Asking for a raise is no easy task. Be confident in your value, and prepare your argument with these steps.

You're good at your job and you like what you do. The only problem is you're simply not making as much money as you think you're worth. That's okay. There's a good chance that you're right.

It's always nerve-wracking to go to the boss and begin negotiating a raise. However, if you take these seven crucial steps before having that meeting, you can boost your confidence and your chances of getting the bump in pay that you deserve. Here's what to do to learn how to ask for a raise:

Step 1: Review company policy

Before negotiating a raise, take a little time to review your company's policy on raises. If your company has it clearly defined in the handbook that raises are only permitted during annual reviews, you know that you're in a bad spot. You can still go for it, but you'll have to address that issue directly and present a reason why your case is outside the scope of those guidelines.

Step 2: Consider your recent (and future) performance

Have you been killing it lately? Not just for a week or two, but have you put together a few months of work that is clearly above and beyond your established role? What do your colleagues think? If you have received kudos, awards, and compliments lately, log them and use them as evidence in your favor. If you really want to wow the boss, present your ideas of how your work is going to get even better and help the bottom line in the months to come. The more you can quantify your value to the company, the easier it will be for your boss to justify spending a little more on you.

Step 3: Research market data

So you feel like you are underpaid. Are you really? Learning how to ask for a raise means you need to know this before the big conversation. Check out websites like or to check out the market data and discover what your position typically earns. Don't overlook the market that you are in. Cost of living, competition for jobs, and market size all factor into the pay scale for your position. If you discover that you're already on the higher end of the pay scale for your job, you may need to consider other options. Perhaps there's a promotion waiting for you.

Step 4: Consider the timing

Negotiating a raise isn't about you. This is about the other factors at your workplace. How is your company doing as a whole? Are profits on an upswing? You want to make your request when the going is good. Asking for an increase in pay when things aren't going well for the company could be disastrous. You also want to consider the timing for your boss. If your boss is going through a difficult time, whether at the office or at home, you may want to wait until things relax a bit. Always aim for happy times when asking for that bump in pay.

Step 5: Prepare for the objections

When learning how to ask for a raise, It's time to think like a lawyer. If you are going to present your case as to why you deserve more money, you have to be ready for the opposing side to present reasons why they can say no. For instance, if they say “It's a bad economy right now,” but you know that your company's profits are way up, you can suggest that you are a big part of the reason that your company is defying the economy (but only if that's true).

The more prepared you are for negotiating a raise, the easier it will be for you to have a calm and rational conversation.

Step 6: Have a Plan B (and maybe C)

You've done your best, but a salary raise has been completely ruled out. Now what? Be prepared with other ideas that could make you happy. Would a few more days of vacation time work? Perhaps you could create some sort of bonus or incentive program with clearly defined objectives? Put some thought into what could make you happier at your job besides just a bump in pay. You may not end up with the raise you wanted, but you could still come out ahead.

Step 7: Be prepared for “no”

What if you don't get the raise and the boss doesn't go for plan B or C either? Are you prepared to update your resume and leave the company? Will you be okay with the status quo? You don't have to tell your boss what you're thinking, but you do need to have a plan because it's always a possibility. Think it through and be ready to follow through if that situation should happen.

Negotiating a pay raise is a tough thing to do. You have to be confident in your work and have the ability to sell the value that you bring to your company. The more prepared you are before you have that meeting, the better your chances of success. It's your career, go ahead and take charge of it!

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