It makes sense to ask for a raise when you’ve done a good job at work.
Perhaps you just completed a major project, surpassed your quota or acquired valuable skills. All these scenarios may qualify you for a higher salary than what was established at the beginning of your tenure. Even if company leaders are hesitant to discuss raises, they’ll want to keep you around if you’ve demonstrated serious professional growth.
How to Ask For a Raise
- Understand why you are asking for a raise.
- Rehearse what you want to say.
- Gather salary data for your position.
- Bring it up to your manager before the company review cycle.
- Share a list of your accomplishments and impact.
- Ask about possible promotions.
“Companies tend to know when they are underpaying and when it’s time for a raise, but will rarely make the first move outside of any normal promotion cycle,” sNick Drewe, CEO of e-commerce savings platform Wethrift, told Built In. “If a company values you and wants to keep you, they’ll do what’s right and make it happen.”
Here are some concrete steps on how to ask for a raise, according to hiring managers, in-house recruiters, HR professionals and negotiation experts.
When to Ask for a Raise
Employees should understand one thing about how to ask for a raise — timing is everything. Following these tips can help you determine the right moment to ask for a raise.
After You’ve Justified Your Reasoning
You should understand why it’s important for you to get a raise, asking yourself if you can afford to not get a raise and whether you are willing to quit your job if one is not obtained, Robin Ducot, chief technology officer at Momentive, told Built In.
Knowing the answer to your “why” will inform you on how to approach your conversation with your manager and what to ask for.
For starters, if you’re unhappy with your job, asking for a raise will not make you any happier, said Roblox senior director of engineering Philippe Clavel. Instead, it would be better to discuss ways to resolve your unhappiness with your manager. Ask yourself if you want a raise because you feel your pay is below the going market rate, or it’s because your role has expanded and changed.
Successfully completing a project or doing something extremely well also marks another key time to ask for a raise, Clavel said.
Earlier in the Year or Performance Cycle
If you wait to ask for a raise until the end of the year, your manager may not have the funding for your request, as others may have asked for raises earlier than you, Ducot said. Bringing up the idea earlier keeps it top of mind for your manager going into the next review cycle.
Asking for a raise earlier in the year is also a good way to receive feedback on your performance if your manager is not good at giving regular feedback. Your request for a raise may prompt their feedback early so you can address it before the next review cycle, Ducot said.
Before You Feel ‘Stuck’ in Your Current Role
Waiting too long to ask for a raise can make you feel trapped in your position. If you receive no bumps in compensation or additional benefits, you may think that your current role has given you a certain value that won’t change until you get out of that role. This outlook can lead to frustration and feeling underappreciated, causing you to leave the company before talking about this with your manager.
That’s why it’s important to ask for a raise before you reach this point. Receiving timely raises guarantees you are compensated for any experiences or skills you gain on the job and accounts for your growth as a professional. You then don’t have to worry about pursuing a higher position to get a pay raise that accurately reflects what you bring to the table.
How to Ask for a Raise
Asking for a raise can be intimidating, but remembering the following expert-recommended tips might make articulating your salary needs a bit easier.
Build a Bench of Supporters
Why: “It’s important to proactively build your bench of supporters. Having someone else to advocate on your behalf can go a long way in showcasing your value,” said Tracy Stone, director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Intuit.
How: Proactively build these relationships over time so that your supporters can see your work and understand what you bring to the table, along with specific examples. Then when you’re ready to ask for a raise, tap into your network of supporters as references, or if they’re comfortable, ask one or two to send an affirmative note to your manager showcasing your development and growth from their perspective.
Gather Salary Data to Provide at Your Review
Why: “Employees should understand what the market is paying for their job,” Ducot said. “What are their peers making in similar roles at other companies? It’s important to come to the conversation equipped with this information.”
Although it’s important to have industry salary information as you explore how to ask for a raise, it is particularly important to have pay scale information from your own company if you can access it.
How: Gather credible industry salary data for your particular role and geography, Dana McCormick, chief human resources officer at cybersecurity company Simeio, told Built In. Salary data that requires a subscription is often the most credible, she added.
Another way to gather salary information for your particular company is to inquire at your company whether pay scale range data is available and to also have conversations with co-workers to see if they are willing to share such information, said recruiters.
