If you follow Barbara Corcoran on social media, you've likely come across a variation on a recurring message: To earn more money, you need to get a raise. And to get a raise, you need to learn how to ask.
Coming from Corcoran, the New York real estate mogul and "Shark Tank" investor who has hired and sat across the negotiating desk from thousands of employees in her career, it's advice worth taking. It also raises the question: How exactly do you ask for a raise?
Corcoran shares with Grow her three-step process for getting a raise.
Before you ask for a pay hike, you need to make sure that you actually deserve one, Corcoran points out. "Who deserves a raise? It's the person who has taken on more responsibility," she says. "Here's what I came in doing, and here's what else I've taken on. That's the argument every boss will respond to."
The best time to ask for a raise is when you can show that growth. Evidence that you've grown in your position can take a variety of forms, career experts say. "It could be that you're closing extra deals, making more sales, and outperforming peers," says Angelina Darrisaw, CEO of professional coaching firm C-Suite Coach.
"Maybe you've gotten a new degree or added new skills," she adds. "Maybe you've noticed a pay gap between you and the industry standard. Those are also instances when you should bring up a raise."
Darrisaw recommends touching base with your superiors regularly to get an understanding of what goals they expect you to accomplish before they give you a raise. "Try to get that in writing," she says. "Talk to your manager and then follow up with an email with an overview of what was established in that conversation."
You can also keep a "kudos file" or "brag list," suggests Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. In it, you can record any new skill or responsibility in real time, whether it's training new employees, streamlining processes, hiking your sales figures, or receiving positive feedback from colleagues.
These steps can help you nail the timing of your ask, once you've accomplished the goals your managers have set out and perhaps even notched a big win or two.
But before you set up the meeting with your boss to make your ask, check one more timing element. "Find out when budgets are finalized and salaries are typically increased at your company," she says. "If the new fiscal year begins July 1 and you ask for a raise on June 1, you're probably too late."
Video by Mariam Abdallah
When it's time to make the ask for a pay increase, set up a meeting with your manager — preferably face-to-face, or over the phone if necessary, but never via email, Salemi says. That's when you will lay out the reasons you believe you deserve the bump.
Have a firm figure in mind, Corcoran says. "Once you asked for the raise, part B is asking for how much money you want," she says. "Every boss, me included, is going to give you less money than you asked for. And if you don't ask for a figure, you're going to get way less money, if at all."
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
To come up with a number, experts recommend doing market research on similar positions at other companies, using sites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor. "Reach out to former colleagues, companies within your industry, and the national organization for your profession, if there is one," says Salemi.
"You should also conduct an external job search to see what else is out there. Some postings may include salary ranges."
Don't worry about approaching the meeting with a high number in mind, says Darrisaw. "Eliminate that fear," she says. "Go in with what you feel comfortable with. If you feel you should be at the top of the range, have some counterpoints ready in case they come back toward the lower end of the range."
And you don't necessarily need to put an exact dollar figure on it, points out Brie Reynolds, career development manager at FlexJobs. "You may want to express it as a percentage increase, rather than from X amount to Y amount," she says. "Some managers may not even remember what you're currently making."
Anyone asking for a raise needs to have a plan in case the boss says no, says Corcoran. "Sometimes you will be turned away, but then you close the deal by asking, can I come back in a couple months? What else do I have to do to deserve a raise?"
In these cases, it's important to be gracious and not come across as combative, says Reynolds. "You might say, I'd love to hear more about your reasoning. What are some of the factors at play?" she says. "You can learn information for when you want to revisit the topic in six months."
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
Darrisaw recommends asking for a timeline of when a pay hike might be realistic. "Get an understanding of what it's going to take from you to get to where they want you to be," she says. "If you haven't previously documented these things, now is an opportunity to do it."
And if more money is not a realistic possibility right now, management may be willing to award you some extra perks to keep you happy, Darrisaw adds. "There are noncash ways to compensate employees," she says. "It could be tuition reimbursement dollars, matching contributions to charity, or extra paid time off. If they come back to you and aren't meeting your number, have some of that noncash compensation in mind."
More from Grow:
- ‘Shark Tank’ investor Barbara Corcoran recalls her ‘worst missed investment’: ‘If only I knew then what I know now!’
- Barbara Corcoran: Most entrepreneurs ‘never get out of the gate.’ Here are her 3 tips to build a successful business
- Career advisor and ‘Betting on You’ author: How to ask for a raise in 2021