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Published on April 16, 2019

The Savvy Employees Guide to Asking for a Raise

The Savvy Employees Guide to Asking for a Raise

“I know that if I work harder, my boss will notice and give me a raise.”

That’s what you tell yourself as you leave the office at 7 pm five days a week.

But, will your boss notice?

He might, but this will be a slow and painful process.

Most companies won’t go out of their way to notice great employees. It’s up to you to toot your own horn the right way.

I hate to break it to you. But, if you’ve worked at your position for over a year without a raise, you’re doing something wrong. Don’t worry, I’ve failed in the past and still continue to do so. Plus, asking for a raise isn’t easy.

It wasn’t that long ago when I was fresh out of college and clueless to how I’d negotiate my salary. Fortunately, I’d adopted habits that helped me get a raise. And, if these tactics have worked for me, I’m confident they’ll work for you too.

Ready to start making big bucks? If so, here’s your guide on how to ask for the raise you deserve.

Prepare Before Asking for a Raise

You’re feeling pumped. You’ve worked hard for over a year and know that you deserve a raise.

But, before you march into your boss’s office (or cubicle) do your homework. By this, I’m referring to doing some research on what your average salary is for your role.

Don’t overdo this–all you need is a ballpark estimate to what the average salary is in your industry. Go to sites like Glassdoor, Salary, and Payscale to get this information. Then type in your role or company name in their search bar.

Within a few minutes, you’ll have a rough idea for what you should be getting paid.

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Take a note for how big the gap is from the average salary and what you’re currently earning. If your salary is on the lower end, don’t worry, use this as your motivation to get paid better.

Be honest with yourself for what skills you’re offering to your employer. If you’re falling behind in any area, read a book or take a course to improve. Another option is to ask your boss for extra work to gain more experience.

Make it your priority to improve, so that you stay sharp with your skills.

Know the Value You Bring

If you’ve never negotiated your salary, I’m betting that it’ll be at the lower end of the industry average.

I know how frustrating this is because I’ve been there. I’d envy others who were getting paid more than I was–especially since I was working hard. But, having this type of mindset won’t do you any good.

If you’re unhappy with your current salary, it’s because you don’t know your worth. So, before you ask your boss for your raise, be clear on what value you bring to your employer.

To know where you stand, write down the relevant skills you bring to your team. For example, as a web designer, a valuable skill can be creating great logos. Write a list of 5 to 10 similar skills that can help you stand out.

Also, research what top skills are in demand for your current job and make improvements here. When you’re valuable, people will take notice. More importantly, knowing you’re valuable will help you negotiate your salary better.

Earn a Meeting with Your Boss

Do you get the “chills” randomly walking to your boss and asking for a raise?

You should because that’s a bad way to ask for something. Would you reach out to someone you’d met at a conference 6 months ago and out of the blue ask for a favor? I hope not.

They’d most likely turn you down. That’s because you haven’t earned the right to ask for a favor. Like this scenario, don’t randomly walk up to your boss asking for a raise.

Instead, work your way up. Ask your boss how he/she thinks you’re performing a few times each month. Then ask what’s needed for you to get a raise.

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Repeat this process until you’re confident with how to get a raise. This will put you in your boss’s mind when it’s time to give a raise.

Create Your Perfect Timing

Have you ever watched a movie where the character knew the perfect time to do something?

Take love stories for example, when the man knows the perfect time to ask a woman out. You hear the right music on the background during the perfect night. The reality is that in life, perfect times rarely exist.

This doesn’t mean that you should walk up to your boss tomorrow and ask for raise. Instead, be aware that the only perfect time that’ll exist is when you do your best to prepare.

Do some planning around where you’d ask your boss. If he/she travels a lot during certain months, avoid asking during this time. Pick a day and time that you know your boss will have the most availability.

Add a meeting to the calendar with your boss to discuss your promotion. This way you’ll avoid rushing and increase your odds at getting heard.

Increase Your Odds at Success Thinking like Your Boss

Knowing your customer doesn’t only apply for salespeople. The same concept applies to you–except think of your boss as your customer.

By doing this, you can expect what he/she will say to you. Then you can prepare for possible outcomes.

If your boss were to ask you why you deserve a raise, you wouldn’t fumble. You’d summarize 2 to 3 key points without hesitation.

