How to Ask for a Raise – 10 Tips for Success

January 18, 2024

how to ask for a raise with examples

Do you think you deserve a higher salary for the amount of work you’re putting in? It turns out that most people do, but only a portion of employees actually ask their bosses or managers for pay raises. If you are pondering how to ask for a raise, read on!

According to Harvard Business Review, more than half of total employees are afraid to ask for a raise. Reasons for this fear included not knowing what to say, worrying about seeming greedy, and simply being nervous about the interaction. Many employees also don’t possess a full understanding of their monetary value for the company, which makes matters even more difficult, when considering how much extra pay to ask for. No matter how kind and understanding your manager may be, or how much the odds may be in your favor for receiving a raise, asking will likely be uncomfortable. So, how should you go about it? Here is a guide to how and when to ask for a raise, including some examples for the ask and suggestions for how to follow up.

10 Tips to keep in mind when asking for a raise

1) The ask is common and often expected

That’s right: asking for a raise is normal! Discussing compensation is very common and even expected at many workplaces. Your inner voice might tell you that your manager will judge you for being forward, greedy, and undeserving. However, any experienced manager will expect a conversation about compensation at one point or another. Even if the answer ends up being a hard “no,” this is a part of day-to-day business, so don’t let your fear of embarrassment stop you from raising the subject. As discussed later on, a “no” or “maybe” can provide information as useful as a “yes.”

2) You’re not asking for a gift

While we’re on the topic of fear and embarrassment, some of these jittery feelings can come from believing you’re asking your boss for a favor or a pat on the back. You’re not. By doing your job, you actively contribute to a company or organization, as well as its mission and overall success. Furthermore, if you’ve been in the job for some time, you’re probably doing more and better work than when your first salary was offered. So, a higher salary wouldn’t be a gift, so much as a fair price for keeping you around to continue your excellent work. Especially if another company might offer a higher salary for a similar job, it’s in your best interest, as well as the best interest of your workplace, to communicate when you think you deserve a raise.

3) The ask should be within reason (do your research)

Plus, it’s not like you’re asking your boss to triple your salary (this probably wouldn’t be the right move). Because this ask is theoretically saying, “I’d like to be paid as much as I’d make at another company,” it’s important to research what other companies pay their employees with similar positions to yours. For many positions, you can find salary ranges and average salaries online through websites such as Indeed Salaries and Glassdoor. You can also research competing companies, since large businesses and organizations (as well as colleges and universities) often make salaries public. According to a CNN Business article, asking for 15-20% above your current salary is generally a good bet.

4) Schedule a check-in to gauge the likelihood of a raise

It might be a good idea to gauge your manager’s reaction ahead of time with an informal check-in, to avoid making a direct ask when the answer will be an absolute “no.” This way, if your boss believes that your work hasn’t been meeting certain expectations, you can work on these areas before making the ask. A check-in can also help you to set your manager’s expectations (that you’re working towards an eventual raise or promotion), so the eventual ask doesn’t take them by surprise.

How to Ask for a Raise (Continued)

You can ask for a check-in by saying something like, “When you have a chance, I’d appreciate your feedback on my recent projects and contributions. I’d love to know how I could improve” or, “Would you be open to having a conversation about my progress and career goals? I would really value your guidance and suggestions.” How your boss or manager reacts to this kind of question can provide valuable information on how you’re doing and whether a raise is likely. Either way, this information offers a chance to make improvements so you can move closer to your salary goals. Asking for feedback is also sure to make a positive impression, since you’re demonstrating care for your work. Once you’ve had this conversation, make sure to thank them for their time and incorporate any suggestions you receive.

5) Timing is important

When asking for a raise at work, take note of the timing. It’s possible that your job has an especially convenient time to ask for higher pay, such as during an annual or quarterly review (some managers already expect to discuss compensation at these meetings).  Another option is to ask at the end of a fiscal year (the 12-month period companies use for tax purposes). The end of this period tends to be in January, and around this time, companies are often making hiring plans for the upcoming year. So, after winter break, when your boss is likely well-rested and making plans for the upcoming year, could be an ideal time to discuss a raise (depending on other factors). If one of these opportunities is coming up, it could be a great time to plan ahead for your ask.

6) Consider it from your boss’s perspective

What are your boss’s priorities? If you’re not sure, it might be worthwhile to review recent email announcements, and note how your work contributes to these priorities in your ask. Also, remember what your boss has praised you on, and highlight these attributes.

On another note, your boss might need permission from their boss (or another person in the workplace) to give you a pay raise. A number of other bureaucratic obstacles might also keep them from giving a direct “yes.” Try to have an idea of how the process might work within your workplace in order to make the ask as realistic as possible.

