How to Ask for a Raise

It’s a conversation that many people want to have, but hesitate to do it. Or worse, they put it off entirely. However, if your career goals and personal ambitions extend beyond the confines of your current paycheck, learning how to ask for a raise from your boss is absolutely necessary.

Even if you have lucked into working for the gold standard of bosses, it might be hard for you to work up the nerve to ask. You’re putting yourself out there on a limb and there’s always a risk that the limb can break. If you happen to be one of those people that has trouble tooting your own horn, here are some tips you can use to try and get that raise that you deserve. Best of all, these techniques work great even if your boss comes across like Darth Vader.

Do Your Homework

Before you ask for a raise, you must do research. Salary surveys are good ways to find the average pay for someone in your position. There are numerous websites, such as, that provide free salary surveys, as well as company and job reviews. Finding the average salary for your position will give you a good starting place to begin your negotiations. Salaries differ by geographic region, so make sure to find the correct figure for the area you live in.  Don’t be the person that walks into your manager’s office in Kansas City and demands to be paid like someone who lives in Los Angeles.

After you’ve researched the median salary for your position, it’s time to shine the spotlight on your accomplishments. You’ll want to be armed with examples of your most exceptional work when you sit down with your boss. Also consider your skills, contributions to the company, work dedication (“One sick day in two years!”), and education when outlining your negotiation battle plan. Furthermore, do not assume that your boss remembers what you’ve done throughout the year, and don’t take it as an insult if he or she needs a reminder. Remember that your boss has several employees under them in addition to their own work load. It can be easy to forget what you’ve done unless it was something spectacular.

There’s a Time and Place  

The time and place when you ask for a raise can be just as important as your negotiation preparation. Before you set a meeting with your boss, familiarize yourself with your employer’s pay practices. If standard practice is to offer salary raises once a year, then it’s unlikely your boss will be receptive to salary increases any other time. Traditionally, the best time to ask for a raise is during performance reviews. But, make sure to read your employee handbook to find out what the correct procedure is for salary negotiations.

Having said that, if you feel you are grossly underpaid after doing your research, bring it up regardless of timing. Don’t be confrontational, but starting a conversation about it shouldn’t bring your boss’ wrath down on your head if you handle it correctly.

The Negotiation

You’ve done the prep work and set up the meeting, now it’s time to actually have the discussion. When you finally sit down to talk dollars and cents, make sure you’re coming across as assertive and confident. Never be apologetic when asking for a raise or negotiating salary. If you act unsure about asking for more money, it’s a safe bet that your boss will be hesitant about giving it to you. Furthermore, they might get a little peeved at you if they think you’re wasting their time. If you know that you’ve put in the hard work, don’t be afraid to ask for a raise—it’s reasonable for you to ask because you deserve it!

During your discussion, focus on your worth, not your need. Telling your boss about personal financial problems like rent and bills is not helping your cause. Companies don’t hand out raises based on who needs them the most, so leave that information at the door. Instead, focus on the hard work you’ve done and highlight your future responsibilities.

If you have another job offer from another company, resist using it as leverage for a better salary. Employers don’t like to be held hostage or given ultimatums and, chances are, they won’t be receptive to this tactic. However, if your request falls on deaf ears, you can use this at a later time.

Be Flexible

It stinks, but even after all your hard work and the professional way you’ve brought the subject up with your boss, you still may not get a raise. Sometimes there are circumstances out of your manager’s control that legitimately tie his or her hands. There may be budget constraints, or possibly, your boss has heard from upper management that the company has instituted a temporary salary freeze. Outside of that, it might be possible to meet your employer half-way and suggest a gradual pay raise over the upcoming year or two. Bottom line—be flexible when you ask for a raise or negotiate a new salary.

If the conversation doesn’t go the way you want and you don’t see any relief in sight, then it might be time to start contemplating a move to another company if you must. But, outside of that, now is the best time for you to get what you’re worth and ask for a raise.

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