Think of your top three possible scenarios based on what you know about your boss. Then record yourself discussing your top 3 scenarios.

Figure out Your Company’s Policies

Waiting each year for your raise is a huge mistake.

In case you’re wondering why–not all companies have the same policies for getting a raise. Some do a performance review on an annual basis, while others do so on a quarterly or semi-annual. To familiarize yourself with your company’s policies, check out their HR web portal.

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If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for, call your company’s HR department. Your goal should be to determine what’s the required timeframe to ask for a raise. Once you know this timeframe, you can prepare for the ask.

Level-Up Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a skill you need to master.

Why?

The last thing you’d want to do is getting upset if you don’t end up getting the raise you’d hope for. This would only make your situation awkward and less likely to get a future promotion.

Mastering your emotions allows you to collaborate with others better–increasing your odds for success.

Daniel Goleman argues in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ that emotional intelligence is as important as your IQ. Research shows that people who manage their emotions better perform better at school. Emotionally intelligent people are socially skilled, able to empathize with others better.

Improving your emotional intelligence isn’t easy. But, changing the way you perceive failure and manage stress will help you improve.

To take failure less personal, view it as a learning opportunity. This will help you learn from your mistakes and avoid making them twice.

To better manage your stress, start meditating.

I bet that you’re thinking meditation isn’t for you. After all, you’re not a monk who sits quietly in a room for hours. Meditation isn’t only for the selected few–it’s for everyone.

Even if you don’t know how to meditate, you can learn from apps or online videos. By practicing meditation enough you’ll eventually reap its benefits. Here’s a 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime.

Don’t Take Rejection Personally

You can be as prepared as possible and still fail. But, don’t take it personally.

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Often it’s because your company doesn’t have the budget to do so. While you can’t expect the unexpected, you can prepare for it. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you run off to your manager asking for a promotion:

  • How long can I hold off if I get rejected for a promotion?
  • How has my company been performing in the past year?
  • Do I deserve a promotion?

If you get rejected for a promotion, ask to revisit your performance within 3 to 6 months. Be sure to get details on what’s required to earn a promotion so that you can work towards it.

The worst case scenario is that your company isn’t willing to give you a promotion. If this is your scenario, find a way to escape this environment.

Get Paid the Money You Deserve

Imagine waking up each morning excited to perform your best at your job.

Your role didn’t change but for the first time, you felt heard by your manager. After 6 months of working hard, you got the raise you’d hoped for. The best part is that you didn’t have to stay in the office till 7 pm to earn it.

I know you wish that this scenario was your reality. It wasn’t that long ago when I was earning a low salary and afraid to ask for what I deserved. But, after trial and error, I managed to get many raises and switch careers.

Why am I telling you this? Because if I was able to get my raise, so can you. You’ll need to work harder than most people and make sacrifices along the way, but it’ll be worth the effort.

Except for this time, you’ll be working hard in the right areas. Think of this post as your mini-blueprint to getting the raise you deserve. Be honest with yourself and focus on improving in the areas you’re weakest. Before you know it, one day you’ll wake up working in a job you love getting paid what you deserve.

Bonus Resources

If you’re looking for extra tips to ask for a raise, this is a nice infographic to go through:[1]

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    Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Christopher Alarcon

    Content Marketer and Finance Analyst

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

    In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

    5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

    Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

    1. Be Clear About the Objectives

    Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

    It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

    Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

    2. Keep Them Realistic

    It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

    It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

    3. Account for Inflation

    Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

    Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

    For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

    4. Short Term vs Long Term

    Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

    As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

    More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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    5. To Each to His Own

    The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

    It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

    By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

    11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

    Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

    • Ensuring healthy savings
    • Making smart investments

    You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

    Ensuring Healthy Savings

    Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

    This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

    1. Track Expenses

    The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

    Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

    2. Pay Yourself First

    Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

    Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

    The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

    Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

    3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

    Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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    Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

    At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

    Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

    You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

    4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

    Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

    If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

    Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

    All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

    5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

    In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

    Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

    Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

    If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

    If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

    So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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    6. Talk About It

    Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

    Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

    7. Maintain a Journal

    For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

    So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

    Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

    When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

    At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

    Making Smart Investments

    Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

    8. Consult a Financial Advisor

    Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

    Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

    9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

    Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

    Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

    Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

    It is here where that classification will help.

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    So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

    10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

    Einstein once remarked about compounding,

    Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

    So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    11. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

    If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

    Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

    As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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