5 Tips on How to Ask for a Raise and Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

Every month, as part of our Ari Agency Monthly Theme, we’ll interview an expert to help explore the big issues that matter to all of us in our work lives. This month’s theme: Tackling the Money Question.

As a recruiter, I often see people – whether it’s employees or job seekers – struggle a little bit with the challenge of asking for more money. It can definitely be an intimidating thing to do. There’s always that fear of rejection. But having the courage to tackle the money issue is an essential thing to learn for your career. It’s something thing you have to be able to do, because you deserve to make what you’re worth.

We here at Ari Agency want to see your valuable skills rewarded. So here are a few key tips I’ve shared with people over the years, that have helped them feel more confident about negotiating their salaries.

1. Know What You’re Worth

The most important rule when it comes to approaching your manager for a raise, or telling an interviewer your salary expectations, is this: you have to know what you’re worth. I think a big reason many people are afraid to tackle the money question is because they haven’t empowered themselves with that knowledge.

Yes, knowing what your expertise is worth is empowering. Look at it this way. If you find out that based on your skill set you’re actually being underpaid compared to others, isn’t that a pretty strong motivator to want to ask for more money? Who wants to willingly be paid less than they should be? That’s why it’s important to get out there and get a firm understanding of what you’re actually worth versus what you’re making. Now, you might be wondering: “How do I find that out?” Well…

2. Do Your Research

Before you even sit down with a manager or interviewer, you need to be proactive and take responsibility. Get out there and research what jobs pay what amount at what levels. You can do that in a few ways.

You could talk to recruiters. They are an invaluable resource because they have a great overview of jobs and salary ranges. You could also talk to other people in your industry. Leverage the people inside and outside your network by offering to buy them coffee and find out what salaries they’ve encountered. You can even just go to interviews for positions like yours (since you’re exploring your options anyway). They can do a great job of letting you get a feel for what the pay is in the market. If you tell an interviewer what you currently make and they say, “Wow, we pay more than that. Here’s what we offer” you’ve got yourself a good barometer to work with.

3. Talk to Your Manager
If it’s a raise you’re looking for in particular, don’t underestimate your best resource: your manager. Why not use your next performance review as an opportunity? Talk to your manager and express your interest in researching what your options are. Tell him or her, “I’m interested in making more money. How can I do that? What’s the salary range for the role I’m in? What’s the next level up look like?” But more importantly, managers cannot only tell you what the next career level up is, they can tell you how to get there. They can give you very specific performance expectations to hit to help not only get you that raise, but maybe even get a bigger one.

4. Go Into the Conversation With a Range

Okay, you now know what you’re worth. Now you need to figure out a salary range you’re happy with, and that you’d be comfortable talking about with a manager or interviewer. You want to go in with a range in mind, so you can say “Here’s what I’m looking for.” Be sure to choose numbers that both going to give you a bump up and are representative of your worth in the market. Because don’t forget managers and hiring managers know the market too and they’ll have a budget in mind. In other words, you want a number that’s both fair to you and to whoever you’re talking to. Your odds of success will be that much greater if you’re presenting a range that will make everyone happy.

5. Don’t Forget to Actually Make it a Conversation

It’s important to remember that in terms of job interviews, negotiating for a new job, or asking or a raise, it’s all about the conversation. You want to open up a dialogue, not make demands. It would be foolish to go in with the mindset of “I’m going to ask for a gigantic raise and see what they say.” Or say something like  “I want more money or I’m going to leave.” Be mature. Be honest. Be relaxed. Allow healthy back-and-forth to take place. Tell them what you make now and what you’re looking for. Because if you’re honest with them, they’ll be honest with you. As a result, healthy dialogues and negotiations can take place that will not just make the experience greater, but increase your potential for success too.