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A step-by-step guide on how to ask for a raise

Want to ask for a raise? Here’s how. Imagine a world where your boss hands you a wad of cash because they have recognized all your accomplishments and believe you deserve a pay raise. Wake up because that’s likely not going to happen. You will normally need to make the first move for that to become a reality.

While the thought of requesting a salary increase can make you break out in a cold sweat, remember that, at worst, your boss will say no. It’s still the step you may have to take to get the pay increase you deserve and an upwardly mobile career path. Workable is here to guide you through the process with tips on how to ask for a raise and steps to guide you through the process. 

Asking for a raise: some do’s and don’ts

Our Great Discontent Survey on employees found that 7 out of 10 people are actively or passively job hunting. The Great Resignation saw over four million Americans quitting every month for more than a half year, resulting in companies creating employee retention programs to hold on to their most valuable assets. 

This is an opportunity for employees seeking to earn their market value. However, while employers dread the expense of replacing an employee, there are certain practices when asking for a salary increase that are frowned upon.

  • Do your research. There are many places to gather salary data from. Whether it’s from the job market, online salary estimators, or co-workers (depending on your company’s policies), take proactive steps to know your worth. 
  • Don’t use another job offer as leverage. Your boss wants to invest in an employee who’ll grow with the company. An ultimatum will just make them question your loyalty.
  • Do know when to ask for a raise. Keep an eye on your organization’s financial policies and budget planning. If you or your company haven’t performed well, your request will probably be denied. Occasions such as annual performance reviews, the conclusion of successful projects, and the development and adoption of new skill sets and responsibilities are ideal opportunities to review your salary range.
  • Don’t emphasize how much you need an increase but rather why you deserve it. While the Russia-Ukraine situation is hiking up inflation due to increasing oil prices, this is not a good enough reason to ask for a raise. Employers are focused on your performance and contributions to the company – so keep personal matters out of the discussion.

3 steps to prepare for a salary review 

  • Prepare your argument

Don’t expect your boss to have noticed all your achievements. It’s a good idea to proactively mention your accomplishments or new qualifications as they happen, so your employer already knows you’re deserving of a raise when you make your request. If you haven’t been doing that, collect case studies with specific details and data of how your work has impacted the bottom line or productivity. This could range from increased revenue to customer satisfaction to streamlining processes. The numbers never lie.  

  • Schedule a meeting

Requesting a pay raise is not a discussion that can take place over email. Contact your boss to set up a formal meeting, making it clear what it will be about. Make sure there’s enough time for you to prepare for the conversation and for your employer to start considering how they’d address the topic. If you have an annual review coming up, let your supervisor know in advance that you plan to discuss your current salary

  • Rehearse what you’re going to say

While it shouldn’t be a recital, having a good idea of your key talking points will boost your confidence. It will also give you insight into possible questions you might face, so that you can come prepared with ready answers. These could be about your salary research, your accomplishments, or long-term goals.

What to say and do when asking for a raise

It’s the big moment, and you’re ready to lay down your cards. Dress like a powerhouse to bolster your courage even if you work in an informal environment. Sit in a chair that allows direct eye contact while maintaining positive and confident body language

Here are points to include in your pitch:

  • Thank your manager for taking the time to meet with you.
  • Express how you’d like to grow with the company and mention your career goals.
  • State a specific percentage or amount you think would be a fair increase.
  • Back this up with your salary research and achievements.

Possible outcomes of salary negotiations

After you’ve fielded your manager’s questions, they’re ready to communicate their decision. Here are some of the responses you could get:

  • They say no to your salary increase request

While it can have a deflating effect, consider this a practice round for your next salary review. Discuss how you can get to a higher salary within a certain time frame. These could include taking on more responsibility or adjusting your goals. It could also be an affordability issue. If that’s the case, consider asking for perks instead, such as extra vacation time or remote working opportunities. If you feel the rejection is unjustified, such as in the case of a gender pay gap, report the matter along with your evidence to HR. 

  • They want to compromise on the salary amount

It’s your choice to decide if you’re willing to negotiate your position on money. Ask yourself if the raise you requested truly reflects your abilities and contributions and if it’s a realistic expectation. If your boss is offering perks in lieu of an increase, but you’re set on receiving a salary raise, discuss a direction that will lead you to your goal in the foreseeable future.

  • They approve your request for a raise

Yes, all your hard work has paid off! But don’t jump for joy just yet. Ask questions to clarify what’s expected of you. Will there be additional responsibilities? Will you report to the same people, and will the same people be reporting to you? Have your task criteria or job description changed? Now it’s over to you to increase your productivity or quality of work to show you’re worthy of the raise you have been given. 

No matter the outcome, follow up the meeting with a thank-you email, reiterating the final decision and action plan.

Final thoughts 

Some people go years without asking for a raise because they fear appearing greedy or ungrateful. Starting the conversation is beneficial for both you and your boss. It will give you a better idea of your value, and your boss can take steps to keep you on board. Typically, companies review their employees’ salaries annually, but that’s not always the case. If it’s been a year since your last salary increase and your work has been objectively superb, go ahead and request that pay raise.

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