How to Ask for a Raise Before Your Check-In or Review

You’d like a raise. Heck, you deserve a raise. Unfortunately, your annual performance review is months away. Do you wait until then to bring up your reasons to ask for a raise, or do you bite the bullet and ask for a promotion right now?

Yes, approaching management about increased pay can be nerve wracking, and asking for a raise outside of an annual performance review is unusual. Such requests do happen, however, and do get approved. Knowing how to ask for a promotion in a professional and prepared manner increases your chance of success.

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Reasons to Ask for a Raise

Before you arrange a meeting with your manager, take a long, critical look at your reasons for requesting a raise. What has motivated you to ask now, rather than waiting for your next check-in or performance review? Be professional when examining your reasons. “I need the money” may well be your primary motivation, but as a reason, that’s not going to fly far in a business environment.

Be brutally honest when amassing your reasons for a raise.

Possible reasons to ask for a raise outside of performance reviews include:

  • Your role within the company has expanded.
  • Your workload and job responsibilities have changed.
  • Changes to team structure have left you with additional responsibilities.
  • You’ve gone above and beyond employee expectations.
  • You just completed a major project.
  • You’re known for delivering consistently high-quality work.
  • You believe discrepancies in pay equity are at play.

Be brutally honest when amassing your reasons for a raise. Will your manager agree that you have exceeded expectations, or will he think you’re simply doing your job? Have your work responsibilities truly changed so much an earlier-than-normal raise is warranted? Looking at your work from the perspective of management helps when considering how to ask for a promotion.

Hidden Reasons to Ask for a Raise

Some reasons to ask for a raise are best played close to the chest. While discussions about pay are confidential in nature, office gossip is a powerful force: If someone else got a pay raise before yearly performance reviews, you’re likely to hear about it. Presuming the information is accurate, this tells you two things. One, funding’s available for raises, and two, management is willing to consider pay raise requests. You can’t approach management and request a raise based on scuttlebutt, but you can use such news to time when to make your own argument for a promotion.

If you’ve been the target of headhunters or recruiters recently, you may have reason to ask about an off-cycle promotion. Recruiting efforts suggest your skills are in demand. Don’t tell your boss you’re a recruitment target, as that’s considered unprofessional and has the potential to make the meeting confrontational. Instead, do some research on salary sites like GlassDoor to see how your pay ranks with people in similar positions and use this–along with examples of your accomplishments–as proof you deserve a raise.

Preparing for Your Meeting

Start working on how to ask for a promotion before you set a formal meeting with your manager. During this stage, you’re creating an environment where a positive answer is more likely.

Managers will be more willing to consider your request if your accomplishments are fresh on their minds.

Share any completed goals with your manager and ask for feedback. Managers will be more willing to consider your request if your accomplishments are fresh on their minds. Take on more responsibility if you can handle the extra workload, and discuss wins with coworkers and managers alike. Be subtle: You don’t want everyone in the office assuming your actions mean you want something.

Instead of going into your meeting cold, practice your pitch in front of a friend or family member. Try to anticipate any questions or objections your manager may have, and work on keeping your body language relaxed and confident.

Arrange the Meeting

Presenting your rationale for a raise is serious, and requires a formal meeting with your manager. No-one asks for a raise during a morning water-cooler conversation (at least not successfully). Contact your manager and ask to schedule a meeting so you can discuss your future with the company. Doing so makes it clear you’re requesting a productive discussion.

At the meeting, you’ll need to prove why you deserve the raise. Provide examples of your accomplishments and how they benefit the company. At the end of the meeting, no matter what your manager says, thank him for his time. It’s unlikely he will have a firm answer for you that day. Depending on how you read the room, it may be appropriate to ask what kind of timeline you can expect while you await his decision.

Playing the Waiting Game

Now comes the most difficult part of how to ask for a promotion: the waiting. Be sure to thank the manager again for their time when you get their decision.

Be aware that even if your manager agrees with you, you may still have to wait for the raise until your next performance review. Companies typically increase wages at yearend, so they can more accurately budget for the coming year. Learning you have to wait for your raise can be disappointing, but remember it’s still a win in the long run.

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Management may also opt to revisit your request during your performance review. If so, you haven’t lost anything by presenting your case, and the issue can be raised again at the appropriate time.