How to Get a Raise Without Asking [7 Ways]

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To get a raise without asking, you must demonstrate higher value than what you’re being paid for by working as if you are already being paid more. Alongside working hard, you must also network with those who have the power to give you a raise, and make sure they remember your name and face.

In this article, we will go over how raises are given and the seven ways to get a raise with indirection including:

  • Exceed what’s expected from your role 
  • Walk the extra mile
  • Outperform your colleagues
  • Produce tangible high-quality results
  • Network with those in power
  • Be memorable while delivering value
  • Make your manager’s life easier

Why Raises Are Awarded in the First Place

You get a raise because your employer recognizes that the value you bring to the company has increased with your experience or additional efforts. It can also mean that the market value of your work (average competitor salary) has increased, and your employer wants to keep his turnover low.

In most cases, a raise remains proportional to the value you bring to the company. It cannot be equal to what you make your employer because then the business does not get paid for taking the necessary risks to provide for your predictable income. While the specifics might be less tangible, the overarching formula of a raise is as follows:

Employee raise = [Increase in employee value] – [increase in per-employee business risk to employer]

This is derived from the standard salary-setting formula, which is:

Employee salary = [employee value] – [employer reward for taking employment risk per employee]

The Two Ways to Get a Raise

Having established the conditions that precede a raise, let’s go over the only ways one gets a raise: by asking and by waiting. If a raise is in the cards, there is no third way to get one. Neither is inherently better and which one works better depends on one’s employer.

By Waiting and Receiving

This is a passive way to get a raise and is perfect for employees who rank high for agreeableness. It is one of the key traits on the big five personality traits test and reflects one’s tolerance for conflict. 

If you do not like to disagree with managers and even peers, you might want to apply the “wait and watch” strategy. But for this to result in a raise, your employer must be able to recognize your value and consider the possibility of you leaving for a higher-paying competitor.

By Asking

This is the most straightforward way to get a raise. While it does not explain the difference in income by gender, it strongly correlates higher male pay with men’s relatively higher tendency to directly demand one. 

A Harvard Business Review piece suggests that aside from asking for a raise less often, women ask for too little. Regardless of gender, if you feel like you might not ask what you know you deserve, you should probably get a raise without asking so you don’t sell yourself short.

How to Get a Raise Without Asking

Asking for a raise requires as much strategy and tact as getting a raise without asking. Since this post is dedicated to the art of indirection in receiving the income hike you deserve, we’ll focus on how you can get one without asking. That said, there must be a corresponding increase in the market value of your work, or the business might not be able to rationalize your raise.

1. Exceed Expectations for Your Role

The foundational step in getting a raise is to work as if you already have it. Think about it this way, when you got your first job, were you paid before you started working? In almost every instance, you work first, then receive your salary. 

Can you imagine the success rate you would have had at getting a job if your initial demand was, “Pay me upfront, or I will not do any work”? Your raise is payment for increased value. And if your experience, which comes with a lot more years than most employees assume, isn’t the cause of the raise, you have to do more than your role entails to start earning the raise you want.

2. Go Above and Beyond

While one way to deliver more value to your employer is to do work outside your job description, another is to do the same tasks, but better. When going above and beyond, you have to perform like someone who deserves a raise. In this, you must assume that you have eyes on you at all times. Even if this does not result in a raise, you have a much higher chance of getting a bonus.

3. Outperform All Your Peers

With the value side of getting a raise covered, we must look at the HR ground realities more pragmatically. If a company never gives a raise, you are not very likely to get a raise. And if it has a system for annual raises, you have competition. There are a finite number of raises, and your performance is judged not as much on its market value but on your value increase compared to that of your peers.

4. If Anyone Is Offered a Raise, Do What You Can to Make Sure It Is You

The sum-zero approach to getting a raise is to assume that only one person in your company (or department, if you’re in a large corporation) is going to get a raise, then start working to be that person. This entails exceeding the expectations of everyone, including your peers, direct reports, and seniors.

5. Produce the Highest Quality Work

Outperforming your peers doesn’t just happen on the effort side of the equation. It happens on the results side as well. In fact, the results matter more than your emotional investment, time logged, and the amount of hard work you do. You need to turn in work on time or before time and must have measurably better deliverables than your peers.

Network Your Way to a Raise

Finally, the most potent method of getting a raise with indirection is to network with those who have the power to give you a raise. This is not the same as “be a ‘yes man’ to your boss.” Most employees fall into the trap of their own assumptions.

Because they think connecting with superiors means flattering them and minimizing disagreements, they become invisible and interchangeable by adopting the same personality as everyone trying to “network with the boss/manager.”

6. Connect Personally and Be Memorable

When networking with a superior, you must get to know them while being mindful of how many people are trying to curry favor with them. If they see a rotating roster of faces, you should do what you can to make them remember your face and name in a positive manner. 

One of the best ways to stand apart positively is to do the opposite of whatever makes other “favor seekers” stick out negatively. Here are some of the common things people do when networking that are annoying to people in power:

  • Flattery – Direct flattery is obvious and patronizing. Subtle complements that are occasionally delivered have more of an impact. 
  • Being self-centered – Despite minimizing their personalities, most “yes men” are very obviously self-centered. Because they keep thinking about what they can get, they break rapport and cause their people to put up their “entourage barrier.” 

7. Add Value to Them and Make Their Lives Easier

You must network with people with the power to give you a raise way before you need one. It is okay to want one, but if you truly need a raise, you will not be able to connect in the selfless way required to have positive results. 

You must connect with them when you can afford to think about them first. Ask yourself how you can add value to projects that mean a lot to them and how you can make life easier for them.

Final Thoughts

Getting a raise without asking requires having a manager or employer who is aware of the market value of your work. As long as you deliver more than what you’re paid for, you will get a raise. If indirection doesn’t work, it is still a good first step because it gives you room to do more and document it, so when you ask for one, you have a good case to present to the person responsible for approving your raise.