How to ask for a raise when working remotely

10 min read

Man and woman shaking hands

Working in a remote job gives you a lot of freedom. But at some point, you might ask yourself if your employer compensates you fairly. Often, there is some room for improvement. That's not a bad thing. Quite the opposite, it's a good thing. It's your chance to ask for a raise.

However, asking for a raise isn't easy. It is an extensive and delicate process. It might feel uncomfortable. You might also fear that if your manager denies a pay raise, it leaves you in an awkward spot. These are very valid concerns — especially when working remotely, where you might be more disconnected from your manager.

If you think it's time to ask for a raise, we've prepared a checklist that should help you evaluate your situation and make the most of it.

1. Evaluate the situation of your company

Put your salary in perspective by looking at the company for which you're working. If your company is doing well, that's great. Maybe it recently won a big contract, got a large investment, or hit a significant milestone. If so, it is the perfect opportunity to ask for a bigger paycheck.

Then, if you're working remotely, there is a high chance that your co-workers live in regions different from yours. Suppose you earn less because you live in a low-income area of the world but have a similar output to your co-workers. In that case, it makes economic sense for the company to increase your paycheck instead of letting you go.

2. Know your market value

Knowing your market value is critical. Familiarize yourself with the median pay for the position and field you work in. Websites like Glassdoor and PayScale can help you with your research. It takes some effort, but it is an investment well worth your time, considering that thoroughly researched data can be a great argument.

Having salary data is a good starting point, but we're individuals, after all. How do your background and contribution justify a salary different from the median wage? Think about the things you have accomplished for your current and past employers. Maybe you've significantly contributed to an important goal. Or perhaps you've helped your company to take in greater profits by improving a product or growing the client base. Maybe you have a unique skill that makes you hard to replace. Preparing a list of professional accomplishments will help you a lot.

3. Prepare your selling points

Excellent preparation is essential and can make a few thousand Dollar difference every year when you negotiate or renegotiate your salary. Below is a checklist that will help you in this process.

Research your target salary.

In your preparation, you should research at least three numbers. Your current salary, including all bonuses. The target salary is the compensation you want to get after asking for a raise. And finally, an anchor point salary, the salary you ask for when starting your negotiation. The target salary should be realistic and based on your research. It is critical to have an exact number here.

Fix an anchor point salary.

Likely, your manager won't just say yes to your initial number. More often than not, they will say that they can't match your salary expectations but offer a smaller raise than the raise that you've asked for. Therefore, it is crucial to initially ask for a pay increase above what you can expect. This is your anchor point salary. The point here is to set an anchor point for further negotiations.

Prepare a list of alternative perks.

If you demand a salary that is way too high, your manager might think that you two are too far apart. To set an anchor point that isn't out of the window, you can add alternative perks. Think about what is important to you besides your salary? More flexible working hours, free weekends, and paid training are only a few examples that can help you start thinking about alternative perks. Maybe you don't end up with a bigger paycheck, but other perks. Make sure you ask for things you'd really find valuable.

Prepare a list of professional accomplishments and skills.

Your manager needs a reason to justify your raise. Even if your manager is the CEO of your company, he might need to explain his decision to investors. Be prepared and help them to justify a raise. Objectively, one of the best things you can do is to share a list of professional accomplishments with your manager. But not only your past achievements are of importance. By highlighting which (unique) skills you have, you can illustrate what you can contribute to your company's success in the future.

4. Practice your pitch

A good pitch needs practice. Communicating your reasons why the time for a bigger paycheck has come won't be perfect the first time. Ideally, you have someone who can play the role of your manager. Alternatively, you can record your voice and body language with your smartphone. Then imagine how your counterpart might react. This might sound like a whole lot of effort, but this can make a huge difference on your paycheck each month.

Make sure that

  • you don't undersell yourself or apologize for your request
  • you stay calm and professional
  • you keep a positive attitude emphasizing that both parties win if you're a committed employee that is in for the long run.

Additionally, you might want to look at negotiation techniques such as Ackerman bargaining.

5. Ask when the timing is right

Now that you're prepared, you have to be patient. This is probably the most challenging part. But suppose you wait until your company hit a bit milestone, collected an investment, or until you personally accomplished something significant for your company. In that case, it can increase your odds for a bigger paycheck by a lot.

Pick a date when your supervisor is in a good mood. Ask directly and with confidence. When you're working remotely, you might not be able to ask your manager in a face-to-face meeting. Maybe your company has a yearly retreat, which would make an excellent opportunity to ask. Otherwise, use video chat or at least a phone call to establish a personal connection. The advantage over asking by posting a message in a Slack channel is that your request will have much more momentum and power.

6. Let them time to consider

After you've asked for a raise, more patience is necessary. You do not want to press your manager for an offer by the end of your meeting. This might work sometimes. More often than not, however, this will backfire and leave one party with the feeling that they've been overrun. A situation where you and your employer find your salary fair is much preferable.

In the hours and days after asking for a pay raise, make sure you follow-up. Thank your manager for their time and their input regarding the wage increase. Talking about a raise can add tension to your work relationship. Kind follow-ups without being demanding or pushy help you to navigate this situation.

7. If you don't get the raise

Not always, you'll end up with a bigger paycheck. Maybe you will walk away with additional perks. Maybe with nothing. That is fine. If you would get a pay increase every time you ask, you'd be asking far too rarely. This does not mean that you are not worth the salary you asked for. It can mean that your timing is off, that your company's finances don't align with your request, or that your manager hasn't the right perspective on your work yet.

In any case, take the chance and learn why your manager thinks you're not ready for a raise. It will make an excellent foundation for any future discussion if you know the why. You can then work towards this goal. If the situation has changed, you can comfortably ask again.

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