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So it’s time for a raise. Where do you start? How do you even know it’s time? What’s the best way to ask so you get what you want? Asking for a raise is something pretty much no one is comfortable with. It’s true that in the corporate world, men seem to have it easier than women when it comes to getting what they want, but that doesn’t mean asking for more money is ever simple. This is probably one of the most awkward and inorganic conversations you will ever have in the office, but there are ways to make it a little better and ensure you’re making the best case possible for your potential pay-increase. Here are the dos and don’ts of asking for a raise.

When should you ask for a raise?

There’s no hard and fast rule for when you should ask for a raise or how long to wait in between (although you don’t want to be asking for more money every month). The best way to know if it’s time for a little pay bump is when you feel you’ve bettered yourself as an employee and are working at a higher level than before. Maybe you took a course that’s helped with your performance or management. Maybe you just took on a significant number of new clients. If it seems like a bullet point for the list of ‘Reasons Why I deserve a Raise,’ then it probably is.

Another indicator would be time. If you’ve been working at a company for 20 years without a pay-increase, you could probably ask for a raise. Between the dedication you’ve proven and inflation, you deserve it.

How do I know how much to ask for?

That’s a tricky one because no one wants to talk about their salary around the office (or anywhere for that matter). While there is contemporary research on how sharing our salaries with our coworkers is actually beneficial to all employees and gives you more leverage when negotiating, our traditional business courtesies typically don’t allow for it yet. So how do we know how much we should be making?

Google it. Be specific and thorough with your research to make sure you have the most accurate information. Look up your specific job in your country and province, even at your company if that’s possible. Also–and this probably goes without saying, but we want you to be sure–make sure the estimate you find is in Canadian dollars.

Know why you’re asking

If you’ve decided now is the time for a raise, you probably have your reasons, but you need to make sure they are clear, concise and tangible. Write them out in bullet form for clarity and so they’re easier to memorize and repeat. And you should definitely practice what you’re going to say beforehand. It might feel silly, but you’ll wish you had practiced when your boss is looking at you quizzically from across her desk and you’ve forgotten all your qualifications and your own first name. Make it simple for yourself and boil it down to a few main bullet points for why you’re the best and why you should be paid more for it.

Remember: this is a discussion

Don’t go in there to timidly ask if you might, possibly, maybe, at some point, if it’s convenient, get a raise. You’re there to discuss your qualifications and accomplishments with your boss and ask to be paid more for them. Also let it be give and take though. Yes, you’ve rehearsed what you’re going to say, but don’t just repeat your points like they’re the only words you know. Have a conversation.

Go in with intention and confidence

It’s true that the most important thing when asking for a raise is your confidence. You’re there to prove exactly what you’ve done to deserve more money and that’s no easy task. That conversation may make you want to curl up into a little ball under your desk until lunchtime, but you can’t let anyone else know that. Don’t tiptoe around what you want and don’t underplay your self-worth. This is the time to humbly brag about your own accomplishments. You deserve this, so tell–and show–your boss why.

Don’t bring up your colleagues

Whatever you do, don’t bring up what your colleagues make or the fact that you do more work than them. It weakens your argument and makes you look like a person who points fingers instead of owning themselves. You can get this raise on your own merit, you don’t need to point to your coworkers. They don’t matter in this conversation; we’re talking about you.

Now, good luck asking for that raise. Just remain calm. You got this.

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