How Do I Ask for a Raise?


I’m currently at a point in my career where I would like to ask for a raise and/or more stock options (ideally both). I’ve heard extremely positive feedback from all my managers and peers and have been in my position for roughly a year.

I have a history of being notoriously bad at asking for anything for myself. I’m nervous to ask for anything extra because I don’t want to appear ungrateful. What is the best way to ask for a salary increase and/or additional stock options? Is it wise to ask for both at the same time?

Companies often do an employee review after a year. Whether your company does or does not do an annual review, arriving at the one-year mark is a completely appropriate time to have a check-in with your employer. This is an optimal moment for you to give feedback, set new goals and have a salary conversation.

Many people have a hard time discussing compensation — and generally, women find it particularly difficult. They often see it as a referendum on their value as a person. It’s not. It’s a business calculation, pure and simple.

An employer is considering many things when evaluating a particular compensation package:

  • How does this package fit into our overall compensation budget?
  • How does it compare with the compensation of the employee’s peers?
  • Is this an employee that we consider invaluable (maybe they have key client relationships or perform a unique role in the organization)?
  • What would it cost the company if we had to replace this employee (recruitment fees, training time and cost, the possibility of choosing the wrong person and having to start the process all over again) vs. the cost of increasing their salary?
  • Is this an employee we see growing and evolving with our organization?
  • Do we see this person as a future leader?

When approaching a compensation conversation, take some time to think it through from two different perspectives: Knowing what the employer is evaluating, what is the most compelling case you can make to them that addresses their issues? Then, take yourself and your emotions out of the equation and imagine you’re making the case for your most valuable team member — someone you believe the company cannot afford to lose. How would you build that case? What have they done that’s particularly valuable? What would happen if they left? What are the costs to the company of replacing them?

I find, it’s a much easier conversation to have if you imagine you’re having it on someone else’s behalf. Ultimately, you will need to think through and define what you really want — then ask for it — all of it. Be calm, measured and professional. Methodically make your case.

Best case, you’ll get all or most of what you’ve asked for, have a good indication of how valuable they think you are and come away with new goals they want you to achieve going forward.

Worst case, you’ll be turned down — which leaves you with two options: Ask for a clear explanation of what you have to achieve to get what you want — and by when. Or, if you find that you and your employer are on completely separate pages, be grateful that you discovered that now so you can make sound strategic choices about where your talents will be better appreciated.

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