How to Ask for a Raise: The Right and Wrong Way Explained

Business.com / Careers / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Has it been a while since your last raise? Do you feel like you deserve more money? Here's exactly how to ask for a pay increase and get it.

Has it been a while since your last raise? Do you feel like you deserve more money and you’re ready to do something about it?

It’s a proven fact that people who ask for raises earn more throughout their careers. If you’ve never asked before, or if it’s been a while, the process can be intimidating though.

There are a couple of things you can do before any salary conversation to set yourself up to succeed.

The steps below will help you put the odds in your favor, avoid common mistakes, and build confidence so you can walk into the meeting feeling calm and ready. 

4 Things to Do When Asking for a Raise

1. Know What You’re Worth

Before you ask for a raise, you need to know approximately how much your skills are worth. Otherwise how will you know how much to ask for? And what will you say when your boss asks how you came up with the number?

You can use this free tool by Salary.com to get an estimate based on your job title and ZIP code. Glassdoor’s salary estimation tool is insightful and easy to use as well.

You can also ask colleagues within your industry. If you know somebody that recently went through a salary negotiation of their own that you're close with, ask for their input on a general range that you can expect. If you know somebody that is a hiring manager in your field, ask them too. You’ll use this info later in the process.

Related Article: When a Promotion is Not a Promotion: What Can You Do?

2. Prepare a Fact-Based Argument

The best way to get a raise is to show your value to the business. Use logic and proof whenever possible. To start, you can look at your performance and achievements. What have you accomplished in the last year?

 Where do you provide the most value? This is what to focus on when making an argument for why you should receive a raise.

You can also point out recent improvements or trends, whether it's becoming more productive, more efficient, or taking on new responsibilities since your salary was last discussed. Jot down some notes and try to quantify this as much as possible before you ask for your raise.

Don’t say that you’ve improved your productivity; tell them exactly how much you’ve improved. Use percentages, dollar figures and other numbers. More on this coming up.

3. Make the Conversation about Them

Once you have facts and numbers to back up your request for a raise, there’s one more thing you can do to boost your odds. Just like when you’re answering questions in a job interview, you’ll do better if you make the conversation about the employer, not about you.

For each area you’ve identified in the previous step, think about how it’s benefiting the whole organization. Try to put your accomplishments in terms of their gains. Ideally, you’d like to be able to show that you’re having a direct impact on the company’s revenue, profits, or growth.

Related Article:Get What You Deserve: How to Negotiate Salary [INFOGRAPHIC]

Not everyone can do this, so if you are unable to find something in this category, focus on what you’ve done for your group's performance instead. Here are some specific examples to help you get started:

  • Brought in 4 additional clients leading to $218,000 in revenue in December
  • Reduced department expenses by two percent, saving $19,000 per month
  • Helped hire and train 10 new team members within the group

4. Be Direct and Aim High

Once you've done everything above, you’re ready to ask your manager for a meeting and request your raise. Make your intention clear at the start of the conversation and then present the facts that best demonstrate your value to the company.

Stay confident and remember you have data to back you up. You're not begging or asking for a favor, you're presenting a logical argument. 

Earlier you estimated your market value. Aim high and ask for a number toward the top end of that range. This leaves room for you to still be well-compensated if your manager meets you somewhere in the middle. 

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Asking for a Raise:

1. Don't Combine This With Any Other Conversation

Your salary is important and the conversation should be dedicated to only that topic. Do not ask for your raise after another meeting, after a weekly check-in, or anything else.

To set this up, send an email telling your boss there is something you’d like to discuss. Ask them to please let you know when they have 30 minutes available.

2. Don't Get Emotional or Act Entitled

The reason you did all the research above is so you can make a fact-based, convincing argument for why the work you do is worth a higher amount. Leave emotion out of it, don’t let the conversation become adversarial, and never act like you’ve been mistreated or taken advantage of in terms of your current salary. Focus on how you'd like to be compensated in the future instead, and keep the conversation positive. 

3. Don't Use the Threat of Leaving as Leverage

Good companies know they need to pay their best people well to keep them. Focus on proving that you’re one of those people and let your manager handle the rest.

Turning this into a game of chicken is not only less likely to get you the raise, but will also sour the future relationship between you and your employer. Even if you do get the raise by threatening to leave, the company will not be a pleasant or enjoyable place to work for long. They might even look to replace you after the fact.

Related Article:How to Ace the Salary Question During a Job Interview

4. Don't Bring Up Your Personal Life

An increase in living expenses, a difficult commute or any financial obligation outside of work is not a good idea to bring up and can make you seem unprofessional. Personal factors are also far less convincing because they’re entirely about you and can’t be related back to your employer.

Remember that your pay is a reflection of your value to the company. If you keep that in mind when making your argument, you’ll boost your odds of getting a raise and build a positive relationship with your boss at the same time.

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