Is there anything more intimidating than asking for a raise? It seems to combine a few of our most common workplace anxieties: talking about ourselves, talking about money and talking to our boss! For these reasons, some of us simply leave a job when we realize we’re being underpaid. It’s amazing what we’ll do to avoid an awkward conversation…

However, a drastic career change may not be necessary. If you’re happy with your job but unsatisfied with the compensation, there are smart and strategic ways to approach your boss about this. You’ll never know unless you try!

Read on for some signs that you deserve a pay rise and what you can do to make it happen.

Signs you need a pay rise

Money is a touchy topic in most workplaces. You may even find that your contract has a clause forbidding you from speaking about salary with your colleagues. Rumors still spread though, and you may have recently discovered that one of your peers is being paid more than you. This could be a sign that you too deserve an increase.

If the terms of your contracts are taboo in the office, try checking out Glassdoor’s tool to figure out what your professional peers are earning. If you’re earning less than the average salary for someone with your job in your area, you might be entitled to ask for a raise.

Do you have a mentor in your industry that you can consult? This impartial but experienced person could be perfectly placed to evaluate your compensation package. They can help you to assess whether you’re justified in requesting a higher salary right now or not.

Maybe your role has changed recently but your salary hasn’t changed in accordance. If you can show that you’ve taken on additional responsibilities or a more complex workload, your boss may agree that you have reasonable grounds for a pay rise.

Did your boss mention a raise a while ago? If you’re still waiting for them to take action, you may need to gently push the process along by asking about your promised salary increase.

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How to ask for a raise:

First of all, set a meeting. A busy dining hall isn’t the place to discuss contracts, and you’re unlikely to get a positive response if you approach them out of the blue with your pitch. Instead, fix a time in their schedule where you can enjoy their uninterrupted attention.

Before the meeting, do your research. Find out what professionals in your field are earning on average. Think about the work that you do and why you deserve a salary increase. Examine your contract in detail and decide what changes you’d like to be implemented.

Rehearsing your meeting is a great idea. Aim for a few practice runs with a friend or family member. If you can rehearse with your mentor, that’s even better. They can provide you with valuable feedback on how to improve your approach and convince your boss more effectively.

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Enter your meeting with a positive mindset. If you have a confrontational, aggressive attitude, your boss is likely to become defensive. This makes them less willing to hear you out and coolly consider your suggestions. Your request is rational, so express it in a rational tone.

Make sure you take evidence with you to the meeting. This might look like a comprehensive list of your responsibilities. It might look like a job posting by a rival company offering your job at a higher salary. Explain what has convinced you that a pay rise is justified in your case.

Although you shouldn’t be aggressive, you should definitely be assertive. Speak using positive language and don’t undercut what you’re saying with negating phrases like “maybe I’m wrong” or “I’m not sure, but…” Speak with confidence and clarity.

Don’t be shy about stating what you want. If your boss asks you what you believe a reasonable raise would be, answer honestly. The worst that can happen is your request is refused. If you have a range that you’d be willing to accept, always enter negotiations at the higher end.

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Some people think their request is more likely to be accepted if they tell their boss that they have another job offer on the table. They say this even if it isn’t true. Be careful! It’s just as possible that your boss calls your bluff and tells you to accept your imaginary job offer. Stick to the truth.

Know when to stop talking. When we are nervous, we often keep talking to alleviate tension, and we may end up talking ourselves out of our pay rise. Be prepared to tolerate an uncomfortable silence as your boss considers your pitch.

If your boss responds with “sorry, this isn’t possible right now,” don’t give up immediately. There are ways to persist politely. Use phrases like “from my research, the figure that I’m proposing seems reasonable” to keep the conversation going.

Sometimes, bosses aren’t willing or able to provide salary increases. You should enter the meeting with a backup plan. Would you be willing to accept increased holidays, for example? Or a more flexible working arrangement? This way, you shouldn’t leave the meeting without something to show for it.

It’s possible that the first meeting will end without a clear resolution. Your boss may need to get authorization from higher-ups, for example. They may ask for time to consider your request. Accept this, but schedule a follow-up meeting straight away. An appropriate response could be “that’s no problem. Let’s talk about this again on Monday? I’ll speak to your assistant and add another meeting to your calendar.”

Don’t forget to thank your boss for their time. You can ensure the meeting ends on a positive note by saying “I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me about my future in this company. As you know, I’m very committed to our shared vision, and I’m excited about continuing my career here.” This gently reminds your boss that there are good reasons to grant your raise!

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