Turns out, asking for a raise is easier than most people realize.
In my college days, I did a writing internship to help my family financially. I wrote emails for a company that generated $2000+ per month in revenue. They paid me only $150 a month.
Although I was happy that my skill was bringing in monetary returns, I wasn’t quite satisfied with my salary. My boss used to appreciate me a lot, but he kept giving me more tasks while keeping the payment fixed. Any extra work meant I needed to extend my work hours for no extra money.
I had no time left for my hobbies or to take up other gigs to increase my income. I couldn’t even take out time for reading a book or upskilling myself.
It felt like the only option was to leave the job. But I didn’t want to do it as I really loved the networking opportunities it brought. The only issue was the money.
I felt trapped.
One day when I was home, my father asked me why I looked so frustrated. I told him about this whole work-money trap I was in, and nearly all the negatives I could think of about the company and how they are ruining my career.
He calmed me down and understood my situation. He said that since I’m generating $2000+ for them and they aren’t even paying me a tenth of what they made, I needed to ask for a pay raise!
Now, definitely… he was right. But to me, it was a herculean task.
You see, I wasn’t very comfortable talking about money. I had many fears like disappointing my boss or making him think I’m greedy. Or maybe he won’t like me asking for more money and fire me from the job.
If you’re also a working professional, you might be able to relate to my hesitation here. Studies show that nearly every employee thinks they are underpaid and every boss thinks they are overpaying. And that’s a regular tension that keeps ongoing between the two parties.
Many people try to escape this tension and start looking for extra gigs or a new job to increase their income. But you know what, asking for a pay raise can be a much faster and easier way to reach your monetary goal.
Let’s discuss how.
How Pay Raise Is the Easiest Way to Increase Your Income?
I told my father I’m really uncomfortable with money negotiations. Maybe I should just find an extra gig or a new job. But he stopped me. He said he too has experienced such confusion multiple times in his career of 35+ years, and the best way he could get his income increased was with a pay raise.
You don’t have to start from scratch
An extra gig, an extra client, a new job will always put you back to the starting point. You have to understand the new environment, the perspective of the new boss, and what the company expects from you.
In the current job, the momentum already exists.
For an increased pay raise, you can improve upon the momentum of your current work and give the company more value.
This will also save you from a need for extra gigs, which eats up your leisure time.
You don’t always have to keep searching
How long will you keep shifting and finding new jobs whenever you want more money?
You can only earn more money when you produce more value for your company, and this can be done only when you stay there for long enough and let your efforts compound.
When the company sees your efforts are bringing them returns, they will invest more in you by increasing your pay raise and rewarding you with promotions.
Let’s Weigh The Possibilities
It’s highly important for you to get comfortable with talking about money and salary negotiations. We’ll discuss the most effective way to negotiate later in this article, but first, let’s talk about what are the possibilities of win and lose here.
1. Your boss agrees on the first try
Yay! They assign you more responsibilities or a different role in exchange for higher pay. That’s great for your career progression.
2. They say a blunt NO
It might sound like “NO” is the worst that can happen because you have lost your chance for a hike. But that’s far from true.
Sometimes, “NO” will open up more opportunities than a “YES” can. You now know your current workplace won’t meet your salary expectations. That gives you space and clarity to either look for a new job or build a side hustle.
3. They haven’t said either yes or no
They are not sure whether you deserve a pay raise or how can it help the company.
This gives you space for negotiation. You have to make your boss feel it’s a win-win by increasing your salary because you’ll be more motivated and work with full focus.
Whatever happens, you never lose by asking for a raise. It sounds radical, but embrace the uncertainty and go for it.
Now that you are convinced to raise this topic, let us discuss the increase in your chances for a pay raise.
The Most Effective Way To Ask For A Pay Raise
The method that I’m going to discuss here is taken from my father’s experience of getting salary hikes, along with the concepts I learned in two of the best books on negotiation: Start with No by Jim Camp and Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss.
The concepts in the books apply to many areas of life, but I am specifically going to talk about salary negotiations.
1. Get the industrial salary data
Without collecting data and facts, you can’t negotiate.
You need to have some industrial level data of salaries people get for the same amount of work within the same industry and the same city. Don’t compare your salary with other cities as the cost of living plays a major role in salaries.
Find out if you’re really getting underpaid. Because in case you’re overpaid as per industry level, then getting into a salary negotiation can actually backfire.
Your boss might increase your workload and ask you to first justify the current income, and then, later on, come for the raise. So in case you’re overpaid, just enjoy the salary, you don’t have to do anything.
