How to ask for a raise?

Have you ever been in a situation where you are not getting rewarded monetarily for your hard work? I definitely have. It wasn’t until the recent years that I realized that the best way to get more money is to simply ask for a raise.

2 years ago, I was making 1/3 less than what I am making now. I always thought that by working hard and performing well, I will be rewarded monetarily but instead, all I seem to get are extra workload and more responsibilities. I haven’t really thought about switching jobs, because I really enjoy what I’m doing, the flexibility and autonomy at work.

Then one day, I came across a local job portal site which advertise jobs with salary ranges. I found out I was making much less than peers with similar experiences and skills. My initial thought was to switch jobs, since the company didn’t seem to appreciate the hard work I’m putting in.

But then I decided to take a step back and think more rationally. I was performing well, I know company’s revenue was growing double digits year on year. I know how hard it is to find someone and train them up. So instead of switching jobs, I decided to ask for a pay raise. And I got 2 pay raises within 2 years with no extra workload or responsibility other than the ones I already had.

Asking for a pay raise is simple but it takes a lot of courage to bring up the conversation with your boss. But always remember, the worst answer you can get is No, which is already the answer that you are getting by not asking.

How to ask for a raise?

There will be factors that are out of your control but will influence if the company is able to give you a raise.

Is your company growing and profitable?

This will give you an idea of whether your company has the budget. If your company is making losses year after year, maybe it’s time to rethink about jumping ship. How to know if your company is growing and profitable? One obvious clue is when you see a lot of new headcounts. Another way is to look out for the company’s financial reports if it is a listed company.

How is the economy doing?

Personally, I would find it tough to bring up the subject of a pay raise during this Covid-19 situation, where all the news are reporting about unemployment rates rising and people being retrenched.
But then again, there could be exception, like if you are in an industry that is in demand during this period.

And then, there are factors that can be controlled by you.

Research your market rate

Research your market rate and bring this data to the table for discussion. There are sites like Glassdoors or Payscales where you can research on your market rate. Because I reside in Singapore, I like to use this local job portal called CareersFuture. This site publishes jobs with salary range. So you can start with this as a guideline.

Work performance

Check in with your manager on your performance at least once every quarter. And be sure to keep track of all your accomplishments. List them out in a document. This helps when it is time for you to ask for a raise.

Ask before the Annual Review Cycle

Every company has a annual review cycle where they will do a performance review of each employee and let you know if you have gotten an increment. This is not the time to ask for a raise. If you do it this time, you may get a response similar to ‘It’s not in the budget’ or ‘The budget has been set, we will review it next year.’

You want to ask at least 3 months before the annual review cycle. This is the time where they are setting budgets for every department. Make your request known when they are still setting budgets so that they can wiggle around the budget to give you that raise. Tell them that is why you are raising this earlier, so that when they get the budget, they can put in your request.

You may find that the above are pretty much textbook answers that you will get when you google for it. Because it truly is that simple.

So once you have all the data you need, set a time to speak with your manager. I find it easiest just to send a calendar meeting request a week before the actual meeting. This way, it will be in yours and his calendar and you will be able to block time off for discussion.

Present your data, always ask them if they agree with what you’ve presented. This can be your accomplishments or the extra responsibilities you’ve taken on, or the market research salary range. If they agree all the way, then it would be much easier to get them to agree to the pay raise when you ask the question. And once you have asked to have your pay adjusted, then keep silence. Let your manager speak now.

If they disagree, ask why and keep quiet, do not defend, and listen to what they have to say. Are those valid points? It could be related to the factors you can’t control. If it’s performance, then maybe something went wrong in the regular performance check in?

Take in what they have to say. Don’t burn bridges. At the end of it, if really the company is not going to give you a raise, then maybe it is time to move on.

I have found this video by Ramit Sethi really useful for anyone who is underpaid.

Good luck on asking for your pay raises. Remember, always ask. The worst you can get is a no.