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How to Ask for Bonuses, Salary Raises, and Promotions

Asking for raises, bonuses, and promotions can be one of the most stressful things you do at work. But to grow in your career, you need the courage to ask for what you deserve. You also need a realistic sense of your value to your organization.

Use these strategies to ensure that you’re rewarded fairly.

Do your homework

Before you ask for more money or a promotion, you need to prepare carefully for the conversation.

Know what you want before you walk in

Always go into a negotiation knowing precisely what you expect to get out of it. Never go into this type of meeting on a fishing expedition, hoping for more but leaving it up to your manager to decide the details.

If you’re after a promotion, research what gaps exist in your organization and how you can fill one of those gaps. Approach it as an opportunity to help your manager and your organization reach their goals. Make an argument that says, “Here’s what I can I do for you” rather than, “Here’s what I want.” Walk in with a detailed proposal you can leave behind.

If you want a raise or bonus, show your employer you deserve it, that having you stay at a higher salary will benefit them in the long run.

Use data to back up your case

Look back at your recent work and projects so you can tell your manager where you performed above what was expected. Provide details where possible. Ask yourself:

  • Has your work helped your company make more money?
  • Have your efforts helped your organization achieve its goals?
  • Do you perform better than the people around you?
  • Do your superiors know how well you perform?
  • How does your pay compare with industry standards?

Benchmark your salary

Use online tools to get a good sense of the salaries people typically make in your profession:

Most tools will provide a range of values based on your industry, experience, and location. It’s tempting to compare your income to the highest salaries in your field. Given your education and skills, your years of experience, the quality of your work, and the nature of your employer, think carefully about where you sit within the salary range.

Choose the right moment

Picking the right time to ask for a raise, bonus, or promotion can make a big difference in your success. Good opportunities to ask include:

  • Once you’ve finished an important and well-executed job
  • If your company has posted strong quarterly earnings
  • After you’ve taken on more responsibility
  • If you have a job offer from another organization
  • After you’ve been offered a promotion
  • If you’ve learned that you’re being underpaid

Your performance review is a built-in opportunity for you to discuss your career with your manager. Research the way your organization operates. Do they set a strict budget at a certain time of year? Is there flexibility regardless of the time of year? This may impact how you prepare for your review:

  • In some organizations, managers make their decisions about raises and bonuses before your performance review. In these cases, you should make your arguments—including a specific ask—well ahead of your performance review.
  • In other organizations, managers conduct performance reviews before making their decisions. In these cases, ask for a promotion or raise during or following a glowing performance review. Make sure you’re ready with your proposal and data.

Act the right way

Think carefully about the best ways to act when you meet with your manager to ask for more. Use a balance of these important traits:

  • Confidence. Your employer wants to see that you believe in yourself and the research you’ve done. If you show confidence in yourself, your employer is more likely to have confidence in you.
  • Gratitude. Express your gratitude for the opportunities you’ve already had with your organization. Your employer will read your gratitude as professional. Never complain about having been neglected or overlooked.
  • Enthusiasm. Sharing excitement for your future goals and for the future of your organization is a way to show you’re committed to doing your job well. If you show that you’re committed to staying with the organization, your employer is more likely to treat a raise or promotion as an investment in your shared future.
  • Thoroughness. Do as much research as you can. If you don’t get what you asked for, follow up. Ask your manager for feedback about your performance every few weeks or months. Ask what they would like to see from you to earn the bonus, raise, or promotion that you’re requesting. Show them you’re motivated to do well.

Know your worth

When you ask for more at work, emphasize your worth to the organization but don’t be reckless. If you threaten to quit without more pay or a promotion, you’d better be ready to find a new job.

Consider your position in the company and any events or changes on your team. Are your colleagues getting promotions? Are people quitting? If things are changing, it can be a great opportunity for you to let your boss know where you could best fit in.

Whether or not you get what you ask for, make sure you leave your meeting with a sense of what will happen down the road. If you can’t get the promotion or raise you want now, ask your boss when you can talk about it next. If you need more training or qualifications to be promoted, ask your boss how you can take steps to get those things.

Be ready to step up

If you get more money or a promotion, your manager will likely expect more and better work from you. Are you ready?

Be realistic about your value to the company and your ability to dig in and do more if you get what you ask for.

As daunting as it can be to ask for a promotion or more money, know that if you’re with a good organization, your manager will be glad you’re looking to grow. As long as you go in with the right attitude, you won’t get fired for asking for more. And if you don’t ask, you could be hurting your chance to advance your career.

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