But if the industry data says you’re underpaid, that’s when you should initiate the negotiation with your boss.
2. Let your boss have the option to say “NO”
How you set the tone at the beginning of negotiation plays a huge role. You have to build rapport first and show optimism in the negotiation. The best way to do this is to give your boss an option to say no to you.
It might sound counterintuitive, but let me explain why it is important.
When you enter the negotiation, your boss starts thinking you’d make him say yes and you’d do anything it takes to make him agree. That would mean he would lose, and nobody wants to lose right?
If they feel cornered, they probably won’t listen to you. All they’d think of is how to put up objections to all your points and say no.
This won’t help you. So to get them to listen to you is to give them an option to say no.
Tell them right in the beginning, “Hey, I want to discuss my salary hike, and I’m fine even if you say no, but first please hear me out.”
This saves them a lot of thinking and they get into the space of listening to you. They now know even if they say no, it won’t hurt you as you allowed them to say no.
3. Identify the elephant in the room
An elephant is a problem or an issue that both you and your boss know about, but nobody is willing to talk about it explicitly. It’s necessary you identify these elephants and remove them. The best way to do it is to call it out.
Think about what mental blocks might be affecting your boss’s thinking. For example, they might think you’re greedy, or you want to pull out extra money from the company, or you are not happy with your current job and will leave if not given the demanded salary.
Once you identify these elephants, call them out one by one. You can say something like, “Hey I am looking for a pay raise, but I don’t want you to think I’m greedy. I really love working for this company and I won’t leave even if you say no to me, but first please hear let me share the full details.”
This frees up a lot of mental space for your boss. Once all the elephants are removed, you will have their undivided attention. This increases your possibility for a raise.
4. Use mirroring
Now that you’ve started putting up your points and stating the facts, your boss will come up with justifications. Listen to them very closely.
Let’s say they say, “Writers don’t get the hike before two years, only the tech and marketing team gets it.”
Then you can mirror their last few words, “Only tech and marketing team?” They will then start telling the reasons, and you keep mirroring them and get them to talk more.
This will get you more in-hand data which you can’t collect by any market research. Once you know the exact reason why your boss can’t given you the hike, start putting up your justifications there.
For example, you can say like “Writers are as important as tech and marketing team. If you won’t generate good content, your SEO will suffer, which will in turn affect the ROI of the business. Giving hike to writers will motivate them to create more effective and converting content, which is only going to help the company grow”.
In all your efforts, keep trying to position your hike as an investment into the company’s growth. Keep highlighting how it can help them, only then they will care to give you what you want.
5. Make them say “That’s Right”
Put the facts in a way that makes your boss agree. This will help create rapport and make your boss come on the same thinking plane as yours.
It doesn’t need to be related to your job, it can be anything that can make them say “that’s right”.
Agreeing even to general stats and anecdotes will release the tension in the room and your boss will start aligning with your thinking.
It’s that simple.
6. Polarize them with “No” instead of “Yes”
Researches have stated many times that loss aversion makes people want to escape harm than gain benefit. You can use that technique to your rescue here.
You can ask your boss these questions:
- Do you want me to lose motivation to work because I’m not getting any extra reward for my hard work?
- Do you not want me to grow in the company and let me provide more value to the organization?
- Do you want me to divide my focus on other gigs to increase my income, which can also hurt my performance in this company?
Your boss will answer no to all these questions. And once they say no, they have to take a decision to defend the decision to increase your salary.
But mind you, these questions are very hard-hitting, so don’t use them very early in the conversation. And definitely don’t use them bluntly. You have to somehow mix them within your talk.
7. Avoid the hard negotiation
Hard negotiation is the reason why people think negatively about asking for a salary raise. It gives a perception that going into negotiation means you need to harm someone for your benefit. This is a wrong perception.
A healthy negotiation is like a simple conversation where you try to create a win-win for both parties. You have to make the other party satisfied with the decision, else you won’t get what you want.
Monetary wins are an essential component of any job and I believe every employee has the right to think about their career growth. But asking for a well-deserved pay raise might be very uncomfortable and difficult for you. Your mind can come up with endless permutations and combinations and I am sure 99.9% of them will be negative.
You might think of changing jobs and getting extra gigs to improve your income, but the quickest and easiest way to reach your monetary goals is to get a pay raise. You have to be very methodical about your approach.
I hope this article has armed you with the necessary weapons and motivation to ask for raise you’ve been thinking a lot about but didn’t have the guts to ask.
Share it with all your friends who want to get salary hikes, and make sure don’t share it with your boss, else they’ll know about your methods and will be prepared to say you no.