Updated December 26, 2019

How to Ask for a Raise

Building Wealth

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You work hard at your job and always bring your “A” game. But you’re starting to feel overworked and underpaid. It’s clearly time to ask for more money from your employer, but what’s the best way? Let’s take a look at how to ask for a raise, how to get the results you want, and what you should do if you don’t.

According to a Gallup poll, 43% of Americans believe they’re underpaid. However, they’re just not asking for the raises they think they deserve.

Another survey showed that 40% of employees aren’t even sitting down with their managers to discuss their careers at all.

If you believe your work is worth more than what you’re being paid now, it’s critical that you ask your employer for a raise. After all, you’ll receive it only if you ask.

This article will cover some of the best strategies and explain why it’s so important to advocate for yourself.

What’s Holding You Back?

Many employees let fear prevent them from asking for the pay they deserve. We all fear rejection, especially when it comes to our careers.

Others of us just don’t feel like asking for more money is even possible. According to research by Jobvite, only 29% of jobseekers negotiated their salary at either their current or most recent job.

Clearly, we just don’t believe our salaries are negotiable.

Women, in particular, are less likely to ask for raises than their male counterparts, even though they’re just as likely to complain about their paychecks.

Asking for a raise is especially important for women, who on average make only 80% of what their male counterparts earn. That gender pay gap will close only if women learn how to ask their boss for a raise.

When Should I Ask for a Raise?

When Should I Ask for a Raise?

When it comes to asking for a raise, timing is everything. But picking the perfect opportunity can be extremely difficult.

Here are some ways to time your negotiations well.

Ask for a Raise When It Makes Sense for the Company

This should be a no-brainer: Don’t ask for more money if your company is in financial trouble.

However, you also should avoid negotiating your pay when management has already set the yearly budget. After all, nothing’s quite as awkward as your boss telling you, “I’d like to pay you more… but we just don’t have the money!”

Avoid this by finding out when the company plans its fiscal budget, and schedule accordingly. Let your supervisor know well in advance — they will appreciate having the extra time to evaluate your performance and make a fair decision.

Ask for a Raise After You’ve Proven Your Worth

Your manager is more likely to grant the request if they think you’re one of your company’s top contributors.

A great time to broach the subject of a higher salary is when you’ve just received a positive performance review. Your boss may even be expecting you to bring it up!

Another opportunity is after you’ve successfully wrapped up an important project. Wait till a time when the value you bring to the team is obvious.

If you know you’re going to ask for a raise soon, start taking on extra responsibilities whenever you can. Show your boss that you’re capable of going beyond your job description and that you’re worthy of increased compensation.

However, if you find yourself taking on extra work — without the job title or compensation to match — don’t expect an immediate reward. Your company might want to make sure you can succeed in the role before giving it to you officially.

Talk to Your Coworkers

Bringing up the topic of money with your coworkers might feel awkward, but it can actually be useful. It can help you determine whether you’re being underpaid (and your boss knows it) or if asking for a bump would be impractical.

Just as learning the market rate for positions like yours helps you determine your real value, finding out what your coworkers make can give you an idea of how much of a raise you’re likely to receive.

In addition, knowing how much your coworkers make can give you additional leverage during negotiations.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can simply demand a raise to match a coworker’s salary. Instead, think of this as one of many pieces of information that back up your argument for more money.

What if your company has forbidden you from disclosing your salary information? It’s actually illegal for companies to implement pay-secrecy policies for most employees.

However, make sure to bring the subject up only with a coworker whom you trust and are on friendly terms with. It can seem especially unprofessional to discuss this topic with new employees.

How to Negotiate a Raise

How to Negotiate a Raise

After you’ve done some research, you’ll have all the information you need to start planning your request. This is the time to identify exactly how much money you’re going to ask for and decide how to ask your boss for a raise.

Schedule a Time With Your Boss

First, you’ll need to set up a time to meet with your boss. Just be forthright and tell them you’d like a meeting to discuss your salary. They’ll know exactly what that means and start thinking about the value you bring to the table.

Make sure to schedule in advance. You’ll feel confident going into the meeting if you’ve taken the time to develop a clear plan for your presentation.

How Much to Ask For

How much of a raise should I request? is another common question among employees who feel underpaid. You could leave money on the table if you ask for too little, but you might not get anything if you push for too much.

It’s important to have firm numbers in mind before you even ask for a meeting. It’s tough to make these decisions on the spot.

First, before the meeting, come up with an acceptable range for what you’d be willing to accept.

At the high point of that range is your target number. This is what you’d ideally like to make. It should be your first offer.

At the bottom of your range is the lowest amount you’d accept before you move on to your career Plan B.

Now, it might be that you really love your job and employer and are willing to stay no matter how small of a raise — or lack thereof — you’re counter-offered. That’s fine too. And congratulations on having a great job!

