How to Ask for a Raise at Work: Tips and Example Scripts

It might feel uncomfortable asking for a raise, but you deserve it!

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to ask for a raise: Two hands exchanging money

Asking for a raise is something that very few people ever look forward to doing at work. That said, it’s an important and inevitable aspect of working life.

When it comes to asking for a raise, there are plenty of things to consider and prepare for. You also need to ensure the meeting is conducted in a certain way to maximize your chance of success.

This article takes you through everything you need to know about asking for a raise, from how to set the scene to thinking about the context, and how to manage the ask to ensure your chances of boosting your earning power are maximized.

Why it’s okay to ask for a raise

Asking for a raise might seem uncomfortable, but it’s often necessary and even encouraged in professional settings. In a practical sense, your salary becomes less powerful as inflation increases. Asking for raises periodically is a good way to combat this.

Additionally, your own value increases over time. If you have acquired new skills or simply have become more experienced, then asking for a raise is not unreasonable given what you can offer the organization. Finally, keep in mind your personal goals, such as buying a house or saving for a wedding. Money makes these goals happen, and asking for a raise because of them is completely understandable.

When to ask for a raise

You should consider the timing of asking for a raise from three viewpoints.

From your own perspective, requesting a raise after completing a significant project or achieving other noteworthy milestones is ideal, as is doing so after receiving a positive performance review or completing at least a year of service. You might also want to request a raise if you have evidence that you’re underpaid.

From your manager’s point of view, select a moment when they’re less busy and have more time to consider your request.

Finally, from the company’s standpoint, requesting a raise after an appraisal cycle has concluded or at the end of the financial year is best. Additionally, consider salary benchmarking and your company’s financial performance before you bring up the subject of a raise.

How to ask for a raise

When requesting a raise, do your best to have the discussion face to face, ideally in a scheduled meeting where you can professionally talk to your boss. Avoid asking for a raise over the phone, through a text message or via email, as these methods may limit discussion or negotiation. If you cannot ask for a raise in person (for example, if you work remotely), try to schedule a virtual call instead.

Ensure you prepare for this meeting diligently. You need to ensure you have appropriate data, supporting information and a plan. Keep the meeting positive and conversational, and do all you can to present yourself and your case in a positive light.

How to prepare your case

When asking for a raise, it’s important to carefully prepare for the meeting; this includes what you’re asking for and how you’re going to ask for it. Here are 10 tips to help you prepare your case:

Step 1: Research salary trends (and identify a range)

Begin by taking the time to understand what people in your role are being paid and if you are underpaid, as well as your location and the complexity of your role. Salary surveys are available for free online, and you can also refer to existing job advertisements that state salaries, or websites like Glassdoor and PayScale.

Once you have this information, it can help you decide how much to ask for. Think about a minimum number in case your employer wants to negotiate.

Step 2: Analyze market conditions

Consider the current job market and the demand for your skills. If there’s a talent shortage in your field, it can make your case for a raise more effective. Think about macroeconomic situations (like recessions), as these might impact your chances of getting a raise.

Step 3: Document your responsibilities

Create a detailed list of your job responsibilities and duties. Be specific about any promotions, additional tasks or responsibilities, or any increased workload you’ve taken on since your last salary review that would make a raise well-deserved.

Step 4: Consider your qualifications

Reflect on how your skills and qualifications have grown since your last salary review and how these relate to your job. Highlight any new certifications, training or skills that make you more valuable to the company.

Step 5: List your accomplishments

Whenever possible, quantify your accomplishments, as this makes them more meaningful to managers. Use numbers, percentages or specific results to demonstrate the value you’ve added, for example: “Increased sales by 20% in Q2” or “Increased employee engagement by 10%”.

Step 6: Schedule a call or meeting

Scheduling a call or meeting with your manager helps them prepare for the discussion and ensures they have the time to speak with you. Diarize the meeting with the manager or their PA, and send them a personal message to thank them in advance for their time.

Step 7: Prepare your arguments

Now it’s time for you to prepare what you’re going to say. This might include market or salary information, as well as framing what you’ve achieved. Ensure you scrutinize this, and structure it to ensure politeness, respect and dialogue.

Step 8: Anticipate questions and objections

Any respectable manager will have questions after you have asked for a raise. Using the information you have prepared so far and your knowledge of your manager, write down potential questions they might have and the answers you would provide.

Step 9: Rehearse what you’re going to say

Rehearsing your pitch for a raise in front of a friend or coworker is a great way to prepare for the meeting. It might even make you less nervous. Do this a few times, and tweak your script depending on how it goes.

