Are you hoping to increase your salary but aren't sure how to ask for a raise? Are you also wondering how much to ask for a raise or when to ask for a raise? Asking for a raise can be nerve-wracking, especially if you aren’t sure how to go about it, but we have all the answers you're looking for.
In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about asking for a raise, including the steps you need to have done beforehand, the best times to ask for a raise, how much you should ask for, and eight tips to keep in mind when you ask.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Asking for a Raise
Before you even suggest having a conversation with your boss about your salary, there’s work you need to do. Don’t ask for a raise until you do the following four things.
Ask Yourself If You’ve Truly Earned a Raise
Everyone wants to make more money, but have you really put in enough work for your boss to justify increasing your salary, especially if you’re asking for more than just a cost of living increase? If you haven’t been expanding your responsibilities and going above and beyond what you’re asked to do, convincing your boss to give you a raise will be a much harder sell.
Do Your Research
Before you ask for a raise, you need to know how your salary compares to the salaries of similar jobs in your area. This will help you come up with a proper amount to ask for as a raise, and if you can show your salary is below the market average. We discuss this more in the “How Much of a Raise Should You Ask For” section.
Have a “Brag List” Ready
In order to get a raise, you’ll need to show how valuable you are to the company so they agree that you’re worth paying more money. The best way to do this is to have a “brag sheet” that highlights your accomplishments.
These should be as specific as possible and ideally include quantifiable numbers. Saying, “I brought on five new clients and increased monthly sales by 15%” is much more effective than saying, “I was a great employee,” or something similarly vague.
Remember That Asking for a Raise Isn’t Rude or Unusual
Many employees worry that asking for a raise will make them look greedy or rude, but this isn’t the case. Asking for a raise is a normal part of having a job, and most employers expect you to ask for a raise occasionally.
When to Ask for a Raise
Timing is everything, and it can be the deciding factor in whether you get a raise or not. There are certain times when you’re more likely to get a raise, three of which we discuss below.
During an Annual Performance Review
If your company does annual performance reviews, these are a great, and often expected, time to ask for a raise. Since you’ll be discussing your accomplishments and goals for the future, discussing a change in salary fits right into the conversation.
After Doing Excellent Work
If you’ve just done an outstanding job on a project or gone above-and-beyond your typical work duties, consider asking for a raise. Your accomplishments will be in the forefront of your supervisor’s mind, and you’ll have concrete evidence of how useful you are to the company.
When Your Supervisor Is in a Positive Frame of Mind
Even if you’re the #1 employee at your office, you’ll hurt your chances of actually getting a raise if you ask when your boss is overwhelmed with work, had a project of their own go poorly, or is dealing with other issues that are distracting. Wait until things are going well for both you and your supervisor before broaching the possibility of a raise.
In all cases, you should wait until it has been at least six months to a year since you either got a new role or received a raise. You should also you only discuss a potential raise when you’re meeting one-on-one with your supervisor, during a time when you both have time for the conversation. This isn't a talk you want to start while passing each other in the hall!
How Much of a Raise Should You Ask For?
Before you ask for a raise, you should always know what amount you’re hoping to get, whether this is a 3% increase in salary, an extra $2000 a year, etc. You don’t need to state this amount right when you ask for the raise, but you should expect your supervisor to ask what you’re hoping to get.
Having a concrete amount you’d like your raise to be will make you seem more prepared and serious, and it’ll make it easier to start negotiations with your supervisor. It also reduces the possibility of your supervisor giving you a very small raise since no amount was specified.
There’s no set amount you should ask for when you request a raise. This is another area where you’ll need to do your research. Most annual raises are between 1% and 5% of your annual salary, with 3% being the average at many companies. Ask around to figure out what other people in similar positions are making. You can also look on sites like Glassdoor and the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics to find what others in your field are making. Set your expectations around those amounts.
Also, don’t start off by requesting a ridiculously large raise thinking you and your supervisor will then negotiate it down to something more reasonable. Doing that makes you look entitled. When asked what your desired raise is, state the amount you’re happy with, and be prepared to back it up with research that shows you deserve this amount (this can include printing out stats of the salaries of similar workers).
8 Tips on How to Ask for a Raise
Once you get to the point where you and your boss are ready to have the conversation about your salary, keep these eight tips in mind when discussing a raise.
