Year end performance reviews are coming up. If you want to ask for a raise but don’t know what to say or how to say it, follow these three steps to get clarity and create your own personalized script to ask for it.
Step 1: Make your case.
You need three elements to make a strong case for why you deserve a raise:
Value you’ve created for your team or company: Think bigger when it comes to value; it doesn’t necessarily have to mean sales or revenue. Value you’ve created could be launching a new initiative, bringing on a new partner or inventing a new campaign. Do quantify this if at all possible, whether in terms of dollars, number of people impacted, or any other relevant metric, but know that value doesn’t always mean money.
Value you’ve saved for your team or company: Again, value you’ve saved could mean financial savings, or it could mean increased efficiencies. If someone on your team left and you’ve been taking on their projects rather than filling the position, there’s an example of value you’ve saved.
Finally, be able to identify and articulate your superpowers: the strengths that come to you effortlessly and naturally. If this is challenging for you, think of Wonder Woman: we don’t ask where her superhuman strength comes from — she’s a superhero! She doesn’t have to justify it. What are the qualities come to you easily and allow you to make big contributions? If you’re not sure, ask a few trusted friends or colleagues.
Step 2: Do the right research.
How will you know what to ask for if you don’t do some benchmarking? Your goal should be to get data points from both inside your own company and more broadly, in your industry.
You can start your research online using websites like Glassdoor, PayScale and Salary.com, but you need to go further to get really useful information. Make it a priority to speak to half a dozen people: three men and three women. (If the numbers you hear from men are higher than the ones you hear from women, use the men’s numbers as your benchmark.)
Ask people who would know how much someone in your position typically makes. This could be your own colleagues, if you feel comfortable asking them, or someone who’s doing a similar job to you at another company, or even an industry mentor who hires people at your level.
Feeling tongue tied? Try this simple script:
“I’m doing research because I’m preparing to ask for a raise, and I think you have some knowledge that could help me. Would you be willing to share your ballpark salary with me?”
Or, if you’re asking a mentor whose salary isn’t relevant to your position (or if you’d prefer a softer option), try this version:
“I’m planning to ask for a raise of X%. Does that sound reasonable to you?”
Once you hear from a handful of people, you’ll have a good sense of what is fair and reasonable.
Step 3: Ask for it.
Don’t skip this important step. If you don’t ask for something specific, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Try using the phrase “I would like.” It can be as straightforward as, “I would like a raise of X% this year.”
“I would like” is great because it’s not as aggressive as “I want,” “I need,” or “I deserve.” It’s also not too timid.
Grab that trusted friend or colleague who helped you identify your superpowers, and ask them to do a little practicing with you. If you’ve never asked for a raise before, you don’t want to choke on your words at the critical moment. Repeating your request out loud is an easy and effective way to give yourself the best chance of success.
This post originally appeared in Women@Forbes, where Alexandra Dickinson is a contributor. She writes about how to use a negotiation mindset to achieve your goals.