Ask for a Meeting to Review Your Salary
Why: “Your boss should know your agenda upfront so nobody’s time is wasted and they’ll prepare for the meeting too,” Drewe said.
How: When approaching your boss about a raise, it helps to be as direct as possible about what you want, and be as communicative as possible ahead of time.
Take Stock of Important Benefits You Want
Why: Your salary payout is the most vital piece of your compensation, but it’s important to remember that it isn’t the whole picture on how to ask for a raise. Most companies offer a variety of benefits as a part of their full compensation packages, including perks like stocks, parental leave and education stipends. Making sure you’re being appropriately compensated is more than just finding the right dollar amount — it’s also about receiving proper support for your individual lifestyle.
How: Within the benefits your company offers, perhaps you want to ask for additional vacation time, payment of an MBA program, or a larger slug of stock option grants. And, your company may be open to hearing requests for additional benefits that they currently don’t offer.
Develop a List of Your Accomplishments and Company Impact
Why: Ultimately, the strongest information you can bring to your salary review is about your own performance. Employees should understand what unique value they bring to the company, and be prepared to communicate that to their manager during this discussion, Ducot said.
How: Employees should understand what they’ve accomplished in the past year. They should come to this conversation ready to discuss their contributions to the company, their team, and how those contributions support the employee’s request for a raise, she said. Employees should make sure they’ve reviewed their performance and they are performing above expectations.
Rehearse The Points You’ll Raise in Your Salary Review
Why: It’s common for people to feel some anxiety when discussing compensation, but there’s really no need to be, whether in-person or remote, Ducot said. To help reduce the anxiety and ensure you hit all the points you want to make, practice rehearsing what you will say in your salary review.
How: You will likely be sitting across the desk from your manager for an in-person salary review meeting or talking to them via video conferencing. How to ask for a raise in either situation requires rehearsing your salary request, accomplishments and impact on the company while sitting in front of the bathroom mirror or recording yourself on video. You want to come across as clear and direct, without being defensive, Ducot advised.
Use Accomplishments as a Basis for a Raise
Why: “Don’t expect a raise just because time has passed,” Ducot said. “Don’t expect a raise without having contributed anything worthwhile.”
Oftentimes people get pigeonholed into staying at a company for too long because their pay goes stagnant, getting arbitrary raises only after a certain amount of time,” Drewe said. “I think by keeping abreast of your role, the role above you, what the going rate is, throughout the course of your career, you can best assess the time to ask for the raise because you’ll have the data to back it up — provided your performance has also been stellar to warrant the raise.”
How: While you can mention how long you have worked for the company, note that in the past year you have helped the company’s goals, mission, products, services, financial performance or its relationship with customers and employees by taking X steps. If you have data on the impact of these steps, that should also be cited.
State the Specific Figure of Percentage Increase That You Want for Your Raise
Why: I think an employee should come to the table with a percentage or dollar amount because that will help further the conversation between the manager or HR professional so they can discuss how they arrived at that particular number, McCormick said, adding HR professionals have tools to research that figure or percentage to see if that amount is appropriate or not.
Inquire About Possible Promotions
Why: An employee’s next career boost or promotion usually comes with a salary increase. The goal of a good manager is to pre-emptively walk with the employee on what their next career phase or development will be, which in turn will have an impact on their salary scale, Clavel noted.
How: “What’s interesting is that most employees who do take the initiative to ask about compensation are more interested in promotions,” Ducot said. “They want to know how to get promoted to the next level, not necessarily how to get a raise.”
Negotiate if They Say ‘No’
“To get a ‘yes,’ expect a ‘no,’” Michael Wheeler, a senior fellow at Harvard Law School and former professor at Harvard Business School, told Built In. “Anticipate why they may be reluctant to give you a raise now and, therefore, generate good reasons why a raise would be appropriate.”
For example, your manager may cite concerns they would have to give a raise above the pay scale to other employees if they gave you that type of raise. Wheeler offers this advice if you face this situation and are doing more work than your colleagues:
“If everybody is doing X and Y and you are doing X, Y and Z, you can legitimately explain to your manager that you’re not the same as other employees,” Wheeler said. “You can say if they also learn to do Z, that would be good for them and good for the company because there would be more people who are multifaceted.”
