Tax season can often serve as a reminder of where you are in your financial career. If you happen to notice that several of your past tax returns list you at the same income level, it might be time to consider asking your boss for a raise. Before you start planning on how you’re going to spend that extra cash, though, there are a few essential steps you need to take. We spoke with career coaches and entrepreneurs to get their advice. Here’s what they had to offer:
Know your numbers
Before you even schedule that meeting, or head into that performance review, you need to know your numbers. Not only the number you’re asking for, but the number you’re at now. How can you get to that point?
Alan Guinn, managing director and CEO at the Guinn Consultancy Group, Inc., advises that the employee “prepare a plan prior to a discussion with his or her supervisor, which highlights the last raise received — both the level of compensation increase and the percentage that it represented.”
Once you’ve established where you’re at, and how long you’ve been there, formulate your request. “Make sure you’ve crunched the numbers. Know exactly how much money you want to start the negotiations with,” New York Times best-selling author Grant Cardone suggests. Growth Manager Jacob Shriar suggests using tools like GetRaised.com, PayScale.com and Glassdoor.com to find out what other individuals in your field are earning.
David Bakke of MoneyCrashers.com reminds eager employees, “Even though the recession is behind us for the most part, the average salary increase in 2014 is only expected to be approximately 3 percent. Factor that into the negotiations — if you walk in and ask for a 15 percent bump in pay, you may not have much luck.”
Prepare your reasons
Although your head may be full of personal reasons why you need and deserve a raise, you need to prepare a list of professional reasons why you deserve it. “Develop a list of bullets describing your accomplishments during the past two years. Demonstrate that you have gone ‘above and beyond’ in your position,” Career Management Coach Bettina Seidman suggests.
Certified Career Coach Cheryl E. Palmer also suggests asking yourself, “‘Have I increased my employability through an advanced degree or a certification?’ For many fields an advanced degree is becoming a necessity. Getting that degree can be a good reason for an employer to give you a raise and maybe even a promotion.”
Illustrate the benefits for the company
“What’s the benefit to the company in giving you a raise? You’d better know,” author Barry Maher warns. “And almost as important, you should able to show a benefit to your boss, the one who probably recommends (or doesn’t recommend) the raises. How is giving you more money going to advance the interests of the company and the interests of your boss?”
Grant Cardone recommends presenting suggestions of additional tasks and responsibilities that you can and would like to take on. “This is your opportunity to show creativity and that you are in tune with the organization, its needs, and how your skills can contribute,” he says.
Think about alternatives
If your company just isn’t in a financial state that would allow you to get the raise you’re seeking, think about possible alternatives you could propose instead. Request things like “equity ownership (stock or stock options award), transportation allowance, reimbursement to attend conferences or classes, or a new title that suggests an expanded role. If the company doesn’t have the financial resources, at the very least it can help position you to be more attractive to the outside world,” Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide” suggests.
If at first you don’t succeed… prepare for next time
“Of course, business being business, you’re not always going to get the raise you want,” Barry Maher notes. “When that happens, politely and respectfully ask your boss if you can sit down together and determine what specifically you need to do in order to earn the raise in the future. Try to work out deliverables that are as specific as possible and try to pin down a time frame. Take notes, let your boss see that you’re taking notes, and if possible work up something in writing you can both agree to. Ask for his or her help in achieving those deliverables. Then report your progress regularly. Once you’ve met those specific goals, it will be very difficult for your boss not to grant your raise, or at the very least fight for it.”
Recognize the risk
Unfortunately, asking for a raise could have negative consequences as well. Your boss’s opinion of you may change afterward, especially if your job performance isn’t as terrific as you’d thought and the raise is refused. Depending on how you handle the negotiations, you may come off as entitled or disrespectful. So it’s very important that before you head into your boss’s office, you consider carefully — and as objectively as possible — whether you’re really ready to take this step in your career.