#1: Be Confident
Asking for a raise can be intimidating, but try to minimize your nervousness during the conversation. By being confident, you’ll show your boss that you’re serious about this topic and really believe you deserve a raise. If you aren’t confident you deserve a raise, why should your boss be? Many people find that practicing their speech in front of a mirror or other people several times can make the actual conversation go much smoother.
#2: Make It Clear You’re Asking for a Raise
This isn’t a time to be coy about what you’re asking for; doing so will just make the conversation confusing and awkward. If you haven’t already told your supervisor why you’re requesting a meeting, you should begin the conversation with something like, “I’ve learned a lot from [company name], and I feel I’ve also been a strong asset. Because of this, I’d like to set up an appointment to discuss my salary.”
This removes any ambiguity from the conversation and makes it easier for you and your supervisor to communicate honestly with each other.
#3: Show That You’re Valuable
This is the time to bring up the topics you came up with in your brag sheet. You don’t need to list everything you’ve done for the company, but by highlighting a few major accomplishments and making it clear they’re part of a pattern of excellent work, you’ll remind your boss how valuable you are. Remember to make these accomplishments detailed and to include numbers when you can to give concrete evidence of your worth.
Good examples include, “Revenue increased $10,000 since I began working the project,” “Employee turnover has decreased by half and employee satisfaction has increased by 20% since I became manager of this team.”
If you’ve found solid evidence that your salary is significantly below average for your field, you can also bring this up now, but be careful not to sound accusing or bitter. Something like, “Here’s data I collected showing salaries for people in similar positions as mine. Because of my accomplishments, I believe I deserve to be making at or above the average salary for this position” makes it clear what you want without being negative.
#4: Talk About Your Long-Term Goals
In order to show you’re serious about your commitment to your job and will continue to be an exceptional employee, make sure you discuss accomplishments you hope to achieve in the future in your position or a future position.
#5: Don’t Bring Up Personal Problems
Even if you really need the money, this is not the time to mention that getting a raise will really help you recover from a bad investment, pay for your kid’s college, etc. Bringing up your personal problems during this talk isn’t professional will only make your supervisor feel more uncomfortable if they need to decline your request.
This is also not the time to bring up workplace grievances like the fact that you feel you’re working a ton of hours or do twice as much work as another employee. Keep your discussion about getting a raise strictly professional, and only bring up work accomplishments as reasons why you deserve a raise.
#6: Give Your Boss Time to Consider the Request
Many times, even if your boss wants to give you a raise, they need to clear it with other people first. If your boss seems at least somewhat willing to consider giving you a raise, end your request by letting them know you aren’t expecting an answer right this minute, and ask when you can schedule a follow-up conversation. This takes some of the pressure off them to make a decision in the moment.
#7: Consider Other Rewards
If your boss is unable or unwilling to give you a raise, there are other rewards you could ask for, including:
- A bonus
- Increased vacation days
- More flexible working schedule
Think about what other incentives you’d also be interested in having, and be prepared to offer them instead if your boss can’t give you a raise but agrees you deserve some other type of reward for your work.
#8: Don’t Be Discouraged If You Hear “No”
Not everyone who asks for a raise gets one. Sometimes you haven’t been in the position long enough, haven’t distinguished yourself enough, or the company just doesn’t have the money to offer you a raise right now.
If this conversation doesn’t lead to a raise, a good follow-up question is, “What would I need to do to earn a raise in the future?” This will give you and your supervisor chance to discuss concrete actions you can take to put you in a better position to get a raise in the future.
If your supervisor can’t offer you any definite steps you can take to get a raise, or they state that you’re already at the high end of the salary range for your position, then you may need to start looking at a job in a new company in order to increase your salary.
Summary: How to Ask for a Raise at Work
Before you ask for a raise, it’s important to make sure you’ve really earned a raise, have done your research on the salaries of similar workers, and have a brag list of your accomplishments ready.
Not sure when to ask for a raise? The best times are during an annual review, after you’ve done excellent work, and when your boss is in a good mood. If you’re not sure how much to ask for a raise, do lots of research on what other people in your field make so you can be sure your request is reasonable.
If you're not sure how to ask your boss for a raise, keep the following tips in mind:
- Be confident
- Make it clear you’re asking for a raise
- Show that you’re valuable
- Talk about your long-term goals
- Avoid discussing personal problems
- Give your boss time to think about it
- Consider other rewards
- Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a raise
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.