Discussing your salary can be extremely nerve-racking. Asking your boss for a pay raise is even more intimidating.
In fact, some people will wait months (or even longer) after getting promotions or taking on new responsibilities before asking for a pay increase. And women in particular are four times less likely to ask for a raise than their male counterparts.
It’s understandable why that conversation can cause so much anxiety, but it doesn’t have to.
If you do your research and choose your words carefully, you’d be surprised how easy and painless it can be to ask for the pay you feel you deserve.
When Should You Ask for a Raise?
In most companies, wages are usually revisited on an annual basis, often around the time of your performance review.
Although there might be many reasons to ask for a raise, the most common signs that you’re due for a pay increase are in one of the following situations:
- You’ve been promoted
- You’ve taken on new responsibilities
- You’ve been doing outstanding work for a year since your last performance review
How to Ask for a Raise
Follow these tips if you’re planning to ask for a raise at work.
1. Discuss Your Goals and Progress Often
Long before you ask for a raise, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your boss or supervisor about your goals.
If you keep your boss informed about your goals, they’ll be better able to offer you advice and feedback, and even direct you toward certain opportunities that might interest you.
You’ll also want to make sure that your boss is up to date on your progress. If you accomplish something significant, ensure that it’s documented and communicated.
By making your successes well-known to your boss, you’ll have less work to do when making your case for a raise.
2. Take on More Responsibilities
One sure way to put yourself in line for a raise is to take on more responsibilities—and to manage them well, of course.
If you see opportunities to improve certain processes, discuss them with your boss and see if there are any projects you can take on to streamline things.
Likewise, if a new employee needs training or someone needs to pick up the slack for an employee on leave, consider volunteering and take that opportunity to shine.
Learning how you can be a better employee and become an invaluable asset to your company will put you on the fast track to a raise, and perhaps even a promotion.
3. Find the Right Timing
Sometimes timing is everything, especially when you’re asking something of someone else.
Tune into your emotional intelligence when choosing the right time to approach your boss. If they seem to be particularly stressed or distraught on a certain day, you may want to postpone your chat until they seem to be in better spirits.
In addition, it’s usually wise to ask for a raise following a major accomplishment.
If it’s your intention to ask for a raise, don’t let too much time pass after you locked in that important contract or found an innovative way to save the company thousands. It’s best to do this while your epic work is still fresh in people’s minds.
4. Focus on Your Accomplishments
When making your pitch, focus on how you bring value to the company. Remember that your main points should be evidence of why you deserve a raise, not why you need one.
If it’s honestly hard for you to make ends meet, then of course you probably want to make your boss aware of that. But in most cases, the amount it takes to support your lifestyle is not really your boss’s problem, as harsh as that may sound.
Before approaching your boss, make a list of your 3–4 most significant accomplishments since your last raise. Don’t overthink it; this may be surprising, but if your boss is at all reasonable, she probably doesn’t need a 30–minute presentation with witnesses to convince her you’re deserving of a raise.
In fact, the whole thing should take you a few minutes max. See our example in the sections below for what you might say to ask for a raise.
5. Set a Meeting
Discussing your salary is something that’s best done in person, or at least through a video call if you work remotely.
Plan a meeting in advance with your boss. This way, you’ll both have each other’s undivided attention, and you can talk privately without feeling rushed.
6. Be Confident
If you truly feel you’re deserving of this raise and that the number you’re asking for is fair, you’re probably right.
Believe in your capabilities and your value as an employee. Present your case briefly, with confidence, and without begging.
Remember that the worst thing your boss can do is say no. Unless you’re completely tone deaf, it’s unlikely that your request for a raise is going to change your boss’s perception of you for the worse.
How Much to Ask for a Raise
If you’re planning to ask for a pay increase, it’s usually best to have a specific number in mind.
You’ll want to make sure that you’re not undervaluing yourself, while also not asking for too much, in which case you’ll risk looking out of touch. Finding the perfect target number will require you to do a little homework.
Do Your Research
If you’ve just been promoted to a new position, then you’ll want to base your target number on the average starting salary for that position.
Do your homework by using sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Payscale to get a feel for the average wage for your job. This should help you to come up with a number that’s reasonable for your experience and your geographic location.
If you’re asking for a raise during your annual review period, 10% above your current salary is usually appropriate, according to CNN Business.
Sample Script for Asking for a Raise
As we’ve already mentioned, requesting a raise doesn’t have to (and in fact, shouldn’t) entail a lengthy speech or show trial performance.
Keep it short, sweet, and direct. It’s best not to sound too over-rehearsed, but you can use the following sample script to plan the gist of what you want to say:
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. Since I’ve taken on several new responsibilities this year and I feel I’ve done a consistently good job in my role, I’d like to revisit my salary.
Since my last performance review, I’ve [list of 2-4 significant accomplishments that highlight the value you bring to the company].
That being said, based on the performance I’ve given thus far and on my research of similar positions, I feel that the appropriate salary for my position would be [X amount you’d like to ask for].
However, I’m of course open to discussing this with you and hearing your thoughts so we can come to an agreement that works for both of us.
Download our sample template to plan exactly what you’ll say to get that raise.
Ask for a Raise with Confidence
If you believe you’re due for a raise, don’t be afraid to speak up and schedule a discussion with your boss.
Follow our tips above and speak with confidence. You might be surprised by how easy it is!
Have you ever asked for a raise? How did it go? Share your experience in the comments below!