Step 10: Take notes into the meeting

Prepare some notes or flashcards to take into the meeting. This will ensure that you don’t get tongue-tied or lose your place. That said, don’t take too much in with you in case you get lost; a few prompts will do.

How to make the ask

In the meeting, there is plenty to think about to ensure requesting a raise goes according to plan. Here are some tips for making the ask:

Step 1: Make eye contact

Eye contact implies attention and confidence. Ensure you maintain appropriate eye contact with your manager, including when talking to them, when they’re responding to you and when asking questions. Consider your body language; facing towards your manager increases the chances of positive eye contact.

Step 2: Mind your body language

Keeping your body language open and positive is important, but also “mirroring” your manager (relaxing when they relax or matching your stance to theirs) builds subliminal rapport that greases the wheels of conversation.

Step 3: Keep things factual

Although you want the meeting to be a natural discussion, do all you can to keep it on point, and reiterate the justification and reasons behind your request for a raise. Don’t “wing” it during the meeting; your manager will know if you’re making things up!

Step 4: Thank your manager

It’s vital that you thank your manager for their time when you start the meeting and again at the end of it. This is respectful and polite. Avoid over-thanking them, though, as it will seem desperate or insincere.

Step 5: Be ready for questions

As mentioned already, it’s very likely your manager will have questions. Be ready for this, listen to what the manager is asking, and take the time to answer carefully, positively and in the way that you want. Don’t be afraid to pause before answering questions.

Step 6: Listen actively

Actively listening shows that you’re engaged. It includes paraphrasing, positive body language, asking questions to clarify, and nodding or smiling. Doing this will foster a sense of conversation and help your request for a raise be received positively.

Step 7: Use positive language

Positive language includes keeping your arms unfolded, avoiding frowning and using affirmative language. For example, instead of saying “It’s not uncommon for this position to be paid at least $40,000”, you can say “This position is often paid $40,000”, eliminating the negative completely.

Step 8: Stay professional

Asking for a raise can sometimes lead to difficult conversations or, in uncommon cases, heated moments. Regardless the direction that the discussion takes, ensure you talk politely and keep things professional. If you get upset or feel the meeting is becoming too challenging, ask if it can be rescheduled for another time.

Step 9: Follow up in writing

After the meeting, follow up in writing to reiterate your request for the raise and thank the manager again for their time. This will keep the request at the top of their mind, and it formally closes off the meeting.

Step 10: Be patient

Some managers won’t be able to decide about your raise very quickly. They might need to check with their own boss, accounting or HR. Give them time to complete these checks and to mull things over. If they tell you they’ll be in touch by a certain date, don’t chase them unless this date passes.

Tips for negotiating a raise

Preparing for your salary negotiation requires you to think about many things, from doing your research to determine how much you’re going to ask for to deciding on the right timing for it.

But what about the actual instance of negotiating with your boss — how do you navigate that?

  • Ensure you’re prepared. This means doing extensive salary research beforehand, taking note of all your noteworthy achievements and contributions, and considering questions they might ask you, like “Do you have another job offer?”.
  • Start with your higher number. Before mentioning your desired salary, talk about your professional achievements. Then, request a pay increase to the higher end of your ideal salary range to give yourself some wiggle room.
  • Stay on top of your emotions. Expressing disappointment or frustration with your boss isn’t going to help; instead, try to accept that you can’t control the outcome, and focus on reaching the best agreement possible — for example, by requesting additional benefits if a pay raise isn’t possible at present.

Example scripts

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to approach the topic of a raise and what to say in these challenging meetings, here are some template samples of scripts for various scenarios that might arise:

Asking for a raise after a promotion

You: Hi [manager’s name], thanks for meeting with me. How are you?

Manager: I’m doing well, thanks for asking. What can I do for you?

You: Well, I’m really enjoying my new role. It’s exactly what I thought it would be and I feel that things are going well. I’d like to discuss one thing related to my role, though.

Manager: What’s that?

You: I would like to discuss my compensation. Since I have taken on my new role, I am enjoying the increased responsibility/managing a larger team/working in a wider or larger remit [add or amend these reasons as appropriate]. Do you have any initial thoughts about this?

[Pause to wait to see what the initial reaction might be]

Manager: That’s good to hear. What kind of salary are you looking for?