How to Ask for a Raise (Continued)

Lastly, take note of your boss’s mood, since like the rest of us, their emotions could impact their response. Are they having a particularly rough day, or have they recently expressed concern for the company budget? Maybe hold off. On the other hand, if they seem to be in a positive mindset (or better yet, expressing praise for your work), this could be a great time to make the ask for higher pay.

7) How is your workplace doing financially?

If your workplace has not been meeting its financial goals, you might be less likely to receive a raise. If you aren’t sure how your workplace is doing financially, pay attention to clues such as recent layoffs or spending cutbacks. However, this information does not need to stop you from making the ask. While you should be mindful as you make the request, this conversation could provide you with useful information about the likelihood of a future raise.

8) What are your qualifications? Accomplishments?

Take note of the attributes that make you valuable to your workplace. Perhaps you have killer organizational skills, or your conversational ease makes you excellent with company leadership and client interactions. What skills of yours are most beneficial to the mission of your workplace? Another way to look at it: which of your attributes would be the hardest for your coworkers to lose if you were to switch to a higher-paid job elsewhere? Be sure to highlight these attributes when you ask for a raise.

How to Ask for a Raise (Continued)

And as stated before, highlight your recent accomplishments! Have you recently reached a goal or completed a large task? Has your boss or manager recently praised you for something specific? If possible, present these accomplishments in a measurable form. For example, if a recent deal recently brought in a certain amount of money, or your social media posts for the marketing team just gained your business hundreds of new followers, note these numbers when you make the ask.

Extra qualifications can also be useful to note. Have you completed any outside training or coursework, or attended conferences that could make you more useful for your company? Be sure to mention these qualifications.

9) Prepare a script

While it’s important to note your accomplishments and qualifications, lucky for you, it probably won’t be necessary to prepare a formal presentation. After all, you’ve already completed the job application and interview. Most of the time, it’s best to keep the ask short, briefly explaining why you’ve earned an increase. Though you won’t need a PowerPoint, it could be helpful to leave a simple printed-or-emailed list of key points, especially if your boss will eventually bring the question of your raise to others at the workplace.

Here are a few examples:

“I’ve really enjoyed working at (insert workplace) for the past two years, and I appreciate that you’ve trusted me with extra responsibilities such as (insert responsibilities). I’m eager to continue taking on more projects. Since I’ve had recent accomplishments in these areas (name one or two accomplishments), would it be possible to discuss a salary adjustment to reflect this new level of contribution?”

“Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I would like to discuss my salary, since it has been a year since my last raise. Since I’ve taken on extra responsibilities over the past year, and increased sales by (insert percentage), I believe that another raise would be fair. I’m excited to continue growing my career and contributing to this company.”

How to Ask for a Raise (Continued)

“Based on my research on average salaries for my job title in this area, and considering that I’ve been working here for (insert time at job), it seems that a raise of (insert percentage) would be appropriate at this point. Does this sound reasonable to you? I would be open to your opinion, as well as your feedback on my recent work.”

When you make this ask, you should aim to present yourself as optimistic, confident, and genuinely interested in further developing your skills and career. Try to avoid a tone that is uncertain or overly timid.

To personalize your ask, consider including further information on:

  • Projects for this job that you’re particularly passionate about
  • Reasons you’re enthusiastic about working with this company
  • How much you care about your colleagues
  • How your work has helped the company to reach specific goals

10) Be sure to follow up!

No matter the outcome of the conversation, it’s important to send a follow-up email and/or organize a follow-up meeting. You may also want to plan your response ahead of time for if your boss says “no” or “maybe,” since an immediate “yes” is unlikely.

What if your manager says “maybe”? Don’t be offended if you don’t receive a firm and immediate “yes” answer. As stated before, it’s possible that they need to discuss the matter with others at your workplace. Most likely, they aren’t even allowed to give you an answer on the spot. If this is the case, you’ll want to be clear about the next steps forward. You could even propose a date for a follow-up meeting, and be sure to politely follow up over email.

Even if the answer is a “no,” it’s important not to take it personally. This response might have nothing to do with you, so much as the company’s financial state. Use this as an opportunity to ask what you could do to improve your work so that a raise becomes more likely in the future. Once you have more information on what to improve and how long it might take to receive a raise, you can assess whether incorporating these suggestions or waiting for said amount of time seems realistic. If not, then it may be time to begin searching for another job.

How to Ask for a Raise – Additional Resources

Asking for a raise can be difficult and awkward, but don’t let this stop you! We hope that these tips have helped if you’re questioning how to ask for higher pay. For more information on reaching salary goals, check out these articles on the 100 Highest Paying College Majors and Graduate Earnings (by Institution).

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