How to Ask for a Raise

Man using calculator

There comes a time in every job when you feel that you need to ask for a raise. Maybe it’s because you’ve been with the same company for many years and it seems your loyalty has gone unnoticed or maybe it’s because you’ve been taking on more and more responsibilities but your boss does not seem to value you.

Asking for a salary increase can be very intimidating but it is necessary if you feel that you’re undervalued in your workplace. To get the pay rise you’re hoping for, you should come up with an action plan that will eliminate the chances of your request being turned down as it will allow your boss to understand your value and worth. To help you out, we’ve put together a guide that will ensure successful negotiation.


Make Sure the Timing Is Right

The first step to take before asking for a raise is to ensure that the timing is right. Asking for more money when the company is struggling will make you seem immature. So, before you decide that it’s time to ask for a salary increase, make sure that the odds are in your favour.

  • Have people been fired? If your boss has recently fired or made people redundant, it could mean that the company is not doing too well financially. Avoid asking for a pay rise at this time as it might annoy your boss while it will also prove to them that you can’t be trusted with responsibilities which can also hurt your chances of getting a raise in the future.
  • Is the company making a profit? If the company is losing more money than it’s making, there’s a good chance that things are heading south, and asking for more money will get you nowhere.
  • Are you on your boss’s good side? If for whatever reason you’ve recently experienced a fallout with your boss, make sure that things are on the mend and that you’re back on your boss’s good graces before you make such a request. Bosses are rarely eager to give employees more money, let alone when they believe that you’ve done something wrong. So, ensure that your boss understands what you’re doing for the company before even thinking about asking for a pay rise.


Figure Out How Much You’re Worth

Before walking into your boss’s office, you need to also determine how much of a pay rise you are looking for. This figure should be reasonable and it should also be the result of careful research. Avoid walking into your boss’s office with a random number as you’ll need to be able to back the figure up, especially throughout the negotiation phase.

Your first step to figuring out your worth is to find out what the industry standard is for someone in your role and with your level of experience. Websites like Glassdoor and Salary will be able to help you understand where your salary should range.

You can also have a look at vacancies in other companies and even speak with recruiters to get a better idea what’s considered a competitive salary in the market. If you’ve worked for a long time in your industry, there’s a good chance that you don’t get paid as much as you should, so it’s important that you investigate what you’d be offered if you were to look for another job.

If you’re paid the industry standard or similar, that doesn’t mean you should settle for your current salary, especially if you’ve had a few recent victories in your job and you believe that making such a demand would be reasonable. Figure out how the company is doing financially and ask a reasonable bump to your salary.

Keep in mind that the figure you will ask for should not be designed to cover any new needs you have in your personal life (ie: buying a new car, sending your kids to a private school, etc) but rather to match your achievements and how these have impacted the company.


Prepare to Negotiate

Picking the right time to talk to your boss about a pay rise is essential, but what is also important is to be prepared to explain to your boss why you deserve a raise in the first place. Even if your boss is willing to increase your salary, there’s a very good chance that they’ll have a much smaller figure in mind and you need to be prepared to argue your case.

Here are a few things that will help you through negotiations:

Be Aware That Your Boss Might Be Reluctant

Employers tend to think that their employees are replaceable and, as such, neglect to see the value that each individual brings to their organisation. Bad bosses will in fact go as far as think that you’re driven by greed when you should be thankful for the opportunities they’ve provided you with. But whatever your boss might or might not believe, don’t let it put you off from making a request.

Pay rises are important because they increase motivation and make people feel valued, and although we shouldn’t really have to ask for them, the workplace is designed in such a way that puts employers above employees – and for your demands to be heard, you often need to raise your voice.

Therefore, your goal should be to convince your boss that you deserve a pay rise. This means that you’ll need to talk about what you’ve done for the company, what you plan on doing in the future, as well as why and how you are an asset to the company.

The key is to be confident, so don’t throw in the towel after your boss says ‘no’. Rather, take it on as a challenge and prove to them that they are wrong.

