What is the best way to ask for a raise?

The approach to this often awkward question can actually be pretty black or white
Andrea Alexander, Technical Service and Development Manager, ShinEtsu Silicones of America, Inc.
Andrea Alexander, Technical Service and Development Manager, ShinEtsu Silicones of America, Inc.

The simplest answer is: don’t broach the subject emotionally, come prepared with data, and be black and white about it. The more complicated answer involves the “why”. Are you asking because your wage is below industry standard, doesn’t commensurate with your education/qualifications, or is it related to your job performance?

Current wage is below industry standard

Come prepared with regional and national data as it relates to your particular position, type of company, and level of experience. The American Chemical Society offers a useful salary calculator tool using a broad data set. I’ve used this myself, and it is helpful in stating your case while offering data from a reliable source.

It is important you consider your sources, because there are other tools that exist that are highly inaccurate and may hurt rather than help you (I’ve seen a few, and not only are they inaccurate, but there’s no reference to sources). Some companies may utilize said sources, so be prepared to defend your source, but at the same time, don’t focus on discrediting theirs (this can introduce emotions, which can easily sink the whole discussion).

Current wage doesn’t commensurate with education/qualifications

There are many reasons for accepting positions that may not particularly pay what we are worth, so if you are in that position, heavily consider how you broach the subject of pay. Your ship could be sunk before even departing on your negotiation voyage, or you bringing it up could be the cannon ball that sinks it. If it was a “foot in the door” type situation, and/or there was a promise to meet you at industry standard after a probationary period, this makes the discussion more straightforward. Again, be prepared with data in addition to reminding them of the terms agreed upon (ideally, it’s in writing, but I know that’s not always the case).

Request for raise based on job performance

If you have been in the position long enough to have a reasonable number of projects completed, innovated products developed/launched, patents submitted/granted, technical reports, etc.; basically, job duties that have been met and ideally exceeded, be prepared to discuss these accolades. If your company is structured in a way that outlines what is expected for each role, use this to your advantage. Make a chart that has the expectations, and list examples of what you have done under each point. If you are performing work outside of your job duties, include those as well! This may not only lead to a raise, but could also mean a promotion if you have met all of your current expectations and are performing at the next level (which you should also include examples of this).

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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