Stop Losing Money: How to Ask for the Raise You Deserve

February 4, 2014

What is the number 1 item on everyone’s To Do list after starting a New Year?  I’ll give you a clue – it’s not going on a fad diet. It’s asking for a raise. People tend to push this off year after year. Either they’re afraid to ask, think one will magically appear or don’t believe they’re entitled to the additional salary.

I was recently asked to join the ABC World News Real Money team to help one woman finally ask her boss for her first raise. In preparation, I polled the Connect: Professional Women’s Group powered by Citi and received hundreds of responses from professionals who also needed help with this issue. Asking for a raise is like strengthening a muscle -- it's uncomfortable, but you need to build it. It’s important to get comfortable talking about money and exuding confidence.

how to get a raise

Follow the money trail: For starters, do you know how your company makes money? Sounds so simple but can you easily answer that question? What is your company's revenue model - is it subscriptions, ad revenue, web traffic, consumers - all of these? If you don't understand how your company makes money, you're not likely to comprehend how your contribution impacts the bottom line. You also need to know what you are doing to make money for your company.  You want to be able to directly attach the work you do to the profitability of the business. Hint: don't fool yourself; everyone has a role in the bottom line. Finally, there’s nothing like figuring out what you're getting paid by the hour to help give you the motivation to ask for that raise or get out.

Build your brand: Don't fool yourself into thinking just because you're not looking for a job you don't need to have an online brand. Fill in your LinkedIn Profile, join industry-based Groups, and start sharing interesting Updates. You want to get yourself noticed long before you go in for the raise conversation and at the very least have a presence for when your boss researches you before you sit down for the raise talk.

Forward your success: This is a critical strategy you need to get your head around and employ if you want to get anywhere in your career and fast. Find a message in your Inbox from anyone you work with congratulating you on a job well done (preferably someone who works outside of the company and even more preferably a client) and forward the message to your boss with a “I really enjoy working with ____”, or “Our team did a really great job with the client and thought you'd enjoy their feedback.” Disguise the "I want you to know I did a good job and you're not going to hear about it unless I tell you" message you're really sending.

Speak up: There's always the opportunity to take a new course to improve your skills but there's only one that will make a lifelong difference in your career. Sign up for a public speaking course. They're not just for professional public speakers. So often it's not what you say but how you say it and while for this raise conversation you are going to have to deliver the goods, doing so in a confident, clear and controlled manner will make all the difference.

Show up early: Be the early bird that gets the worm. Being one of the first through the door leaves an 'I'm here to work’ impression. You want to have a track record of early entrances /late departures prior to the ask. You want to be in the office when the power brokers are there and you're never going to know if you're the first one out the door and last one in.

Read up: Become well-versed in your industry by contributing to conversations online and off. In this day and age of electronic media there is no excuse for you to not have a handle on what's going down in your industry so that you can strike up a conversation and/or be able to participate in the water cooler conversation about the trending topics of the day. Check out LinkedIn Pulse during your commute to work out the latest industry news. Additionally, follow an industry Influencer on LinkedIn so you know the topics that are being discussed at the highest level.

After a full month of practicing these tips, it’s time to schedule a sit down with your boss. Remember, you’ll never get a raise if you don’t ask. Stop losing money and start believing that you’re worth more.

Are you planning on asking for a raise this year? If so, what’s stopping you? Share your comments with us on our LinkedIn Company Page or on Twitter @LinkedIn.