The Average Raise

It’s worth mentioning that the average raise is between 10% and 20%. So — as a rule of thumb — if you’re currently earning $40,000, it’s not outlandish to expect an extra $4,000 or $8,000 per year.

That’s not to say you can’t earn more in special cases.

Consider Inflation

The value of a dollar goes down each year, so you essentially receive a pay decrease every year you don’t get a raise. If your salary hasn’t changed in a few years, you could be earning substantially less than you initially agreed to.

The inflation rate fluctuates from year to year, but it’s typically around 2%.

Use an inflation calculator to determine how much value your salary has lost since you negotiated last. You should ask for at least enough money to offset the effects of inflation.

Do Your Research

Do some research into typical rates for people in your field for an idea of what you should be earning. If you’re not satisfied in your current position, consider looking passively for other jobs.

Leverage Outside Offers

Don’t be afraid to take offers from the competition to your current company and ask if they’re willing to match. After all, you should always try to work for the business that values you the most.

Prepare Your Presentation

Even if you have good reasons for wanting a raise, it can be tough to effectively articulate them during your meeting. Think about your main points ahead of time and develop notes to help you illustrate your value.

Depending on your presentation approach, this outline could be as simple or as detailed as you prefer. You could jot a few bullet points down on a note pad or create an entire PowerPoint presentation to show your boss. Just do what feels natural to you.

Lead With Your Target Number

You’ll have more control over the conversation if you make the first offer. Tell your boss what you’d like to earn near the beginning of the meeting. Include examples and statistics that demonstrate why you’re worth that amount.

You’re selling your boss on yourself, so it’s important to project confidence throughout the meeting. Ask only for a number you truly feel you deserve, and try to maintain a positive tone at all times.

The pity card doesn’t work with employers. Show your boss that you’re upbeat about your career and the company. Whatever you do, don’t complain!

Respond to Feedback

Highlighting successes is one of your main goals, but your boss might also offer constructive feedback or mention areas where they’d like you to improve.

While it’s tempting to offer excuses for less-than-perfect performance, it’s better to acknowledge the criticism.

Your boss will appreciate your willingness to listen and make improvements, and you don’t want your meeting to devolve into an argument.

Try to get back to your positive points whenever possible, but be prepared to discuss concerns.

Wait for a Response

You may be able to wrap up negotiations in the first meeting, but your boss might need more time. Keep putting everything you can into your job and going beyond your responsibilities whenever possible.

Don’t be afraid to follow up a week or two later if you still haven’t heard back. Remember that your boss might not be the only person involved in the decision — raises often need to be approved by several decision-makers.

Make a Counter Offer

Hopefully, your boss will grant your request and you’ll start making more money. On the other hand, you need to have a Plan B in mind in case that doesn’t happen.

You can adjust your request by offering to take on more responsibilities in exchange for the raise. Convincing your boss that they’ll get a return on that investment may go a long way toward securing the raise.

Even if you don’t get a raise, you might still be able to ask for an alternative. A one-time bonus, a flexible schedule, or additional vacation days could make you feel better about your job.

Don’t Get Discouraged

If your boss doesn’t accept your first offer, don’t let that discourage you for the rest of the meeting. Continue explaining why you feel you’re worth more than you currently earn. If they don’t think it’s the right time, ask what you can do to put yourself in position to get a raise later on.

Once you’ve made it clear that you’re looking for more, your boss will think of you for future opportunities. The meeting could end up being valuable even if it doesn’t lead to an immediate raise.

Develop New Goals

No matter what happens in your meeting, you’ll need to start working toward new career goals. If you earn the raise, you might be thinking of a long-term future with your current company.

If you didn’t get what you wanted, you can still use the information your boss gave you in the meeting to continue making yourself a more valuable employee. This would also be a good time to look for other positions if you haven’t already started. There’s no better leverage for a raise than an offer for more money from another company.

How to Ask for a Raise via Email

How to Ask for a Raise via Email

Meeting with your boss in-person is usually the best way to ask for a raise, but you can also ask via email if your manager works in another location. This section will cover everything you need to know if you’re wondering how to ask for a raise in writing.

Write a Clear Subject Line

The subject line of your email should make it clear that you’re interested in a raise — your manager probably receives a large number of emails every day, so it’s important to let them know the topic of the message.

Stay Professional

Emails related to a pay raise will likely be shared with other people in your company. Even if you and your boss are casual with each other, use a formal tone when asking for a raise in writing.

You can either add your initial offer in this email or wait for them to provide a specific number. If you feel confident that you’re worth a substantial raise, including a high number in your first message puts you in better position to control negotiations.

Explain Your Reasoning

You won’t have a chance to respond to questions over email, so it’s important to tell them exactly why you feel you deserve more money. Remember to keep things positive, and avoid complaining about your current compensation.

