Let’s face it, asking for a raise is terrifying. Aking any big, job-altering questions to your superior can make anyone break out in a cold sweat. But for those with anxiety, it can feel like a death sentence. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
According to research released on Robert Half’s 2022 Salary Guide, 49% of workers feel underpaid. Women (52%) are more likely than men to feel shortchanged. So if you’re feeling this way, you’re clearly not alone.
Even if you’re as anxious as I am (which is insanely anxious), there are still plenty of ways to beat the anxiety and be insanely confident when asking the question. So here are expert-approved tips for asking for a raise, even if you’re anxious.
They Probably Won’t Hire New
Think about it, would they really go to all of the trouble to hiring someone new, rather than compromising with you? Mike Nemeroff, CEO & Co-Founder at Rush Order Tees, says, “If you’re nervous about negotiating a raise, just remind yourself that it’ll cost about 1/3rd of your annual salary to hire someone new if you leave. You’re probably not asking for a raise that large, so it’s in the company’s best interest to keep you aboard.”
Despite seeing so many job listings daily, they’re actually a very difficult part of any business to handle. Keep this in mind when you’re adhering all of the information for your pitch.
Practice With Friends
Like anything important in life, it’s good to practice. Whether it be with your friends or in front of a mirror, consider practicing a few times before the big day. Logan Mallory, Vice President at Motivosity says, “Practice asking for a raise with friends before you ask your manager. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel having the conversation with your manager. Each time you practice, you can work to make your argument stronger and ensure that you’re covering all your bases.”
Maria Juvakka, Founder of Chic Pursuit, gave some pointers for words to avoid, that honestly would save so many from messing up their speech. “Use confident language and avoid wording that shows weakness. Wording will play a big part in whether or not you get the raise. Avoid starting off with phrases like, “I just wanted to ask,” or “I was wondering if it would be possible to…?” These wordings will make your employer more likely to turn you down. Instead, say that you’re asking for a raise of X amount. Be specific in the amount and conditions.”
Now if you’re planning on asking in writing, you can practice that too. Niki J Yarnot, MSW and Career Coach at Wanderlust Careers added, “If you’re planning to ask in writing, be sure to have a friend or partner proofread before sending!” For the last one over, you can try software like Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or Hemingway Editor for any more grammatical mistakes. It’s saved me a million times before those last-minute edit sweeps, so I highly recommend it.
Remember: Your Skills Have Value
Something else to remember is that you were hired there for a reason. There is value in both your knowledge and skillset. So make sure you remind your boss about that. While I know standing your ground can be frightening (myself included), it’s necessary.
Yarnot added, “From the get-go, remind yourself that business is about the bottom line. While discussing finances and asking for a raise can feel uncomfortable in general, try to separate that personal/societal discomfort in your mind and put your business hat on. You’re not asking for a loan, or for anything that is not earned – your company charges for their services and goods, you charge for yours too.” She ended it with a simple, “As your abilities increase, your value to the company increases, and it is appropriate to ask that your compensation reflect that.”
Make A Plan
With anything big in life, especially in business, having a plan is everything. When I’ve been faced with a lot of information at once, or about to step into a stressful meeting, I like to prepare myself with lists.
When talking with Yarnot, she gave a few compelling questions to figure out before the big day:
- How long have you worked there?
- How have your skills and knowledge deepened or expanded in that time?
- What additional expertise and experience do you now bring to the table that is valuable?
Some other questions to ask yourself can be:
- What is my end goal (new salary or promotion)?
- What have I done that has helped with productivity, flow, or content within the past six months?
- How will this change benefit the company over time?
Nate Tsang, Founder & CEO of WallStreetZen, says “Consider yourself and your company in tandem, then show how more money (and responsibility) for you means better positioning for the business. With that kind of dual-thinking, you’re bound to come up with a reasonable strategy—otherwise, bide your time a bit for a new opportunity. You’ll have more confidence when you know the timing is right.”
When you answer these questions, you can start making your plan. With any plan, researching will do nothing but help your case.
Leanna Serras, CCO from Fragrance X, America’s largest fragrance outlet, says “You can bring up the topic of a raise easily if you have some data to rely on. Research the range for your position, from the low end to the high end, and don’t forget how your location impacts that. You might then use this as a jumping-off point for a raise, particularly if you’re being paid below the typical range. Or, if you’re on the higher end of the spectrum, consider what would be reasonable to ask for.”
Yarnot added, “Be aware that women often face added challenges when asking for a raise – being perceived as “aggressive” or negotiating “like a man.” Focusing not only on your merits and skills but also on the larger picture (ie. the value you bring to the company as a person, the ways you contribute to the community and company culture) may help get better results.”
So get over those gender stereotypes, get that research done, and show your boss how amazing you are.
Timing Is Everything
Unfortunately, you may have to be more patient than you’d prefer. Gracie Miller, Life Purpose & Career Coach, said, “Find out when your company is in the budget planning stages so that you ask before budgets have already been set. If you can, try to also ask for the raise prior to your annual review.”
Along with waiting for the budget planning stage, you have to be in the position long enough to ask. Brett Larkin, Founder, and CEO of the award-winning Uplifted Yoga, a globally renowned online yoga school say, “Obviously, you need to have been there long enough or had your current salary for long enough to consider whether it’s time to ask.” He added, “Consider also what time of the year it is. the end of the year is usually a good start.”
If You Don’t Get It
It’s a possibility. Always hope for the best, but expect the worst. And worst-case scenario, you may not get the raise for now. Nemeroff says, “If you don’t get the raise, ask: ‘Do you think I’m over-valuing myself?’” Before you question that question, take a moment. “It’s not like you’ll never deserve a raise. Get them to give you the actual actionable feedback you can use to improve. It may just be something you’ve already done that you just forgot to highlight in the initial ask.”
Laura Browne, author of the book “Increase Your Income: 7 Rules for Women Who Want to Make More Money at Work” says, “Prepare how you will respond if the answer is “maybe”. Be ready to ask some questions.
She raised some questions like:
- What information would be helpful for you to know?
- What would need to happen for me to get a raise?
- Why is that?
- What’s getting in the way?
- What would have to change?
While the venture may give you sweats and anxiety-inducing nightmares, it’s a necessity. You deserve to feel valued in your position, and if asking for this will make you feel that way, then don’t let your anxiety stop you from getting something you want.