5 Ways to Ask for What You Want (and Get It)

What is it in your work environment that you’d like to improve?  A bigger office?  A more flexible schedule?  Better project assignments? A more generous salary?

All of these items are reasonable requests for a valuable employee, and ones that should be made over the course of time.

In fact, if you don’t make these requests, employers often assume that you’re happy with what you’ve got, and that you believe the compensation and benefits of being employed are fair.

Remember that you’re trading your time, your energy and your work product for a package. Is this exchange what you want?

It’s up to you to let others know if and when you want a change, what that change should be, and why you deserve it.

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Here’s how to bring up this conversation:

First, think about what it is you want. There may be a multitude of things, but prioritize your list in order of importance. Also, be ready to bargain one for another (at least initially). For example, let’s say you want a larger salary, but that’s not in the budget right now. Would you be willing to trade that request for more vacation days?

Second, think about what you’ve done to warrant such consideration. Are you simply wanting a more flexible schedule (and can show responsible work habits)?  Or is it something greater? What can you show that you bring to the table?  Have you saved the company money, do you have strong client relationships, are you a key team player?

Keep track of these things constantly, and be ready to show them. But more important, bring them up yourself regularly.

Third, consider if this benefit has been given to others. Look both within and outside your company. Sometimes, a company culture will warrant certain kinds of things, but not others.

What have coworkers – either within your department or outside – received that you would also like?

If you’re making an argument for a pay raise, for example, look up a salary schedule of those who are in similar circumstances. This does not have to be just your similar job title or type. What do you bring to the company, and how is that similar to other employees at a comparable company?

Be creative. A lot of us may not have the fancy title, but know that what we offer is truly advantageous for our employers. Don’t get stuck in the “if all x type jobs make y” if you really know you’re bringing much more than what’s normally expected of someone in your position.

Fourth, think about the proposition from the employer’s point of view. Pretend you own the company and decide – is it worth it to grant this kind of request? What are your concerns? What makes it worthwhile?

Really get into the mindset of the company and be ready to meet any concerns.

Finally, bring up the issue with your supervisor or boss. You may want to ask for it outright and make your case, or you may position it for the future.

For example, you could ask, “What would it take for me to…within the next six months?”

These kinds of discussions should be happening year round, and not just at review time.

As a final note:  In this economy, it may be scary to make these kinds of requests. But remember,  if you’re still there, it’s because you’re a valuable member of the team – even if it’s not monetary recompense, make sure you’re keeping the questions out there. 

Go out there, and get ready to ask for what you want and deserve!

Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.

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