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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Money

The Best Reasons to Ask for a Raise, According to Real, Live Bosses

person asking for a raise courtesy FangXiaNuo/Getty Images

If there’s one thing that brings fear and anxiety to employees everywhere, it’s the thought of sitting down with the boss and, drumroll, please…asking for a raise.

What if your manager says no? Laughs in your face? Claims there’s no budget for it? Or, worse, puts you on the spot and says, “Tell me why you think you deserve it.”

Of course, in an ideal scenario, you can support your ask with a list of accomplishments and pages of achievements. In fact, I wouldn’t walk into this kind of meeting without it. You can point to this, that, or the other thing. And in a perfect world—er, workplace—your boss will look you in the eye and say, “Sounds good to me. Let’s get you more money ASAP.”

Ha, if only! But, actually. If you’re due a pay increase and you are excelling in your role, it’s highly unlikely your request will draw scoffs from your boss. A recent survey from Paysa, a company dedicated to helping people understand salaries better, has intel from managers on the best—and worst—reasons to ask for a raise. The number one best reason probably won’t surprise anyone: “You are doing excellent work.” Second to that is, “You are being asked to take on more difficult tasks at work.”

Now, depending on your role and the type of company (is it a startup that expects you to wear a bunch of different hats or go with the flow as needed), that second reason may not necessarily get you the bump you believe you deserve, but it’s worth asking. If you’re being paid less than others in the same field, well, 17% of managers surveyed cited that as a fine reason to bring up your salary.

At the bottom of the list? You dislike your job. If this is the case and you haven’t exactly done a good job of hiding it, you can bet your boss isn’t going to think lavishing you with cash is the reward. In addition, saying that your employer can afford it also isn’t a good reason to ask for more money.

Last, but not least, your personal financial hardship definitely shouldn’t come up either. While it’s understandable that your concern with paying bills is stressing you out, it’s simply not a solid reason that says you “deserve” a raise.

The truth is that you really shouldn’t be asking for more money if you can’t back up your request. But if you have confidence in your performance and knowledge that you’re kicking butt, and going above and beyond, then you really should know how to ask for a raise in a way that ensures you get it.

Even if it’s not on the table the moment after you ask, if you believe in yourself and your abilities, know that you did the right thing by inquiring. At the end of the day, not negotiating for what you deserve will only cause you to come up short.

Want more help preparing? Consider speaking with a career coach who specializes in these awkward salary conversations.