How to Ask for a Pay Raise at Work

Asking for a raise at work can be intimidating and can introduce anxiety. It’s probably one of the most nerve-racking conversations you would ever have with your boss. Do you believe you are worth more than what you are currently earning? Then it is necessary to take this action at work.

If your goal is to stay in your current job, working for your present employer, you’ll need to muster the courage and ask for the pay raise you deem fit. Most employees feel awkward initiating the conversation, they are worried they might sound greedy or have no idea how to go about it. Instead, they hope and rely on their employers to notice their hard work and offer them an increase. Well, that can take a lifetime, and leave employees earning far less than they could receive if only they would speak up.

Asking for a raise is a normal part of your career journey, and if it is done right, you will not look greedy, sound odd, or entitled, you can end up earning significantly more money just by having this conversation with your superior, and that can be as short as 10 minutes. It’s ideal to put your request in writing, whether it’s an email or printed letter, or through a one-on-one private meeting. The average pay raise is often 3 percent, a good pay raise ranges from 4.5 percent to 5 percent, and anything above this is considered exceptional.

Preparation and timing are critical in this process, before you engage your employer or boss about a pay raise you deserve, you need to have the knowledge to back up your claims and also consider your office environment and the mood of the person you want to engage. It is also important to list all your reasons for wanting a raise before proceeding with your request, your request should be based on your performance and the value you bring to the team and the organization. Here’s a blueprint for how to ask for your raise successfully.


When to Ask for a Raise

First, know that it’s normal and part of your career journey to ask for a raise. As nerve-racking as you might feel about your request, remember that it is not a big deal for your boss, as they have encountered a lot of these discussions, and they know it’s normal for people to ask for a raise, however, be mindful and thoughtful of your timing.

Some people say there is never a perfect time to ask for a raise, but you would have to use wisdom to navigate the matter. Don’t ask for a raise at a sensitive time, such as if your company has laid people off, your department had low numbers and results for the quarter, or your boss is dealing with a complex personal issue. These factors will only push your raise request off the table. Push your request at the right time, for example, if you’ve just saved the day with an important client or gathered positive reviews for a high-profile project, or if your boss has seemed particularly pleased, with your work lately, that is a good time to make your request.

Study your company’s current pay increase practices, periods, and cycles. If they typically give out raises in the last quarter of the year, approach your boss in November or December. This way, you’ll allow them to consider your request and work with their superiors, rather than asking them to change an entire decision after major salary decisions have been made.

Do Your Salary Research & Trends

At this point, you may be wondering how much of a raise you should request. Every industry and job has its market value, you’re not going to get very far if the amount you ask for is not in line with the realities of today’s job market and value. Take time to do comprehensive research which will help you understand what a competitive wage is for someone in your position and geographic location. Various websites break down salary ranges for hundreds of positions across numerous industries, some are Robert Half Salary GuideIndeed SalariesSalary.Com, and PayScale. Researching the numbers will help you understand the monetary value of your work and also help you demonstrate to your boss that your salary raise request is backed by real data versus your assessment.


Make a List of Your Accomplishments

List all your accomplishments during your stay in the company and highlight where you’ve met or exceeded expectations. Collect all positive feedback & praise you’ve received on your last performance review. At the end of the day, you will need evidence to back up your request. If you have gathered feedback and compliments in the form of emails from clients, colleagues, and bosses, this is the time to show it. This is the moment to highlight which of your accomplishments brought the most value to the organization, it is ideal to demonstrate this in numbers. For example, you designed an automation tool that resulted in a 20 percent cutting down of organizational costs in the finance department.


Consider Your Qualifications

Consider your education, professional experience, and years you’ve worked for your current employer, and any specialized skills you bring to the table. Ideally, your boss would take them into account when analyzing your request.


Make the Request

After you are done with all your background checks, make the ask through a meeting. It’s ideal to have a meeting in person and in private. If you’re not in the same location as your manager, have the conversation over a video call, if possible. It is important to prepare what you are going to say and rehearse it. Start with an opener and clearly state the purpose of the meeting. You may consider opening lines such as:

  • Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. In my current role, I’m excited to keep working towards the company goals and grow my professional responsibilities. As a result, I’d like to discuss my salary.
  • Thank you for accepting to have this meeting. I appreciate the opportunities you’ve presented to me. I’ve been excelling in those areas over the last year and have exceeded the goals we created. Could we talk about a salary raise to reflect this higher level of contribution?

Be specific and straightforward, pour out all your accomplishments over the years and ask for the raise. If you decided about a particular amount, you would have to state it.

If you know your boss will need to get your raise approved by someone above them, like their manager or HR manager, you can make it easy for your boss in this regard by leaving them with a short presentation, listing your key responsibilities, and accomplishments. After, express appreciation for the consideration.


Know What to Say If the Answer Is ‘No’, ‘Yes’, or ‘Maybe’

If you don’t get a firm ‘yes’ from your boss right at the moment, and they say, ” I will get back to you,” that is okay, most bosses would want to think through it and also align with their superiors if they have any. If you get a ‘maybe’, make sure you’re clear and both of you align on what the next steps are. It’s okay to say suggest this, “Can I follow up and check back with you in our next meeting on the 20th?”

If you get a ‘no’, it is an opportunity to ask your boss what you can do or how you can upgrade to earn a raise in the future. If you get a yes, maintain your professionalism. Express your gratitude and keep excelling more than you used to.

Requesting a pay raise can be scary and uncomfortable, but you have nothing to lose by trying. The worst thing that can happen is a ‘no’, which is not likely to damage your relationship with your boss. And the best that can happen is the possibility of increasing your income and your true worth in your chosen field, so go for it and give it a try.



Photo: Khosro/Shutterstock


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