She Spends' Guide to Getting That Raise: Part 1, Research

One of the biggest requests we've gotten from our readers is a guide to asking for a raise. We hear you! And we've got your back. Over the next three weeks, we'll be providing you with helpful tools for getting more money at work. We'd love for you to share how you do it on social media - tag us on Instagram and Twitter, or use the hashtag #howshesaves. We'll highlight some of our successful readers in the coming weeks. 

First and foremost, we need to arm ourselves with a ton of information. It's important to know your own history. Did you ever ask for a raise before? What benefits do you receive? Did your boss ever promise a raise, but forgot about it? It's also important to make a list of your achievements at your job. Bosses love to see your performance in numbers - if you increased a website's traffic, for example, figure out by what percentage and bring that to the negotiation table. 

Check out information about your company's average salaries, as well as its payment practices. Glassdoor can be a helpful tool for this, as can Fairy GodBoss. These sites can give you an idea of what your company has historically paid people in your role. If you want more of an idea of appropriate salary ranges, as well as how negotiations go, consider asking your peers at the office. This is a tactic you should approach with trepidation, because not everyone at work may be as empowered as you are in taking this step. Beyond these tools, find out what people in your industry make. Find three job listings you could easily fill and see what the salary ranges are. This gives you some leverage with your company because you can mention that at another employer, you could be making $x. 

Many companies have a protocol in place for asking for a raise. You may only be able to do it at your yearly review, which is fine. That more official process allows you and your boss to have time to discuss expectations. If you're not sure what the process is, ask your human resources department. They can help you figure out who to ask, and how exactly to ask them for more.

It's important to remember that a 5% to 10% raise is normal for most companies. If you want to see a big jump in what you get paid, consider heading to another company; it's the big job switches that guarantee big income boosts. 

With all of this in mind, create a list of things you plan to ask for. While you may settle on that 5% to 10% range, ask for extra money because your employer will likely negotiate it down. Some say to ask for as much as you can without laughing out loud. I like that advice, but I think a measured, research-backed approach, as outlined above, keeps me grounded when asking for more money. 

Beyond money, consider what benefits you could ask for. Sometimes a company cannot offer more money, but they can offer more paid time off, or to cover more benefits. You may want to consider asking to be allowed to work from home once a week or to have a longer lunch break. You could even ask for a new title. Tweaks like these allow your employer to give you something in exchange for performing well, even if they don't have the money to show it. 

Next week we'll cover scheduling the ask and how to prep in the days beforehand. But report back to us in the meantime with your research findings. Did you come across information that you're seriously underpaid? Or perhaps you have a new appreciation for your employer? Let us know by using the hashtag #howshesaves!

- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #15