Asking for a Raise | How to Guide

How to Ask for a Raise and Get It

Asking for a raise can be uncomfortable. Many of us are taught not to discuss money at all, and that sentiment ratchets up the anxiety around salary discussions. Fears of rejection or jeopardizing your current role might bubble to the surface, and a lack of understanding about what you should be earning could leave you feeling confused about what to request.

However, you’ve likely developed skills, grown in your role, completed certifications and training, and helped drive forward your company’s business objectives. If so, you can feel confident that you have earned the right to ask for a raise. The bottom line? If you have worked hard and achieved results for your company, then a discussion with your manager about your is merited. 

With that in mind, a bit of preparation and practice will increase your chances of a successful conversation. Here are steps you can take to ensure you know the best way to ask for a raise.

Prepare before asking for a raise

1. Consider why you want a raise.

Have you consistently added value to your organization? Have you met or exceeded expectations? Have you been in your position for more than a year without a pay increase? Are you concerned your salary isn’t keeping pace with the market? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then a discussion with your manager is merited. 

  • Do:  
  • Think through all of these questions and honestly consider the responses. Continue reading for more tips on making this assessment. 
  • Don’t:
  • Doubt your instincts. If you think you deserve a raise, you likely can build a solid case. However, a bit of preparation, as laid out in the next two steps, will go a long way in giving you the confidence to ask for a raise.

2. Research how much of a raise you should ask for.

Understand how your salary compares with the market rate by researching what other organizations are compensating for roles similar to yours. Doing so will give you a solid idea of what you should be earning, ultimately helping you build your case for a raise. 

  • Do:
    • Leverage search tools such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Zippia, and even Google to find detailed information about approximate salary ranges for people in similar jobs in your geographic region. 
    • Ask your manager or HR if your organization publishes salary bands that detail wage ranges for each level. Some larger corporations make this information available to employees. California recently enacted a law that companies with more than 15 employees must include pay ranges in job postings and make salary bands available to employees upon request. These ranges will give you an idea of where you fall on the spectrum and what your leverage might be to ask for a wage increase.
  • Don’t:
    • Be unrealistic in your request. Once you have an idea of the salary range for your position, don’t ask for a substantial amount over the high end of that range. Ideally, you’ll stick within the range and consider how your performance compares with others in your position. If you’re consistently getting results and delivering above and beyond your goals, then you can make a strong argument that you should be at the high end of that range. 
    • Compare your pay with that of a specific colleague when you make your request. 

3. Make a progress list.

Before approaching your manager for a raise, be sure to make a list of skills you’ve developed, projects you’ve completed, and other contributions you’ve made to the organization. Make sure you understand how your job responsibilities align with your business’s overall goals, and how your work has contributed to the company’s success. Arm yourself with this when you approach your supervisor. 

  • Do:
    • Schedule one hour per month to devote to updating your progress list. This will not only ensure you don’t miss any projects throughout the year, but will help build confidence that you have, in fact, contributed to the company’s overall goals and merit a pay increase. This will save you time preparing for performance reviews and shows your manager that you take your career progression seriously.
  • Don’t: 
    • Ask for a raise if you’re underperforming or not meeting goals. 

Ask for a raise with professionalism and confidence

4. Be professional and polite during your raise conversation with your manager.

This is a discussion about why your accomplishments at work have earned you a raise, so your personal situation should not factor into the conversation. 

  • Do:
    • Schedule the meeting in person. If that’s not an option, schedule a video conference or phone call. 
    • Practice your discussion with an accountability partner or in front of the mirror several times. 
    • Come prepared with your progress list and salary research. 
    • Be specific about accomplishments and the value you bring to your organization.
  • Don’t:
    • Reference personal struggles or hardships when asking for a raise. 
    • Ask for a raise via email or text. 

5. Feel empowered that you deserve a pay raise.

Based on the preparation you’ve done, at this point you know you deserve a raise. You have developed skills and contributed much to your organization in your current role. Now, it is their responsibility to listen and consider your request. 

  • Do:
    • Ask for a raise with confidence and assuredness. 
    • Reframe the question if the initial response is “No.” For example, if they tell you they can’t give you a raise due to economic or business conditions, you can ask, “What skills or achievements do you need from me to get promoted?” Or, if they indicate that they require you to accomplish more in your current role, ask, “What specific expectations do you have for me?” Then, follow up with an email to clarify.
    • If the answer is no, decide your next steps. Charge toward the promotion and/or plan to ask again for a raise in the next quarter.
  • Don’t:
    • Stop contributing at work if the answer is no. 
    • Wait another year to ask for a raise.

We hope these tips have given you a solid roadmap to confidently ask for a raise. For more resources, or to run specific questions by an expert in real time, come to YUPRO’s weekly office hours (Wednesdays, 3-4pm ET, free).