You: The salary I am requesting is $50,000. As mentioned, I feel that the time is right to request this raise. I would like to go through the reasons why I am doing so in more detail. [List off your major accomplishments and business justifications for the raise here. Avoid mentioning person reasons like “I am saving up for a house deposit”.] I believe that the salary I have requested is also fair because [briefly explain local salary/market conditions]. Thank you for listening to me. Do you have any questions or is there anything I can go over in more detail?

Manager: I see. Thanks for all that information. I’ll have to take this up with upper management before I can provide a response.

You: I understand, thanks!

Asking a raise after a company-wide salary review

Dear [manager’s name],

Thank you so much for my recent salary increase; it means a lot to me.

Whereas I am grateful for this increase, I would like to see if there any flexibility on this. I have investigated several factors including inflation and market rates for my [job title] in [your industry], and the midpoint is around [add salary]. Therefore, I am asking if you could consider uplifting my salary to [salary].

I am certain that my achievements at work also merit a review of my compensation.  Over the past year, I have contributed to certain key achievements at [company name], including:

[List achievements as bullet points, including measurements and results]

I thoroughly enjoy working at [company name] and look forward to continuing my journey with you and the team in accomplishing great things together. Thank you for considering the above matter, and please do let me know if there is anything that you need from me in considering this request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind regards,

John Smith

Ad-hoc request for a raise

You: Hi [manager’s name], thanks for meeting with me. How are you?

Manager: I’m doing well, thanks, John. How are you?

You: I’m great, thanks. I was wondering if we could discuss my compensation if you have some time?

Manager: Sure!

You: As you might be aware, it’s been [give length of time] since my last salary review. Whereas I understand the reasons for this, such as [give examples of any company circumstances or pay review policies], I feel that now is the right time to request a review of my salary, and I want to provide some reasons why.

[pause here to see if the manager has any initial thoughts].

You: In the last year, I feel that my experience and performance at [company name] has developed positively and in a sustained fashion. For example, I have [list key achievements, example of your role has developed or grown, and projects you have worked on]. Do you have any thoughts on this so far?

Manager: What kind of salary are you hoping for?

You: I am asking for my salary to be reviewed to [give your salary number]. I have given some thought to this, and have researched compensation ranges for my role and discipline which indicate that what I am currently paid is no longer aligned to the market [provide details if needed].

[pause here for the manager’s response].

Manager: That sounds fair, but I’ll have to speak to the stakeholders and get back to you on this.

You: Thank you, and if you have any questions or would like any additional information, I would be happy to help.

Possible outcomes and what to do

When a manager is ready to respond to your request for a raise, there are only really three ways it can go. Here are these possible outcomes and what to do next:

1. They say “no”

In this situation, it’s important to stay professional and respectful as you work through the discussion; reacting in any other way will make the situation worse. Seek feedback and clarity on why the request was refused (for example, there were things you can work on or you have been told “not right now”), and work this into a plan going forward.

If appropriate, consider seeing if alternative compensation could be offered, such as vacation days or flexible working arrangements. Nevertheless, it can be best just to thank the manager and leave this discussion for another day.

2. They want to compromise on the salary amount

This situation can be complicated, but follow your manager’s lead. Firstly, thank them for considering the raise and listen to what they’re suggesting. Sometimes the offer will be for a lower amount than you wanted, or managers will offer other forms of compensation in lieu of a raise, such as vacation days or a bonus.

When you have all the information, don’t feel pressured to decide there and then. Tell your manager you’ll consider the offer and come back to them at an agreed time and date. Only accept the offer if it works for you and consider negotiating it.

3. They accept your request

Congratulations! Firstly, it’s important to thank the manager. You also need to seek clarification on the raise; for example, having the amount and effective date of it in writing, and whether the raise is contingent on performance.

After all of this, the real work begins. Ensure you justify your raise by continuing to perform well. Set newer and more ambitious goals to reach new heights of performance. You’ll also want to review your personal budget to reflect your new salary.

Key takeaways

Asking for a raise at work isn’t always going to end in success, but it’s a rite of passage at work that you’ll need to go through at some point. Here are the key points for asking for a raise:

  • When it comes to asking for a raise, timing is key. Avoid times when the company is in crisis, or your manager is busy.
  • Preparation is vital when asking for a raise. Think about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it.
  • Ensure the meeting is scheduled, positive, and professional.
  • Finally, be ready for questions and prepare responses.

Focus on these key areas, and you’ll maximize your chances of getting the salary you deserve. Good luck!

Got a question? Let us know in the comments section below!

This article is a partial update of an earlier version originally published on July 26, 2017, and contains contributions by Electra Michaelidou.