Career & Finance

How to Ask for a Raise


When it comes to your professional life, you’ll likely deal with a number of scenarios that make your palms sweat: tight deadlines, demanding bosses, uncomfortable job interviews, nerve-wracking presentations. But one of the most anxiety inducing may be asking for a raise.

It shouldn’t be that stressful, should it? After all, you’re simply having a conversation with your superior about how to financially reward your strong efforts. But, for some reason, marching in and demanding what you’re worth is enough to make your stomach flip and your knees buckle. Right?

Unfortunately, if you want to continue to climb the ladder both financially and professionally, asking for a raise isn’t something you can avoid for the rest of your life. After all, many people aren’t inclined to give you something unless you actually ask for it. And, as women, it turns out we’re usually way less aggressive when it comes to asking for a pay increase. According to a survey of 2,000 men and women reported by the Wall Street Journal, only 43% of women said they had ever asked for a raise—compared with 54% of men. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time we change that.

So, here are five tips to help you approach your manager and ask for a raise with poise and confidence. Don’t worry, you’ve got this!

1. Analyze Your Performance

Before gathering your courage and requesting a time to speak with your supervisor, it’s important that you consider whether or not you actually deserve an increase in compensation.

“Of course I do!” You’ve probably thought to yourself, “I’m an excellent employee!” And I’m sure that’s true. But, receiving a raise is about demonstrating that you’ve gone above and beyond expectations—not just checked off all of your regular job duties. So, it’s crucial that you do some self-reflection about why now is the right time for you to request a pay increase.

Want a simple way to do this? Think back to your most recent performance review. Did your boss point out a few areas where you could stand to improve or some skills that you should refine? Have you actually worked towards growing in those directed areas? If so, then you have solid ground to stand on.

Remember, before you can convince your boss that you deserve a raise, you need to believe that you’ve earned one.

Before you can convince your boss that you deserve a raise, you need to believe that you’ve earned one.

2. Do Your Research

So, you’ve determined that your performance warrants a salary increase and you’re planning to approach your manager with the request. Great! But before setting that meeting, there’s one more step you should take.

It’s important that you do your research on a couple of different things. First, you want to take a look specifically at both your boss’ and company’s current position. Has your employer been doing really well lately and is in a place where a raise would be realistic? Or, have they been going through a round of stressful layoffs meaning a raise is probably out of the question? Or is your boss presently swamped by an overwhelmingly large project? Is now an acceptable time to approach him or her with this information?

As with anything, timing is important. Make sure you evaluate the current circumstances to ensure you’re not picking a terrible time to make your request. Asking for a raise is stressful enough, so you at least want timing on your side.

In addition to getting a handle on your current work environment, you’ll also want to do some digging so that you can approach your manager with a specific number. You don’t want to waltz into your boss’ office and simply demand more. Instead, you should have a clear idea of what specifically you’re asking for.

Typically, a 1-5% pay increase is standard for a merit raise. You can also use an online tool like PayScale in order to get an idea of what others in your career field are making. Just remember to be realistic with your demands. If you request too big of jump, you might not be taken seriously.

3. Set a Meeting

It should go without saying that requesting a raise is something you absolutely need to schedule a formal meeting for. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s something that you can simply mention to your boss in passing, as it will likely either be brushed off or completely ignored. In contrast, a sit-down meeting shows that you’re informed, prepared, and serious about what you want.

Once you’ve done your homework and are ready to ask for a raise, send your boss a brief email to notify him or her that you’d like to have a chat. Don’t panic, it doesn’t need to be anything overly complicated or dramatic. Try something simple like this:

Hey [BOSS’ NAME], I was hoping that we could schedule a time to sit down and chat about my current position, my performance, and my future with [COMPANY NAME]. Do you have any time in your schedule next Thursday or Friday? Let me know what works best for you. Looking forward to our chat. Thanks, [YOUR NAME]

It’s short, concise, and gets your point across. Now, if only the actual meeting was that simple!

Doing your research about comparable salaries is one thing. But, you also need to be prepared with some actual evidence as to why you deserve the raise you’re requesting.

4. Come Prepared

Doing your research about comparable salaries is one thing. But you also need to be prepared with actual evidence as to why you deserve the raise you’re requesting.

Remember, your boss doesn’t walk in your shoes all day, every day. In most cases, your supervisor is overseeing numerous people and is constantly juggling different tasks and assignments. So, those successfully completed projects, client compliments, or small successes that you’re so sure are on your manager’s radar? Well, they just might not be.

Before heading into your meeting, pull together a few of the things that really exemplify why you deserve this pay increase. Perhaps it’s a document detailing a large project you completed or maybe it’s the impressive stats from a recent campaign you successfully launched on your own. Get your hands on whatever you need in order to demonstrate to your boss what an exemplary (and deserving!) employee you are.

5. Be Confident

We all know the saying “Confidence is key!” This sentiment rings especially true when you’re asking for a raise. You need to present yourself as a polished and accomplished professional, not a fidgety meek employee who can’t maintain eye contact.

Speak in a clear, self-assured tone. Maintain great posture. Make sure you look your boss directly in the eyes. And make every effort to stop playing with your hair or the hem of your sweater. Before entering your supervisor’s office, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, and prepare to show your boss how successful and pulled together you are!

There’s no doubt about it—gathering your courage to request a raise is enough to keep you tossing and turning at night. But, just think about it this way: The worst that can happen is that your boss turns you down. And, while that may not be the desired outcome, you can rest easy with the knowledge that you made your desires clear and even gain some helpful insights into what you can do to improve your chances of a pay increase soon.

So, don’t stress. Put these tips to work, try to calm your nerves, and go out there and get what you deserve!


photo by Wing Ta of Canary Grey for The Everygirl