Personal Development

How to Ask for a Raise (and Get It)

3 Articles Written

You want more money, and you’re confident you deserve it. Maybe you’ve taken on more responsibilities, closed some big deals, or have generally been exceeding expectations—whatever it is, you know your paycheck doesn’t match your efforts. But asking for a raise? That isn’t always so easy.

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Oftentimes, fortune favors those who are bold and willing bring up the uncomfortable questions. But if the thought of asking for a paycheck boost makes you a bit uncomfortable, these tips can help you prepare for what can be a very important conversation.

Do Your Research Beforehand

Before you even think about scheduling a meeting with your boss, it’s important to establish what your work is worth. That doesn’t mean polling your fellow employees—that rarely leads to anything good. However, it does mean looking outside of your organization to determine how much individuals with similar jobs working for similar size companies make (e.g., a mom and pop shop may have a hard time meeting the pay rates of a multi-billion-dollar company).

LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor, among others, all offer tools and databases that can help you determine how much others in your position and location are paid. You can use this data to get an indicator of where your current salary ranks and to determine a target salary to enter negotiations with.

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Consider Your Employer’s Raise Cycle & Salary Structure

Even if your boss agrees that you deserve a raise, they may not be able to give it to you right away. Many companies have operational budgets that control employee compensation. If your request falls in the beginning or middle of the budget cycle, your employer may not be able to honor your request. Asking at the wrong time can yield a hard no or require a follow-up conversation a few short months down the road.

Take note of your employer’s raise cycle and salary structure. If possible, schedule your meeting close to that time. What if you’re out of cycle? That doesn’t mean the answer will be no, but it may be something you want to keep in mind as you make your request and provide support for your argument.

Related: My No. 1 Productivity Tool May Surprise You

Focus on Your Performance Since Your Last Raise

There’s a reason most employers include a “commensurate with experience” clause in their position postings—experienced employees often perform better. If you can chart concrete examples of how your performance improved since your last raise or since you were hired, then you can begin to make a solid case as to why you deserve a higher rate.

Turn to key performance metrics as they relate to your specific position (e.g., sales, client acquisition, production, operational improvements and efficiencies, etc.) and leverage them to make your argument.

Deliver Your Argument Concisely and Suggest a New Salary

Even if you have an excellent case for why you need a raise, if you don’t present it well, you can end up with a resounding “no.” This isn’t the time to deliver an off-the-cuff speech or provide a well prepared but massive report outlining why you need more money.

As is the case with many types of workplace communication, your efforts should be concise, brief, and sprinkled with the most important data points. Briefly bring up the salary discussion, recap why you think you should be earning more, and then suggest a suitable rate.

Be Patient If You Hear “No”

Not every raise conversation will end with a resounding yes, but that doesn’t mean your voice hasn’t been heard. There are a variety of reasons an employer may deny your request. For instance, budgeting constraints can overpower even the most logical argument.

Obviously, it’s not wise to argue with your boss or quit in a rage, but it is within reason to ask for feedback. If it’s budgetary, you may simply want to revisit when the time is right. If the answer is based on performance, you may want to consider asking your boss or manager how you can improve and create goals that will set you up for success in the future.

It’s easy to dwell on the negative, but in this case, the best thing you can do is recognize that you’ve been heard and look toward the future—whatever that is and wherever it may take you.

Related: 3 Habits of Incredibly Lucky People (For Better Fortune in Business & Life!)

Understand That It’s Ordinary to Ask for More Money

Asking for a raise, even with an award-winning argument—can still be difficult for many people. But keep in mind that people do this every day, and if you fail to speak up, you run the risk of not only short-changing yourself but cultivating workplace resentment.

Employers expect their employees to ask for raises, and though it’s a huge discussion for you, it’s often a much less uncomfortable event for them. Don’t feel bad or weird about asking for what you feel you deserve. The worst you can hear is “no,” and if that’s the case, you’ll be better positioned to make moves in the future, whether it be with your current organization or a new one.

What other strategies have you heard about, read about, or employed with regard to asking for a raise? 

Share in the comment section below. 

