How to Ask for a Raise

February 25, 2020


You believe you’re due for—and have earned—a raise. But if you’re like most people, you feel extremely uncomfortable asking for one. When it comes to money, we’re afraid to be perceived as aggressive or entitled. It’s important to know, however, that managers expect employees to ask for raises—because we all work to earn money.

So what’s the best way to approach the boss and the best time to do so? Here are strategies to help pave the way for a great review and a higher salary.

First off, know when to ask. If you’ve been with your company at least a year, feel free to approach your boss to set up a meeting. (If your responsibilities have increased substantially within that year, bringing up the subject earlier is also appropriate.)

Of course, many organizations give raises at set times—say, on the one-year anniversary of a hire or during a company-wide annual review. If that’s the case, you need to explain why you’re deserving of a raise at that specific time. Seek to learn beforehand if raises will be given within precise percentages. (“This fiscal year, all raises will be between 2% and 5%, dependent upon performance.”)

Before sitting down with your boss, list the reasons you deserve a raise. Did you help a coworker complete a big project? Take on extra work and turn in outstanding results? Initiate a project and see it through to a successful conclusion? Do you now oversee another admin? You need to explain why you deserve a raise, not why you need one, say, because you’ve just redone your kitchen.

No matter what your achievements, hopefully you’ve communicated them to the boss as they occurred by dropping him or her an email after the completion of a project or during a weekly meeting. Then, come raise time, they’ll be well aware of your outstanding work.

After making your pitch, know that you won’t get an immediate answer. Ask about the timeframe for a decision, then check in with the boss just around or just after the time mentioned.

If the answer is no—because there’s no money for raises for anyone this year—perhaps your manager would allow you to work from home one day a week, give you extra vacation time, or pay for advanced training.

On the other hand, if the answer is no—because your work is subpar—set up a new meeting with the boss to discuss where you’re falling short, what you need to do to improve, and how you’ll both know what success looks like.


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