How To Ask for A Year-End Raise or Bonus.

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stackofmoneywithbowIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s because the holiday season can inspire a boss who is normally a Grinch to loosen his purse strings for a year end bonus or raise. Of course, it’s not good form to simply show up with your hand out. Instead, be thoughtful about the company’s performance over the past year – and how you contributed. Remember that time is of the essence! If your company is hammering out budgets for the upcoming year, you want to get that request in before they close the books. So without further ado, here’s a brief guide to your year-end negotiations.

  1. Decide whether to negotiate a bonus or a raise. It’s possible you’ll land both, but the odds of success are higher if you pick and stay in one lane. Bonuses are the way to go if you had a standout year at your company in terms of performance or sales. They’re a bit easier for a company to swallow over a raise because it’s typically perceived as a one time, fixed expense. However, a raise is certainly warranted if the scope of your responsibilities has significantly increased over the past year. If that’s the situation, get ready to make your case!
  2. Keep your argument simple. I deserve this raise (or bonus) because of the following major contributions. All of these contributions should be results oriented, and market oriented. Advocate for yourself based on your work, and be prepared with data to back any claims that the salary at your company is below market value.
  3. Prepare for pushback. Most companies aren’t prepared to shell out extra bucks just because you asked. If you encounter resistance, ask for details regarding why they are unable or unwilling to provide additional compensation. At least, you can then continue to advocate on your behalf. Maybe your employer can’t afford a bonus or raise, but they might willing to provide additional vacation time or tuition reimbursement.
  4. Timing may not be everything, but it’s pretty darn important. Don’t spring a request for more money on your boss over drinks at the company’s holiday party. As a matter of fact, eliminate the element of surprise altogether. Schedule a day and time when you have your boss’ full attention, and preferably when he or she is likely to be in a good mood. That might be over coffee on a Tuesday morning on a day that’s free of other meetings. It’s probably not at 5:00PM on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
  5. Be persistent, and follow up. Push for a verbal agreement for more money during your first conversation, and request a next step so you have a reason to follow up. If you’re dealing with a larger company, you may want to set a specific deadline for HR notification. Then keep following up to make sure your raise or bonus is approved. Every week that your raise or bonus is delayed is another dollar out of your pocket.