Andrew is a content associate for LendEDU—a website that helps consumers, small business owners, real estate owners, and more with their finances. When he’s not w...
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    Jeanine Saunders Real Estate Agent from Gaithersburg, MD
    Replied about 1 year ago
    That is wonderful advice. Here in the DC MD and VA area I have found that most every employer looks at your education and degrees you have. If you have a degree, even with no experience, you can attain whatever job and pay you want, and to a certain extent it doesn't matter what degree you have. My issue is that most job postings will say a degree is preferred, but not required. If you have no degree, and you're told that you need a BA in order to get that position, which takes 4 years, or you need an MBA or Masters which can take 2 more years, then what is your option if you do not want to wait, and be stuck in the same position all those years to get a raise? Or if you don't have the money or means and support to pay the cost to get a degree, and you don't have the credit to qualify for student loans?
    Jeanine Saunders Real Estate Agent from Gaithersburg, MD
    Replied about 1 year ago
    One thing that wasn't mentioned here and that nobody ever mentions is ensuring that you are able to actually do the job well that earns the money you want to make. I've seen people fake it and bs their way to a higher position making more money, and they weren't able to handle the demands, or hours of the job and they didn't have the skills or knowledge to do the job. Or people that were promoted to managers, and they were horrible managers, and had little to no managerial skills. Being an effective and great manager requires an entirely different skillset from your day to day job duties. You have to have the skills to deal with people, issues, conflicts, and inspire people to greatness and do it very well. I've seen people get fired shortly after a promotion because they came up short on the skills or they were "horrible bosses." So this is extremely important and it's important to research the job you want, and the responsibilities that come with it and honestly ask yourself if you're prepared to handle those responsibilities. And Especially if it's a manager position, ask yourself if you have the skills to be a great manager, and if you're ready to handle that level of responsibility. I've also known people who turned down offers to be managers because they honestly knew they could not handle it, and weren't ready to be managers. There is a lot to think about and consider before just going in and asking for a promotion to make more money.
    Brian Taylor
    Replied about 1 year ago
    May I offer another perspective? While I don’t fault anyone for trying to improve their financial position, it really does come down to how valuable that person is to a company. My best and top performers have never had to ask me for a raise, because I’m always trying to figure out how to build in more performance based comp. I’ve found that it is never your best employees who ask for raises. Now that may sting at first, but think about it. If you don’t make it a no-brainer for your boss (assuming they actually have the ability to give a raise), then figure out what you can do to be worth more. The basis of any business deal is being able to answer the question “what’s in it for me?” for both parties. Seriously, what makes you worth more to your employer? Have yoo taken on more subordinates? Are you beating your KPIs? Are you taking more responsibility? Then that is going to speak volumes! You’re likely a rockstar, and that additional comp is coming up fast. I would also encourage people to speak with their employers to just candidly say “I would love to earn more. What more could I do to make it worth it to you?” In many cases, they will be so impressed with your proactive approach, they will help you actually design a plan with goals to hit, and be very forthcoming about what they need. Then employees can decide if that is something they want to pursue and invest in. It’s a lot easier than trying to work up the nerve to corner your boss and then make it awkward for all involved. The best part is that you can set those expectations and timelines together, and make it very simple to understand if you are meeting or exceeding those expectations. Communication, communication, communication. Remember that people typically like to help other people, so start with an open conversation about how you can help your boss so they can help you. Bosses are people too, and they hate being boxed in, threatened with ultimatums, and treated like ATM machines. But they do love people who say “what else can I do to help?” Those are the ones they invest more into, because people like that are the ones you build companies with. I just wanted to share that experience from “the other side of the table” so you can use it to better your case for getting an increase in pay.
    Brian Taylor
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Pardon my typos. You can clearly see why I’m not a professional writer. ;)
    Benjamin Tighe from Medford Oregon
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I recently told my employer I was going to restart my contracting company (construction) because I didn't like the wage I was at, no benefits, or the ability to deduct expenses. I really wanted to get back to doing my own thing but he eventually offered a very fair increase. I didnt ask for it because I didnt believe he could offer much more. Years ago he told me that if I make myself irreplaceable within a company I will always make top dollar for my position. I have strived to follow that advise for years and always use hustle to make up for lack of expertise. I never say no when asked to do something. Its sucks sometimes but has secured my place in the company. Once he thought I was leaving he made me an aggressive offer and I took it. No one else in the company is a committed to the overall success of the company as I am, except the boss, and making that obvious through action helped me get a raise. Provide value first.