How to Ask for a Raise: Smart Tips & What Not to Say

By Myles Leva


Last Updated: April 5, 2023


Asking for a raise can be a scary experience for some.

If you don’t know how to ask for a raise and are shy about negotiating, it can feel risky, even. But it’s a better option to go ahead and ask for a raise. It certainly beats sitting around and waiting when you already know how valuable you are to your employer.

In this article, we will go over how to properly ask for a raise.

We’ll cover the dos and don’ts and leave you with some tips for leveraging your workload and the overall value you provide in negotiations.



How do you negotiate a pay rise?

First, you need to be prepared for the meeting where you plan to ask for a raise.

We don’t mean a time you arrange or a specific meeting during which you ask for one. It’s just that you need to be ready before you ask.


1. Being ready.

“Being ready” to ask for a raise is about being primed to ask with confidence while being prepared to back up what you say.

  • Review your job title and description, and go over your history with the company.
  • Look for any specific accomplishments, including even small stories about how your initiative changed the way something went.
  • If possible, quantify the impact you’ve had on the company.

But make sure you understand industry standards and the average pays for your position.

The other part of negotiation preparation is your timing. While your boss may seem cold and strictly meritocratic, the truth is that we’re all emotional animals to a large extent. That means it can’t hurt to sync your asking up with a time when the person you’re asking is in a pleasant mood.

Bad timing may not ruin your chances, but it probably won’t help.

Timing isn’t just about human emotion, either. Consider the finances of the company and whether now is a busy time for management. If it’s a high-pressure time of the year for them, waiting may help you hedge your bets.


2. Approaching your boss.

When the time is right, approach your boss in a calm and professional manner. Try not to seem nervous.

Request a meeting to discuss your recent performance. Naturally, such conversations can expectedly and appropriately be steered towards discussing compensation. So, whether it’s a performance review or a direct “can I have a raise?”, the point is to get your foot in the door in a courteous and professional way.

During the entire meeting, remain courteous and polite, but firm in your convictions. Avoid seeming (or being) too defensive or confrontational. It’s not an ambush; it’s just a specific, reasonable request. So, be prepared to make a reasonable case to your boss, let them respond, and respond to their response professionally.


What if they say no?

First of all, listen to your boss honestly and carefully, and with an open mind. You can expect some level of concern over your request, even if they are prepared to grant it. You need to be ready for “hardball” questions and some level of testing, at the very least.

You also need to be willing to accept feedback and be open to adjustments on your request. You can walk in proposing a set, new salary. But you need to understand that they may push for a compromise, even if your record clearly seems to be one that should net you a raise.

You may even be surprised by an alternative proposition from your boss.

By that, we mean that they may offer some extra benefits, including financial benefits, over an actual pay raise. You can choose to push back according to your own understanding. But in the worst case, getting 20% of what you were expecting to receive is better than asking for nothing and receiving 0% of it!

In many cases, your request will be flatly denied.

What you can do about that long-term is another issue deserving its own article. But the basic idea is that in most cases, you shouldn’t worry. You can always try again later, and your ambitions are out on the table at that point.



What to ask when asking for a raise

  • What is the company’s policy regarding pay raises?
  • What is the current market rate for someone with my position and abilities?
  • During what timeframe can I receive my next pay raise?
  • Are there any alternative ways in which you can compensate me for my work?



What not to say when asking for a raise

We can’t exactly list specific questions that you “cannot ask” during a meeting about a possible raise.

But there are a few broad “no-nos” that you should always avoid:

  • Don’t compare yourself to your colleagues
  • Don’t make threats/ultimatums (unless you are 100% willing to back them up with action)
  • Avoid sounding or being confrontational overall
  • Don’t apologize for simply asking for a raise
  • Don’t focus on money too much (focus on value provided instead)



Conclusions: How to ask for a raise based on increased workload

The most common reasons to justify a raise are an increased workload, or new responsibilities that exceed previous ones in value.

These factors are the ones you can use to drive your argument home. So, make sure you consider:

  • Recent changes to your actual workload
  • Recent changes in the level of value you provide for your employer
  • Industry standards for those in your position and with your skills

Once you have your answers here, all you need to remember is to be polite, professional, clear, and confident.

Photo by Kindel Media


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