How to Ask For a Raise

You work really, really hard, and you deserve to be paid accordingly. Yet you’re still stuck collecting the same salary you earned as a new hire three years ago.

Is it better to suffer in silence and cope with your empty bank account, or should you take the risk of ruffling the feathers of workplace management? Money is always a tough topic, but that shouldn’t keep you from requesting the compensation you have earned.

As long as you follow a few best practices and maintain complete respect during the process, you can ask for a raise and get the results you want.

How to Prepare to Ask For a Raise

You already know you’re worth a few extra dollars an hour, so make sure you can verbalize those reasons to your manager. Rather than approaching the conversation from an aggressive or defensive point of view (I’ve been working here for five long years, where’s my raise?), politely express your achievements using specific examples of projects, cases, and initiatives.

You might even consider writing your entire proposal out on paper. This will help you think through every word and plan a coherent request that doesn’t become sidetracked by your emotions or sense of urgency.

Timing: When Should You Ask?

Though you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a raise, it’s best to time your request strategically. Try to find an opportunity to work your request into the context of an existing conversation or situation. For example, after an annual performance review or conclusion of an important project. Both of these offer the opportunity to discuss salary without the topic feeling random or untimely.

Requesting (And Getting!) a Raise

You’ve prepared your evidence and considered your timing. Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Remember these basic guidelines as you take a deep breath and head into your manager’s office:

  • Be clear about your intentions. “I’m looking forward to growing with this company, so I’d appreciate an opportunity to discuss my salary. Is now a good time?”
  • Be specific to prevent miscommunications and clearly set your expectations. It helps to have your desired salary number prepared.
  • Demonstrate positivity, confidence, and appreciation rather than the impatience, frustration, or fear you might feel inside

Now that you have your mindset ready, make sure you can justify your request for a raise if an in-depth conversation occurs (and you can assume it will!). Even if your manager agrees with your request and becomes your advocate, she likely still needs to clear your raise with higher levels of management.

  • Outline your recent accomplishments that brought value to the company
  • Use available data to prove your contributions
  • Respond to questions logically and tactfully to maintain your credibility

The Bottom Line

Keep in mind that you may need to negotiate or compromise to secure a raise. The exact amount of your raise isn’t the only factor to consider; you also need to establish whether your raise will involve reporting to new colleagues, taking on new responsibilities, or gaining traction toward other advancements in the future.

If you ask for a raise following these guidelines, you have a good chance of success, but nothing is guaranteed. You can always request additional workplace perks if your request for a raise is denied. While additional vacation times, title changes, and telecommuting don’t pad your bank account the same way, they can still make your on-the-job experiences more enjoyable and rewarding.

Read about micro-investing and how to get started with our complete guide: Micro-Investing: What It Is, Why It’s for You and How to Start.