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If you want to make more money, the best place to try to do that is at work. Side hustles and small businesses are great, but your full-time job can be one of the most effective avenues for increasing your income.

Additional dollars can come from many sources, like commissions, bonuses and overtime. The most exciting infusion of cash, in my opinion, comes from getting a raise. The feeling of pride and recognition, as well as the increased income, can make your day (and your year) brighter.

You may feel hesitant to start the conversation about your raise. Perhaps you think that it’s an uncomfortable discussion to have or could upset your boss. In my experience, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you don’t ask, you may not get what you want.

Here are seven steps to asking for a raise.

Understand Your Goals

If you want to demonstrate your worth to your supervisor, you first need to understand what success means in your role. This understanding comes from knowing the goals associated with your position.

In some well-run companies, these goals are established in January. When that happens, you know where to apply your focus throughout the year.

You may be responsible for increasing sales revenue for XYZ client by year’s end. Or perhaps you’re responsible for decreasing third-party spending by 20% by year’s end. Whatever your goal is, make sure you understand it and ensure it isn’t too vague. This way, there will be no confusion on whether or not it was achieved.

If for some reason you don’t have goals set, sit down with your manager and ask for help to clearly define what success looks like in your role. After all, you can’t finish the marathon if there’s no finish line.

Go Above and Beyond

Now that you know your specific goals, map out a plan to accomplish them throughout the year. Your goals may seem overwhelming at first, but if you break them down into micro-goals, the challenge won’t seem so difficult.

Let’s say you have a sales target of $1,000,000 in net-new revenue by year’s end. First, break that number up by quarters. Now you’re left with $250,000 by the end of March. Not so bad.

How about per month? Only around $83,000 by the end of January. You get the idea. By breaking them down, complex goals become more feasible!

Hold yourself accountable to your larger goals and your micro-goals each and every day at work so you’re making the most of your time. Remember, when you crush these goals, your employer should recognize your efforts and reward you accordingly.

Write Down Your Accomplishments

When it comes to getting a raise, you need to be your best advocate. I know we’re told  throughout our lives not to brag, but this is the time to forget that advice.

Each time you do something incredible at work, jot it down. You can do this by modifying your résumé, updating your LinkedIn profile or simply keeping a notepad filled with your accomplishments.

This running list will come in handy when it’s time to ask for that raise.

Decide When You Should Ask 

There are good times to ask for a raise and bad times to ask. For example, the end of the quarter may be a bad time if the people in your company are stressing with last-minute sales figures. On the other end of the coin, you might want to ask for a raise just after your company wins a big piece of business and it’s growing (especially if you had something to do with the win)!

In some workplaces, there is a specific time of year for reviews; this may be the most opportune time for your request. This way, your supervisor will be prepared for a discussion like this and not caught off-guard. Try also to think when your supervisor would most appreciate a conversation like this. After all, your supervisor is going to be one of the main influencers in the decision.

All workplaces are different, so survey the landscape and determine the ideal timing for requesting the income bump. Timing is everything.

Determine How Much You Want

We’d all love a $100,000 raise, but that just may not be realistic. So, what is realistic?

Check out industry sites like Glassdoor or Salary.com. These sites help you determine the typical salary of similar positions in your area. That information can help you understand if you’re being underpaid in your role.

Also, if you have close relationships with family, friends or colleagues in a similar position, share your income situation and ask them to do the same with you. This type of information can be extremely helpful.  

Clearly Outline Your Request

Don’t just bust down the door and say, “Show me the money!” Keep a calm, cool and collected demeanor.

Start by crafting a letter and including the following:

  • A warm introduction expressing thanks for the opportunity to work on the team, etc.
  • Your specific contributions, awards, accolades and accomplishments throughout the year (don’t hold back on the self-promotion here)
  • A specific request for your salary or income increase (I’d recommend asking for a percentage instead of a dollar amount)
  • Close with more thanks and let your supervisor know how hard you’ll work next year

Here is an excellent sample letter to guide and inspire you.

Once you’ve completed your letter, set up a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your request in person. During this meeting, be confident in your request. If you’ve been meeting or exceeding expectations throughout the year, this is your time to express your contribution to your supervisor and ask for what you deserve.

At the conclusion of your meeting, hand your supervisor the letter and follow up with an email version. You want to cover all your bases just in case senior management needs to be involved in your request.

Follow Up as Needed

Depending on the hierarchy of your organization, your supervisor may not be able to give you an answer right away. If that’s the case, allow some time to discuss your request with senior management to see if it’s feasible.

It’s completely OK to ask when a good time would be to follow up. This way, your manager knows you’re serious about your salary increase request and how important it is to you.

This process could also help you decide whether to stay or go. Hopefully, you will get the raise you wanted. If you don’t, even after exceeding expectations, it may be time to look for a new opportunity.

What strategies have you found helpful in getting a raise? Please let us know in the comments below.

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