tangible and intangible. Intangibles could be the difference between getting a raise and getting turned down.
Have Clear Goals in Place When Negotiating a Raise
Don’t just focus on what you’ve done, but also on what you will do.
“No boss is going to hand out a raise to someone who plans to stay stagnant in their role at a company,” said Allec. “When you start negotiations, be sure you can clearly express not only why you deserve a raise, but how this will fuel your drive for continued success within the company. Essentially, how will the company benefit from increasing your paycheck?”
Practice Your Pitch
You know what they say about practice — it makes perfect. It can also make you more money at job evaluation time, said Martha Schmitz, a senior advisor with career help site Mentat. While you don’t have to spend hours in front of the mirror practicing your smile, you will need to perfect what to say when asking for a raise through repetition.
“Employees should go over their pitch with trusted friends or even with a career advisor, making sure they can confidently and concisely state their worth as an employee,” said Schmitz.
Holding a mock job evaluation also helps ensure you remember all the salient points on the day of your review. Shaw notes that employees should have friends or colleagues offer challenges to their requests that supervisors are likely to make. Doing this allows workers to craft effective counteroffers in preparation for the big day.
Put Yourself in Your Employer's Position
When asking for a raise, it’s important to remember that your supervisor likely has to justify the extra expenditure to his or her boss. On the other hand, if your supervisor owns the company, giving you a raise takes away from the business’ bottom line. So, you’ll be best served by seeing the job evaluation process from his or her position, said Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal.
Clayton recommends mentioning your raise request well ahead of December. Doing this gives your boss time to point out improvements you can make in your performance before the end of the year. Clayton went on to mention a worker who used this approach with him.
The employee approached Clayton several months before the end of the year, saying, “I understand you can’t hand out raises just because someone has been here X number of years. I believe that raises and any promotions should be awarded in the same fashion that martial artists earn belts. And I understand that I am a brown belt right now, but I want to be a black belt. Let’s brainstorm on five actionable things I can do between now and the end of the year to get to black belt status, and then we will revisit before Christmas and review my progress and my raise. Sound good?”
This approach worked on Clayton when he was a manager, and he believes it is likely to be effective with other supervisors and owners as well.
Use Your Last Review as a Basis
Kholkin suggests using your previous review as a basis to show how much you’ve grown since then. The goal is to demonstrate to your manager how valuable you are to the company now.
“The bonus of doing this is that your resume also grows stronger, making you more attractive to other employers in the future,” said Kholkin.
Be Flexible With Compensation
When it comes to getting a bonus or raise, it’s only natural to think in monetary terms. However, Shaw advises employees to have more open minds about compensation. Sometimes, it’s just not possible for a company to offer you more pay, but it can offer other perks.
“Even though your employer might not agree to the full pay raise you are asking for, there is still room to negotiate other benefits in areas such as stock options, free gym membership, insurance and extra vacation days,” Shaw said.
Additionally, Schmitz recommends requesting that employers pay for certificate or degree programs to help you grow as a professional. These perks can often be more valuable than the raise you would have gotten.
Bonus: 2 Ways To Boost Your Paycheck Without Getting a Raise
If you don’t think you will qualify for a raise this year, or your company isn’t giving raises due to financial constraints, there are still ways to add $500 to your paycheck by the end of the year. One way is to adjust your tax withholding.
“Each year, you should evaluate your tax withholdings based on your life changes and if you received a refund the prior year,” said Fo Alexander, a certified financial education instructor at Girl Talk With Fo. “In many cases, we tend to pay too much in taxes and could be seeing that extra money in our paychecks. By adjusting your withholdings, you may be able to garner an additional $500 in your paycheck that would have otherwise been returned as a tax refund.”
The second way is to pause your retirement contributions.
“If you need the extra cash to pay off debt perhaps, temporarily pause your retirement contributions,” said Alexander. “This is particularly doable if your company matches your contributions. In that case, lower your contributions to the amount that you’d get a match for and allow the rest to remain in your paycheck.”
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About the Author
With eight years of experience working in the personal finance space at GOBankingRates, Jaime Catmull has amassed an extensive network of financial influencers and experts. Now, she’s tapping that network to get the real scoop on how you can live your best financial life and increase your wealth.