Make a List of Your Achievements

One of the most effective ways to convince your boss that you really deserve an increase in your salary is to showcase your achievements. So, make a list of all of your achievements and make them as quantifiable as possible. Don’t just settle with saying that you’ve signed a number of clients over the years, for example. Let them know of how many you’ve signed on exactly. Putting a figure in front of everything makes you sound more professional and makes your achievements sound more impressive.

Of course, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t just show up at your boss’s door and recite your achievements to them. As there’s a chance that your boss will say that s/he’ll take the matter under review, it doesn’t hurt to have a copy of a list of your achievements with you.

Be Prepared to Settle for Less

As much as I’d like to tell you that you should insist on the figure that you want, the reality is that settling for less might be necessary. This is especially true if your boss tells you that the company is struggling a bit financially.

Don’t press your boss to accept the figure that you suggest because that will just make them feel uncomfortable and make them turn against you. Rather, you should only ask for the figure to be reviewed as you don’t believe it currently reflects the quality of your work, but also make it clear that you’re prepared to negotiate.

Be Specific about How Much Money You’re Asking

Many employees walk into their boss’s office asking for a raise but are taken so aback by the whole experience that they neglect to talk about the exact figure they have in mind. In fact, there’s a good chance that your boss will try to get you out their door without talking about numbers in an effort to increase your salary by as much as they see fit.

But being specific about the figure you’re expecting can help save a lot of stress and anxiety down the line when you realise that you’re at your boss’s mercy.

Talk about Responsibilities

Although we are hired to do one thing, most of us end up doing a lot more than we anticipated and it’s important that you feel rewarded for your work. So, make sure to talk about how your responsibilities have increased, what you were hired to do and how your duties at work have expanded over time.


Avoid Common Pitfalls

As the mere thought of having to ask for money probably makes you feel very nervous, it’s only natural to make a few mistakes while talking to your boss about a salary increase.

Here are a few tips on things you should be careful with:

  • Waiting to be given a pay rise: In days of yore, workers would be given a pay rise once a year, as a matter of routine. Those days are no more; it’s now up to employees to request a pay rise. This means the initiative is with you, so don’t wait for a pay rise to come to you.
  • Waiting for your annual review: The annual review is not the best time to ask for a pay rise because budgets may already have been agreed. Begin the conversation about your pay rise a few months before your annual appraisal.
  • Dictating the salary you should get: Wait for your boss to offer a specific salary figure first. This offer may be higher than your expectations; your boss may feel you are worth it – but if a lower figure is offered, you can respond with a counteroffer that you can both accept. Throughout the discussion, it’s important to stay ‘calm and considered’ and to listen and respond positively to feedback before resuming any negotiation.
  • Reacting negatively if your raise is denied: If you are denied a pay rise, avoid the temptation to act rashly – for example, by resigning on the spot. Whilst your behaviour may be more a form of negotiation (ie: an ultimatum) and less a sincere desire to resign, such a stance is likely to be counterproductive. Your employer may feel threatened or backed into a corner and accept your resignation. If you are declined a pay rise, the chances are that you will be given a raise but that time is yet to come. Treat any rejection as an opportunity to focus on those aspects that will ensure you are given a pay rise the next time you have a salary review. Ask: ‘What do I need to focus on to be successful next time?’
  • Complaining about being left out: You might have worked for your company for several years without getting a raise. However, don’t make the mistake of approaching your boss with a complaining attitude. Though it is understandable that you are disappointed, whining about it will not help matters. Understand that the company might actually not be in a position to give you a raise. In addition, the fact that you have worked for the company for a specific duration does not mean that you automatically deserve a raise.
  • Comparing yourself to your co-workers: One of the biggest mistakes you can make when negotiating for a raise is to compare yourself to your colleagues. Don’t go to your boss’s office and complain that someone who was hired recently is earning more than you. The other person might be making more because they are more qualified or more effective at their job. In addition, they might have negotiated better when applying for the job.


Asking for a raise can be a stressful experience, but as long as you approach the matter with patience, you’ll be able to achieve your goal. Make sure that you prepare for the negotiations in advance and maintain your patience throughout the process.

Have you ever asked for a raise? How did it go? Let me know in the comments section below.