How to Ask For a Raise

Looking to put more money in your pocket at work? Time to ask for that raise.

Looking to put more money in your pocket at work? The best way to make your case and get what you are after is to reflect what you have done for your employer and present it to them. Here is how to ask for raise.

Steps to Take When Asking for More Money at Work


 Timing is everything, especially when asking your employer for a raise. If the company is going through layoffs or other restructuring, asking for a raise while this is underway is NOT advisable. It’s best to let the dust settle, but before it does, prepare your resume just in case you’ll be given notice too.

While company financial hardships are often not viewed as the employee’s problem they are, whether you are at a publicly traded or privately held company. Remember the saying there is no “I” in team? Even if financial woes can be attributed to a few shifty executives or underperforming people, a company does not run because of one. It takes a team and as an employee, you are part of the team. Succeed as a team, fail as a team. There is no “I”.

The same applies for candidates who recently received less than stellar performance feedback during a review or at a separate meeting with a supervisor. Now is NOT the time to rock the boat. Get a few wins under your belt and then you’ll be in a better position to ask.


When you ask for a raise, you have to do your homework. That means digging in and doing some research. Average annual pay raises usually fall in line with inflation and cost of living, typically within the two to four percent range.

Review your employer’s pay practices. Do raises occur annually? Are merit-based and performance bonuses awarded throughout the year? Get to know the policies and practices first. Employee handbooks often spell out policies and procedures to follow for asking for a raise. If it isn’t spelled out or you’re unsure, you can ask a member of the HR department for more information. DO NOT ask other employees what they are being paid. In most workplaces, this is strongly discouraged and can be grounds for termination depending on the law where you reside.

Research the market pay rates for your current role at the LOCAL level. Local market conditions (such as number of open positions and marketability of skills) are large factors when determining salary projections. Online tools can be helpful, but you’ll want to reference a few that can give you local market data. This is where speaking to a few recruiters who have deep knowledge of your local market can be helpful. Recruiters have access to salary data and some firms publish annual reports with data reporting on such that is available for public consumption. 


Now that you have a good sense of how competitive your pay is, you’ll want to look at your work contributions. But what if your pay is already competitive? Again, look towards your work contributions. Make a list of the goals you’ve accomplished for the company and their impact on the business (cost savings, productivity improvement, important project achieved, outstanding development of staff, etc.) and get documentation on them all.

Next, outline any contributions you’ve made above and beyond your typical day-to-day job. These could be such things as additional responsibilities, special projects, additional staff to manage, etc. Again, outline their impact to the business.

Review what you’ve accomplished or are accomplishing and set a pay increase goal. Use your earlier market research to make sure you are asking for an increase that is reasonable for your job and your performance. Compile your data and documentation into one document or report and schedule a meeting with your supervisor. You don’t want to blindside your boss, so it’s best to inform them that you want to discuss your compensation. Your supervisor will need to be prepared, or nothing may be resolved at the meeting. Send an email with a calendar invite letting them know the topic of discussion.


Step 4 – THE PITCH

A successful raise negotiation is never based on why you believe you need more money, it is always based on your contributions, accomplishments and merit. Your employer may care about you and your well-being, but giving you an increase in your salary just because your lifestyle has changed is not their duty. What are lifestyle changes? These can include things like purchasing a home, cost of children, etc.

At the meeting, be completely straightforward with your request when asking for a raise from your manager. Now is when you will want to go over your what you’ve prepared in the previous steps and share with the manager a copy of your documentation.

Be very specific in the pay raise you’d like to see reflected for your contributions. If you are told that a raise is not possible at this time, ask what you need to do to become eligible. Raises again, are based on superior performance of your job, not just doing what is required in the job description.

If your supervisor agrees to your request, make sure to get everything in writing, including the date when you can expect to see the increase and if possible, how this will impact any annual reviews, bonuses or other compensation. Make sure you understand everything completely.

Consider These Special Circumstances

If you are working through a consulting or staffing agency you should still speak with your direct supervisor, but you will also want to make the firm or agency aware of your intentions as well. In many circumstances, there are contracts or other agreements in place that have determined an hourly rate in exchange for your services. If you signed an employment contract, you’ll want to review what the contract states with regard to raises.

If you are declined your raise request, be aware that your employer knows that you are seeking an increase and that you may go looking elsewhere to meet your goal if you feel as if your efforts will not pan out for some time. If you do go looking elsewhere, do not slack off at your current job. Continue to give 100% until you find another position that will meet or exceed your salary goals and have an offer in hand and only then, make your employer aware. They may decide that you’re too valuable to lose and make the raise happen in order to keep you. But remember, once you’ve made your intentions known that you’re looking elsewhere your employer will remember this, even if you stay.

Do NOT threaten to quit if you don’t receive a pay raise. It is unprofessional and may result in your employer telling you to go ahead and leave. If you don’t have job, this could put you in a very precarious situation and potentially burn bridges with your employer.

Asking for a raise doesn’t have to be intimidating if you have done your planning and preparation. The key is confidence and to believe that your contributions and skills are worth it. Jobs come and go and the only person who will be watching out for you and your career and earning potential over the course of your working years is YOU. Always think of yourself first and do what’s best for you. Rest assured that employers will always do what’s in the best interest of the business.



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