How to Ask for a Raise: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you feel that you should be earning more than you are now? In that case, you have two options: ask for a raise at your current job or find a new, higher-paying position. If you would rather stay in your current job, you need to negotiate a salary increase.

If you’re unsure about asking for a raise, remember that it’s much easier to ask for a raise than to look for a new job. After all, there are no guarantees you will find the job you’re looking for. Companies also understand that it’s more cost-effective to retain employees by giving them a raise than by hiring someone new.

As you can see, asking for a raise can become a win-win outcome for you and your employer. However, some key factors are essential to keep in mind when asking for a raise. Let’s discuss these factors in detail so your next salary negotiation will be a success.

What’s Inside:

  • Key factors to consider when evaluating the right time to ask for a raise
  • Know your value and find out if your salary is at, below, or above the market average
  • Getting endorsements from colleagues and supervisors is a great way to build your case
  • Schedule an appointment with your boss and prepare your pitch carefully
  • Objections you should prepare for when asking for a raise and how to address them.

How to Ask for a Raise: A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Choose the right time to ask for a raise

Successfully negotiating a pay bump is a question of timing. If you get the timing right, you begin to stack the odds of receiving a raise in your favor. There is one question you must ask yourself before asking for a raise: do I deserve a raise? Please take the time to answer this question honestly. If you can honestly answer that you don’t deserve a raise, it might be a better idea to wait.

If you feel that you do, you must evaluate the reasons why you believe you deserve a raise now. For instance, asking for a raise following a big project may be the best time for you to bring it up. After a successful performance review or after achieving your quarterly target, you can also raise the issue.

In addition to your performance, here are four key factors to consider when evaluating the right time to ask for a raise:

  • First, consider the company’s financial situation. Is the company in a position to give you a raise? Even if you exceed your targets, the company may not be in the position to bump your salary.
  • Next, evaluate your boss’s current situation. Suppose your manager is currently overworked or under a significant amount of stress. In that case, you might want to wait for a better time.
  • Also, assess the best time of year to bring up the subject. For example, asking for a raise during the budget season might be best.
  • Lastly, you might consider asking for a raise following a significant company achievement. For instance, you negotiate a salary increase after a successful product launch or after your company has reported positive earnings.

Please remember that a successful salary negotiation depends on the value you deliver to the company. The more value you provide, the more your company will be willing to negotiate.

2. Know Your Value

Understanding your value in the workplace goes beyond your performance. Knowing your value also depends on your salary compared to the market average. Therefore, you must determine if your salary is below or above the market average.

If your salary is below the market average, you may have the leverage to negotiate a raise. In contrast, if your salary is at or above the market average, it might be tough for you to justify a raise. The question then becomes, how can you find out if your salary is at, below, or above market average?

Here are some great resources that will allow you to do your homework:

  • US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook. The BLS publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook to reference labor market statistics. The Handbook includes statistics on wages. It is a great place to start your research on the going rate for your position.
  • Glassdoor. Glassdoor is a handy resource to check average salaries for virtually every job in the market. Glassdoor’s tool allows you to determine if your salary is fair.
  • PayScale. PayScale offers free information on salaries and wages for individual jobs, industries, and companies. You can browse through available information to determine where you currently stand salary-wise.

Browsing job boards such as Indeed or Monster can help you understand what companies are currently offering new employees. This data can also help you determine if you have a good chance of getting a better salary elsewhere.

3. Ask for Endorsements

Getting endorsements from colleagues and supervisors is a great way to build your case. For instance, a written endorsement from your supervisor helps create a justification for your raise.

How so?

Put yourself in your boss’s or manager’s shoes. They would most likely have to request your raise from the finance department. Do you think the finance department will take your boss’s word for it? Perhaps, but your boss would most likely need to justify their request. The key here is to make your boss’s job as easy as possible.

Don’t let your boss have to dig up evidence to prove your case. Give it to them. Get as much evidence as possible and present it to your boss. Your boss can then take your documentation to make your case. Your boss will be much more cooperative if you make things easy for them.


4. Schedule an appointment

It’s wise to schedule an appointment with your boss to discuss a raise. The last thing you want to do is surprise your boss. Catching your boss off-guard may backfire.

How so?

Think about it this way:

Suppose you approach your boss during a coffee break. You cut to the chase and mention that you would like to discuss the possibility of a raise. Naturally, your boss is unprepared for a salary negotiation.

What do you think their reaction would be?

Most likely, your boss will try to buy time because they may not know how to respond. Consequently, your chances of successfully getting a raise will dwindle. Therefore, your best bet is to set up your boss for a successful negotiation. Doing so requires you to avoid surprising your boss at all costs.