Managers may acknowledge you are doing a great job but say your request falls outside of the normal period for issuing raises when you go about your efforts on how to ask for a raise. Don’t be deterred, Wheeler advises. Instead, set an agreement for when your raise will be considered, he said.
Getting a raise out of the cycle is nearly impossible unless you get promoted out of cycle or really will quit, Ducot said.
“Employees should assume that a ‘no’ is really a ‘not right now,’ “ Ducot said. “With that in mind, the real question is: What do I need to do to make sure that I am eligible for a fair raise during the next review cycle?”
But if your manager says absolutely “no” to your raise, even after you counter their decline with contributions you have made to the organization and offer no reason for denying the request, Stone said it may be time to consider other options.
What Not to Say When Asking for a Raise
Asking for a raise can be a sensitive subject, and one careless statement could derail the conversation. By avoiding these phrases, you can remain on good standing with your manager and ensure your request comes across the way you intended it to.
“I Deserve a Raise”
Saying you deserve a raise suggests that the company owes you something and can be seen as a way to make your manager feel guilty. Noting how long you’ve been with the company also isn’t effective since this doesn’t guarantee a raise. You’re better off explaining the kind of impact you’ve made through certain projects, listing quantifiable results for your manager to consider.
“I’m Overdue for a Raise”
Claiming you’re overdue for a raise is your opinion and may come across as entitlement. Even if you’ve been on your team for a while and have done solid work, you may want to back up your ask with data from performance reviews and past projects. You can also ask what you can do to improve at your job and set yourself up for a raise in the future.
“X Makes More Than Me”
Bringing your coworkers into the conversation won’t help your point. In fact, coworkers in similar roles may have qualifications that call for higher salaries. Referencing salary data in your position or industry makes for a stronger case. Another route you can take is asking your manager what certifications or skills you can learn to boost your chances of getting a raise.
“I Need a Raise Because I’m Struggling Financially”
Oversharing about your personal life is never a good idea, and your manager might think you don’t know how to manage your money. Instead of trying to make your manager feel sorry for you, bring up ways you may have brought in more revenue for the company or developed solutions to save your department money.
“I Need a Raise to Match My Cost of Living”
Sometimes companies adjust salaries based on where employees live, but cost of living is generally not the main factor that determines a salary. Moving to a different apartment or some other life change isn’t an excuse to ask for a raise. Instead, provide ways you’ve gone above and beyond in your current role. You may also ask your manager to describe what an excellent performance looks like in your position and how you can achieve that moving forward.
“Why Didn’t I Get a Raise?”
This approach also sounds like entitlement and suggests you feel like you’re owed something from the company. Besides, making your salary personal may put your manager on the defensive and shut down future conversations about your salary. Ask for a one-on-one with your manager where you can discuss your salary and concrete steps you can take to better position yourself for a raise during the next performance cycle.
“If You Don’t Give Me a Raise, I’m Leaving”
Setting an ultimatum can antagonize your manager and make it sound like you’re trying to tell them what to do. This method may make it impossible to begin any conversation and convince your company it’s time to replace you.
“I’m Going to Join the Competition”
Threatening to leave for another company still leaves a dark cloud over any conversation, especially if you signed a non-compete agreement. It’s okay to say you’ve received other offers, but explain you’d rather remain with your employer under the right conditions. This way, you can show you have career ambitions and want to keep contributing to your company without pitting your manager against you during salary discussions.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much of a raise should I ask for?
The average raise is a little above 3 percent, with solid raises falling between 4.5 and 5 percent. However, you could ask for as much as a 10- to 20-percent raise, depending on your performance and impact on the company.
What do you say when asking for a raise?
When asking for a raise, say you’d like a raise and list specific accomplishments and quantifiable results. You can also explain what skills and experiences you’ve gained and how you’ve expanded the ways in which you contribute to your team.
What not to say when asking for a raise?
When asking for a raise, be sure not to say things like “I deserve a raise,” “I’m overdue for a raise” or “I’ll leave if you don’t give me a raise.” These phrases can be off-putting and shut down future conversations you’d like to have about your compensation.