How to Ask for a Raise at Work: Our Best Tips

Employee: I’d like a raise.

Manager: Oh really. And why should you get a raise?

Employee: I’ve been working for more than a year and I think I deserve one.

STOP!

How many times did the employee say “I” in just two sentences? 4 times! A raise is not only about you, the employee. It is also about what’s best for your employer. It’s important to convince your manager that keeping you as an employee and one that is happy with your compensation is best for the company.

Why Do You Want a Pay Raise?

The cost of living is rapidly increasing, so it’s no surprise that you, like many other employees, are looking for better compensation. This is especially true for workers who feel that their performance has improved since they started at the company and that they are contributing to its financial success.

You may also want a raise as part of your long-term career growth. A higher pay rate can represent progress in your career and motivate you to continue moving upward in your career path.

Think About Why Your Boss Would Want to Give You More Money

Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Why would you want to give someone a raise? Here are some possible reasons to consider giving an employee a raise:

  • A higher wage is well deserved for superior performance
  • Compensation is lower than what the employee could get elsewhere in a similar job and wish to retain your employee
  • Cost of living has increased considerably, making the employee feel like they are receiving less compensation because it buys them less
  • The employee is being considered for a promotion

Before talking to your supervisor, brainstorm any other incentives she might consider before agreeing to a pay increase. Be prepared to discuss the reasons you provide value to the company.

Is it Good Timing for Your Company and Boss?

A clock and calendar representing the best time to ask for a raise.

It’s best to ask for a raise after you’ve achieved a significant milestone or accomplishment, such as completing a major project, exceeding performance goals, or receiving recognition for your work. You should also consider asking for a raise during your annual performance review when your past performance is being discussed.

The best time to ask for a raise may also depend on other factors, including your company’s budget cycle, the amount and timing of salary increases you’ve received in the past, or your company’s overall financial situation. A few months before the end of the fiscal year can be a good time to ask for a raise because most companies set budgets at that time. If your company is struggling financially or has recently laid people off, it may not be the best time to ask for a raise. However, if your company is doing well and has a budget surplus, this may be an ideal time to request a raise.

Prepare in Advance

Know What a Competitive Wage Looks Like for Your Position

Before asking for a raise, it’s important to research industry standards in your area and understand your company’s compensation policies. Research job postings with pay rates for similar positions and talk to colleagues or industry contacts to get a sense of what others with your job title are earning. This information can help you determine whether your pay matches the market rate. If not, it provides room to negotiate for more compensation.

Have a Clear Idea of How Much of a Pay Increase You Want

Pay raises are usually about 3%, but well-performing employees may get more than 5%. Take into consideration how long you have been at the company and how closely your responsibilities match your job description. If you have new responsibilities or are constantly going above and beyond your duties, or you are becoming viewed as a team leader, you may want to negotiate a higher percentage.

Document Your Time at the Company

Bring a record of your start date, attendance record, vacations, and days off (or lack of them). When was your last raise? What are your responsibilities? Keeping a record of your work shows that you’re committed to your job and take pride in your work. It shows that you’re not just looking for a raise, but that you want to be recognized for your hard work and consistency.

Record Your Accomplishments

A person's arm holding a trophy.

The key to getting your desired compensation is to build a case for why you deserve a pay raise. Consider the value you bring to your team and company, such as an accomplishment, important project, or initiative you’ve led or contributed to. Were you the Employee of the Month? Bring it up!

Document your achievements and any positive feedback from other supervisors.  Then be prepared to present concrete examples of your impact on the organization. Often past accomplishments are a good argument for reaching future goals.

Your Contribution Potential Moving Forward

What are your goals at the company? Is there an even higher-paying job that you have your sights set on? From the point of view of company managers, a pay raise is motivation for you to continue working toward those goals. More often than not, encouraging good employees to stay with a company is less time-consuming and more cost-effective than hiring new workers.

Put Your Raise Request in Writing

Putting a raise request in writing can be beneficial for a few reasons. When you put your request in writing, you can clearly articulate your reasons for why you believe you deserve a raise, and you can organize your thoughts in a way that is easy to understand.

Having a written record of the request can also be helpful for both you and your employer. If your employer agrees to give you a raise, keeping a written record of the decision can help ensure that everyone is on the same page about the amount of the raise and when it will take effect.

Putting your raise request in writing also demonstrates your professionalism and commitment to your job. It shows that you have taken the time to think through your request and that you are taking the process seriously.

What to Avoid When Asking for a Raise

Don’t Focus On Your Own Personal Reasons for Getting a Raise

Just because you need extra money doesn’t mean your manager will increase your pay, regardless of how kind they might be. Refer to your accomplishments and how you have contributed to the company’s success.

Don’t Ask While Your Boss Is Stressed

When you are stressed and your son or daughter asks you for something, the answer may be a lot different than if you are relaxed and can think more clearly. Likewise, asking your manager for a pay increase at the appropriate time can make a big difference in whether you’ll take home a bigger paycheck.

Don’t Ask via Email

The email icon with a slash through it symbolizing that you should not ask for a raise over email.

Always ask for a raise in person. Schedule a meeting to show your boss that you are considerate of their time. This will help your boss prepare for the conversation and ensure that you have enough time to make your case. There is also a better chance you will catch your boss in a good mood. Once in the meeting, present yourself professionally and be aware of your body language while interacting.

Don’t Show You Are Upset if the Answer Is No

Be prepared before you ask for a pay raise that the answer could be no. Imagine yourself responding with calmness, thanking your manager for his or her time and consideration. Have a plan B in mind to help you keep your cool.

Also, remember that the meeting with your boss won’t be forgotten by him or his superiors. He knows your goals and reasons for asking for a raise and will mull over the work you put into your case for months to come. If you stay with the company, it is likely that your next raise will be considered more thoughtfully and could very well be a higher amount than if you had not asked for one.

Practice and Record

Before the meeting, practice your pitch and record it to identify potential objections or questions your boss may raise. Be confident when you ask for a raise but open to feedback and discussion. Remember that negotiation is a two-way street, and you may need to be flexible in your expectations or consider alternative forms of compensation.

Reliable employees who work for The Job Post often get increases in pay without asking. Over 20% of The Job Post employees receive a raise while working in a temp job for them. Those who are hired permanently by an employer receive another raise at that time.

Asking for a raise can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with the right preparation and approach, it can also be a valuable opportunity to advocate for yourself and your career. By doing your research, building a strong case, scheduling a meeting, practicing your pitch, and following up, you can increase your chances of successful negotiation and achieve the compensation you deserve.

  • Beverly Mapes

    Beverly is a business owner and operator since 2008 and is actively involved in the human resources functions and employee management of her team members.