Keep in mind that your manager might not be up-to-date on your latest career developments, especially if they oversee a large number of people. Remind them of new responsibilities you’ve taken on or recent successful projects — anything that demonstrates your value.

Suggest a Meeting

Your boss will hopefully approve the request upon reading your email, but they may not feel ready to make that decision. Near the end of the message, let them know that you’re available for a Skype or phone meeting if necessary.

Even if you don’t work in the same zip code as your boss, having a conversation gives them a chance to ask questions and negotiate specific terms. If they request a meeting, use the tips above to create an effective presentation.

How to Ask for a Raise as a Woman

How to Ask for a Raise as a Woman

Research shows that women are less likely than men to ask for a raise. While men generally overestimate their skills, women tend to sell themselves short — even when they’re overqualified.

Women face additional obstacles when asking for more money, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the raise you want. Keep these ideas in mind to negotiate effectively with your boss and earn the salary you’re worth.

(Interestingly, women tend to be better at investing money once they’ve got it. You can read more about that here.)

Document Your Successes

Women often go unrecognized for their efforts in the workplace, so it’s especially important to keep track of your progress. Maintain records of successful projects to refer to when you decide to ask for a raise.

Having documentation of your work history can also help you convince yourself that you’re worth more money. Believing in your own value is the first step toward getting a raise.

Speak Up

Some women — and men as well — assume they’ll eventually be recognized for their performance, but this isn’t always true. Anyone’s performance can be overlooked, but this is an especially common problem for women in the workforce.

Women often have to advocate for themselves twice as much for the same result. You can increase your odds of receiving the recognition and compensation you deserve by letting your manager know that you’re worth more than you’re currently making.

How to Ask for a Bigger Raise Than Offered

How to Ask for a Bigger Raise

What if your employer has announced you’re already getting a raise… but you’d like to negotiate for an even larger amount?

Many businesses adjust salaries each year in response to inflation, performance, and other considerations. That’s great if you get the amount you think you deserve. But what if you don’t? When you’ve already been offered a raise, it might feel uncomfortable to ask for even more.

You may not be able to get the raise you want this year. On the other hand, you can still let your manager know why you feel you deserve more. They’ll be more likely to think of you for a raise when the next round of evaluations arrives. Keep these ideas in mind to navigate this situation and earn more money on top of your annual increase.

Acknowledge the Existing Raise

Even if you were unhappy with your raise, it’s still best to thank your boss for the money you did get. Something is still better than nothing, and managers typically have very limited budgets for raises. The last thing you want to do is complain about your previous increase and ruin your chances for another one.

Once you’ve commented on your annual raise, start talking about the reasons you think you deserve even more. At this point, negotiating for an additional raise works the same way as asking for one at any other time of the year.

Develop Expectations

If your manager is willing to consider your request, ask what you can do to earn a raise next year. Setting mutual expectations for the rest of the year gives you something to refer to next evaluation season.

This could also be the perfect opportunity to ask for candid feedback from your boss. Ask if there’s anything holding you back from a raise or promotion and how you can address the situation. They’ll appreciate your initiative and desire to keep improving.

Continue to Follow Up

The first conversation with your boss is a big step, but it’s important to keep following up. Your manager might forget about your request throughout the year, so send occasional emails to update them on your progress. Ask for ongoing feedback whenever possible to keep them engaged with changes in your performance.

Remember to send another update when you get close to next year’s reviews. Include a short summary of your performance throughout the year and how it compares to the expectations you set. Propose another meeting to go over this information more thoroughly and answer any questions.

How Often to Ask for a Raise

How to Often to Ask for a Raise

It can be tough to decide how long after receiving a raise you should wait before asking for another one. While you don’t want to work for less than you’re worth, you also don’t want to push it too far.

If you’ve recently had a major change in duties or performance, an earlier raise shouldn’t prevent you from getting another. On the other hand, it’s best not to ask for two raises in the same 12 months. Whether you’ve done enough to make an exception to this rule is up to you.

Asking for a Raise After Starting a New Job

Similarly, new hires sometimes feel they’re doing more than was listed in the job description. Most people recommend waiting at least a year in your new job before requesting a raise, but this isn’t always the best advice.

If you’ve taken on significantly more responsibilities than expected, there’s no reason not to ask for a raise after about six months. Let them know how you go beyond the role you agreed to and why what you’re doing is worth more money. That said, your manager may want to see a period of consistently outstanding performance before they approve a raise.

Final Thoughts

There’s no clear answer for common questions such as how to ask your boss for a raise and how much of a raise to ask for, but managers are usually more willing to negotiate than you might assume. Keep these tips in mind to get the compensation you deserve and negotiate the best raise possible.

Once you’ve finished negotiations, keep looking for new ways to make extra money and continue increasing your income.

Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in July 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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