How to Have the Conversation: “I would like a Raise”

By Jennifer Evans, Executive Legal Recruiter & Career Coach

In my last post, I discussed how to prepare when considering to ask for a pay raise. Now, I’d like to take on the more difficult subject – Having the actual conversation.

Negotiating a higher salary is certainly not easy for most of us. However, if done correctly, it can have a positive impact on your professional career. In successful negotiations, there are several factors to consider: knowing what you want (see last month’s post), timing, preparation, understanding your audience, and being flexible.

If you think you are ready to step forward and ask for a raise, below are some suggestions that may help:

Determine the Right Time

Knowing the right time to approach the conversation can make a significant impact on the outcome. My personal preference is 1-3 months before your next review. This way, you can position your request in a way that allows your employer enough time to analyze the situation and come up with possible solutions to accommodate your request.

Also, consider the “chatter” you are hearing. Is the organization doing well? Have you seen an increase in business? Be sensitive to the internal and external factors that are influencing the firm.

No Blindsiding Allowed

Most of us do not like surprises. Approaching your boss with an unplanned raise conversation, in my opinion, is not the best idea. I recommend making a formal request for a meeting informing him/her what you want to talk about – a hint of what’s coming. This will allow your boss to prepare for the conversation and to be more receptive to the discussion.  

Role Play

The best communicators prepare and practice before entering into a negotiation. Prepare yourself by practicing the tough questions your boss is likely to ask. Your boss might respond with– Why do you want a pay raise? How much do you want? And, what qualifies you for the amount you are asking?

It’s important to consider the mindset of your boss when role playing; to consider his/her background, temperament, and expectations, so you can formulate better answers to challenging questions. Work with a Career Coach, or someone you trust, to help you prepare for the variety of responses you may receive. 

Request, Not Demand

All your homework and research will go in vain if you enter the conversation with an inappropriate attitude. Attitude can be the game changer.  Remember that asking for a raise is a request – it should never be perceived as a demand or an ultimatum.

Present a logical argument in a polite manner and avoid emotional and irrational reasoning.  Once you have presented your case, listen to your boss’ opinion patiently.  It is important to process the information appropriately before responding.  Remain calm and avoid responding too quickly. 

Be Prepared to Hear No

Remember that your goal is not just to get a pay raise. It is also about positioning yourself within the organization and communicating that you believe you offer more value. There could be several organizational or financial factors that may prevent the firm from accommodating your request.  Listen, be open, and be prepared to offer some alternative solutions.  

Show Flexibility

What if we try this? Preparing some creative alternatives that could benefit both parties can keep the conversation optimistic. This can allow room for exploring other options that might interest you. While sticking to one point may seem demanding and threatening, showing a certain degree of flexibility can place you in a better career position. 

If you are a legal professional and you would like additional career coaching on this subject, please contact Jennifer Evans using the Contact Us form to the left.