The best approach is to schedule an appointment with your boss. Here are three great ways to approach the situation:

  • Talking to your boss during a coffee break or lunchtime about their availability is a good start. Mention you want to speak to them about your job and your role. Then be patient and wait till your boss gets back to you with their availability.
  • Emailing your boss is a good way to break the ice. Mention that you would like to meet with them to discuss your role in the company. Be patient. If you find that your boss hasn’t gotten back to you, you can always follow up in person when you have a chance.
  • Sending a written letter requesting an appointment is a great way to get the ball rolling. Mention why you want to meet, but be careful not to request a raise in the letter. Remember that you are merely asking for a meeting. A written letter provides proof of your attempts to communicate if you ultimately decide to leave the company.

Here is a good way to approach a meeting with your boss:

  • I would like to schedule an appointment with you to discuss my compensation at your convenience.
  • I would appreciate a few minutes of your time to discuss my compensation.
  • Please let me know when you would be available to discuss my compensation.

Above all, please avoid leading off with “a raise.” Using the word “raise” implies “more money.” Perhaps you might be able to negotiate your raise in terms of benefits and not salary. For example, you might get tuition reimbursement, enhanced insurance coverage, or even paid time off instead of a pay bump.


5. Prepare your pitch

Once you schedule an appointment, you must be ready to plead your case. Trying to “wing it” may come back to bite you. Therefore, preparing your pitch will enable you to state why you deserve a raise. Most importantly, you’ll avoid wasting time. Please remember that your aim should be to make things as easy for your boss as possible. Your sales must contain the arguments that your manager can use to justify your raise.

The first place to start is by thanking your manager for their willingness. You can lead off with something like:

  • Thank you for your time and willingness to meet with me today. I’d like to start by stating how committed I am to the company and achieving our goals. I am also committed to expanding my current role as much as possible. As a result, I would like to discuss my current compensation.
  • Thank you very much for this meeting. I am so excited about the results of my latest performance review. So, I would like to discuss my current compensation. I would like to know if this is a good time to bring it up.

Please remember that stating your commitment to the company will help ease your boss’s fears of you leaving the company. The slightest hint that you’re interested in leaving may cause your boss to question how long you plan to stay in the company.

Next, state your case. At this point, you can mention the reasons that support your request for a raise.

  • I have consistently delivered on my targets. I have either met or exceeded my targets every quarter. For instance, I surpassed my target by 10%.
  • I am excited about completing our latest project. We delivered the product on time and under budget. We managed to save 5% of the projected budget. We also received great feedback from the customer. Here is a copy of the overall feedback we received.

Please bear in mind that providing concrete metrics or hard evidence helps build your case. Numbers, data, figures, and endorsements all come in handy at this stage.

Now, make your request.

  • I have been with the company for some time. Based on my recent performance, I would like to discuss the possibility of a salary adjustment. From my research, it appears my current compensation is 10% below the market average. As a result, I would like to know if it is possible to adjust my compensation accordingly.
  • Based on market research and my performance, I would like to discuss the possibility of a salary adjustment.

Please remember to be direct but polite. Above all, give your manager something to aim for. Discussing an adjustment to the market average is a great place to start. Otherwise, you might suggest a 5% or 10% raise. If other colleagues are making more than you do, suggesting you make the same as they do could be a great bargaining position.

6. Anticipate objections

It’s crucial to prepare for objections your manager may have. Here are some of the objections you may need to face:

  • The company isn’t in a financial position to offer you a raise at this time.
  • I don’t have the budget to give you the amount you’re asking for.
  • If I give you a raise, I would have to give everyone a raise.
  • I need to get clearance for that.
  • I don’t have the authority to make that decision.

While these objections may be valid, it’s a good idea to follow them up with thoughtful questions such as:

  • When would be a good time to discuss this issue in the future?
  • What can I do to improve my performance?
  • Are you satisfied with my performance?
  • Is there any other part of my compensation we could discuss?
  • Is there any other information I need to help build my case?

Don’t take objections personally. The company may not be in the position to give you a raise. So, it’s always best to leave the door open for future discussion.

7. Thank your boss

It’s a good rule of thumb to thank your boss whether you get a raise or not. Sending a thank-you email is a good touch. Most importantly, thank your boss for their time and willingness to discuss the issue. Don’t forget to reiterate your commitment to the company. The last thing you want to do is make your boss believe you’re prepared to leave your job for a better offer.

How can TalentZök help you get a better salary?

At TalentZök, we understand the true value of good talent. If your attempts to negotiate a salary raise fail to deliver, and you’re ready to look for a new job, check us out. We help talented folks, just like you, find the right opportunities. We might have just what you’re looking for.


This post is made available for informational purposes only to provide a general understanding of the topics discussed herein. It is not intended to provide specific business, legal, or professional advice and should not be relied on as such. TalentZök is not liable or responsible for any damage or loss arising from any reliance placed on such materials.

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