Sure, you may deserve that raise, but that doesn’t mean it’s just waiting for you for the taking. A raise, as Aaron Gouveia points out in his article “9 Things You Should Never Say When Asking for a Raise” for Salary.com, after all means getting extra—getting beyond what your contract says you should receive. There is a crucial step between deserving that extra and receiving it. There is that little matter of asking for it.
It’s a delicate undertaking, as the countless who have crashed and burned at the negotiating table will tell you, the process of asking for a raise. Done correctly, it’s going to motivate your boss to gladly look past what the company is obligated to give you. Done incorrectly, it could mark you as a sniveling malcontent for the rest of your stay with your company.
So how should you ask for a raise? Better yet, how should you NOT ask for a raise? Here are some no-nos to steer you clear of negotiation trouble and drive up your chances of getting that boss-certified yes.
Don’t ask for a raise at a bad time. That may seem self-evident, but many still make the mistake of mistiming their request for a raise. Keep your ear to the ground before marching to the boss’ office. At minimum, make sure that your company isn’t in the middle of some crisis, no matter how minor or temporary. If, for instance, sales are faltering, it’s almost certainly not the best time to ask for a raise. And even if all the revenue streams were delivering, but your boss isn’t in the best of moods, it’s certainly a bad time to go asking. Timing is everything when asking for a raise.
Don’t tell a sob story. In almost all cases, a raise is granted on the basis of performance not on any other consideration—certainly not on some sob story. There is a tendency to inject a human dimension into a request for a raise—it’s basically an appeal after all—but it won’t work. It’s unprofessional and has nothing to do with your work accomplishments; any boss worth his or her salt will see it for what it is. If you’re planning on predicating your request on a sob story, don’t. It’s a bad idea that will only undermine your chances of getting a favorable response.
Don’t compare yourself with a coworker. Never compare your performance with that of a coworker when asking for a raise. Your accomplishments should speak for themselves. If you go in comparing yourself with others, you’ll only come off as petty and unprofessional. It just shows your readiness to throw someone under the bus. Focus on your own performance and achievements.
Don’t give an ultimatum. Not ever. An ultimatum is a threat and it will not sit well with anyone, not the least your boss. Even if you richly deserve a raise, appending an ultimatum to your request is simply guaranteeing that you won’t get your raise.
Don’t ask for too much. Fortune favors the bold, but in the four-cornered corporate world misfortune does dog the overly bold. When asking for a raise, make sure to calibrate your request against your professional accomplishments. Hitting all your targets in good time is really not enough reason for granting a raise—or a big raise for that matter; it’s just a minimum for keeping your job. Because a raise is essentially an extra, it equally requires extra achievements. So think twice about the raise you’re about to request. It’s easy to overestimate one’s worth to one’s organization.