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Facing Your Fear: How to Ask for a Raise When You're Underpaid


Asking for a raise can be uncomfortable for many of us. However, as I teach my children, if you don't ask the question, then the answer is always going to be no. If you want a raise and you feel like you've earned it, you need to ask for it. This is particularly true if you've taken on additional responsibilities but never been compensated for the additional value you're providing to the company.

Related post: Tips to Negotiate a Higher Starting Salary

Here are strategies for how to ask for a raise when you're underpaid: 

Know your company’s mission and goals.

Why is it essential to have a handle on your company's mission and goals? You’ll want to infuse them throughout your pitch for a higher wage. Show how the work you do aligns with your organization’s goals and mission.

Do your homework.

Knowing what the market rate is for your position is helpful when asking for a raise when you're underpaid. It costs companies a lot of money to bring on new employees and is generally cheaper for them to retain existing employees. Thus, if they want to keep their talent, they may need to close the wage gap if they're underpaying employees.

Related post: Tips to Negotiate a Higher Starting Salary

Write up your pitch.

If you are not sure what you will say to your supervisor when you ask for a raise, write it down. If all you need is a simple outline, that’s okay, too. Include in your pitch how you’ve saved the company money through streamlining a process, shortening work somehow, or re-designing a project or staffing issue.

As you prepare your pitch, remember that you are requesting a raise and not demanding one. Be sure to thank your supervisor for their time and consideration regardless of the outcome.

Once you've written it down, practice your pitch a few times so you will feel more confident when you meet with your supervisor. I recommend practicing with a friend or family member, but you can also record yourself and play it back so you can hear how you sound.

Practice until the pitch flows smoothly for you, and you no longer need to refer to your outline.

Make a list of your recent job accomplishments.

When you're discussing your accomplishments, be succinct, yet specific enough, so your boss will know what you’re talking about. You’ll need to spend some time on this point beforehand, and you might even have to look back through your schedule to see the projects you completed since your last raise.

Schedule time to meet.

Set up a formal meeting time with your boss. Do it in person, not by e-mail or phone and not when you run into each other at the water cooler. For example, you might say something like, “I’d like to meet with you for 30 minutes or so in the next week. What’s the best day and time for you?” Have your schedule with you so you can enter it right then. If she asks why state you want to meet about salary issues.

Keep the conversation between you and your supervisor.

Avoid discussing your salary issues with anyone else at work. It’s rarely a good plan. Keep in mind that companies operate on a budget, and there are limited funds allocated to pay salaries. 

It's okay if your boss can't give you an answer right away. She may need to review the budget and see what's available or make some adjustments. 

If you are denied a raise, remember that it may not have anything to do with your performance. It could be more related to the company's profitability at the time when you make the request. Keep the conversation open and see if you can get an idea of why you were denied. If it is due to your performance, set yourself up for success by asking what else you can do to increase the value you are providing to the company. If it has more to do with your timing, confirm if it would be appropriate to revisit the issue in three months or whatever timeframe makes sense.

If your request is successful, congratulations! Take time to celebrate your accomplishment but also remember to increase your savings every time you get a raise.

Related post: Tips to Negotiate a Higher Starting Salary

If you need additional support requesting your raise, join us for conversation in the Moms Managing Money Facebook Group. We're here to support you!

Other posts from our series on facing financial fears:

3 Tips to Overcoming Money Fears

How to Talk to Your Spouse About Money Problems

Afraid Money is Destroying Your Friendship? Here are 10 Do's & Don'ts

Face Your Fear: How to Start a Blog and Make Money

Don't Let Your Fear of Starting a Business Stop You