How to Prepare to Ask for a Raise



Talking about money isn’t easy. Discussing what you make with your co-workers, asking your friends how much they pay in rent, or even figuring out how to split a restaurant bill—it creates tension. So if you’re wondering how to ask your boss for a raise, you’re probably feeling some pressure.

But considering that only 19% of U.S. employees feel comfortable with their salary—and nearly half report that they plan on asking for a raise this year—it’s a tension that’s important to overcome.

What can make that conversation easier? It’s all about preparation. By thinking through exactly how to ask for a promotion or raise—and gathering information to backup your request—you’ll be able to enter the conversation confidently. So before you head into your boss’s office, here are four ways to make sure you’re prepared.

Step 1: Gather Data


The first step is determining how your salary stacks up to what others are paid in your industry, the tasks you’re doing day to day, and the skills and accomplishments you’ve brought to your role.

Start by gathering as much data as you can. Websites such as Glassdoor, Payscale, and Salary.com allow you to input elements related to your job—including location, level of experience, and company—and dig into information about how your salary compares to those of individuals in similar roles.

However, keep in mind that the information on these websites is often submitted by users, so it’s still subjective. Rather than basing your research on any single data point, gather data from several sites and use it to identify a general benchmark for where you are—and where you could be.

You can also talk to people who’ve worked in similar roles. Rather than risking an uncomfortable conversation with your co-workers, however, try contacting people who are a few levels above you. For example, if you’re an associate manager, you might reach out to a director. Because those people have already moved up a position or two, they’ll likely be a little more comfortable talking about their past salary.

If you aren’t comfortable talking to someone you work with, try connecting with people at a similar company (e.g., if you work at Apple, try finding a contact at Google).

You can also ask about a salary range, rather than a specific number, which may make the request feel less intrusive. Ideally, your contacts will provide a $5,000-$10,000 range that you can compare to your current salary—and other information you gathered online—to narrow down your target number.

Step 2: Build Your Portfolio of Assets


Of course, getting a raise isn’t only about salary data. You also need to prove that your performance and accomplishments merit that number.

Start by gathering data about your recent performance, including lists of your accomplishments, results you’ve driven, stretch assignments you’ve taken on, and projects you’ve successfully completed. Also consider documenting the initial expectations for your role compared to how you’ve actually performed.

At this point, it doesn’t pay to be picky. You want as much evidence of your personal development and growth as possible right now; you can always narrow it down later.

Step 3: Prepare Your Pitch


Your portfolio of assets will help you determine what to say when asking for a raise in a broad sense, but your boss won’t ever have time to review every document in that folder. So before you approach your boss, you’ll need to refine your request a bit further.

Develop a 30- to 60-second pitch that highlights the most important points of your performance and summarizes why you deserve a raise. Like an elevator pitch, start by writing it out, then practice it.

Say it out loud in front of your mirror, then recite it to your friends or family and ask for feedback. By practicing it aloud, you’ll build your confidence for when you make the actual request.

Step 4: Anticipate Objections


It’s also helpful to think through the conversation beyond the initial pitch. What objections might your boss have? What reasons might he or she cite as to why you shouldn’t receive that raise?

You work with your manager every day, so put yourself in his or her shoes and imagine what he or she might say.You may not be able to anticipate every objection, but you can start to formulate potential responses in the case your boss tries to poke holes in your argument.

Stumped by a potential objection? Circle back to salary data and the professional accomplishments you gathered. When your request is based in fact, it becomes harder for someone to argue against. Sure, there may be reasons why your manager can’t give you a raise right away—based on the company’s budget or current business priorities—but by basing your request in facts and evidence, you’ll leave less room for the answer to be “no.”

With the right preparation—from verified salary data to a perfectly curated pitch—you’ll know exactly what to say when asking for a raise. That can help give you all the confidence you need to ask for what you’re worth.

Asking for a raise can be stressful, but you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re a SoFi member, sign up for a complimentary one-on-one session. We’ve partnered with Korn Ferry Advance to give you access to a professional career coaches, who can help you get ready for the conversation. Not a SoFi member yet? Head to SoFi.com to learn more.

No websites or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this offer. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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