How to Ask for a Raise: 9 Steps for Making More Money
Learn how to ask for what you are worth and stop settling for less.
Asking someone for money is awkward.
Even when you firmly believe that you deserve the money that you’re asking for, the process of asking for it can be incredibly uncomfortable. So a lot of people just...don’t ask for it.
I’ve had multiple discussions with friends and colleagues where they express deep resentment against their employer for not paying them more, but when I ask them if they’ve inquired about a raise, the answer is almost always no.
I was the same way early in my career. I firmly believed that my performance was at such a high level that my employer should reward me with promotions, pay raises, and benefits without having to be prompted, and I was bitter when they didn’t. To a certain extent, it is your employer’s responsibility to recognize you for your accomplishments and compensate you accordingly. On the other hand, you can’t be angry that they aren’t giving you something that you have not asked for.
I learned early on that if you want something, you have to ask for it. And if you’re going to ask for it—you better be prepared to explain why you deserve it.
The following are my battle-tested tips for how to ask for a raise. I’ve used this formula successfully on a number of occasions. If you follow these steps, you will have built a strong case for yourself and hopefully your anxiety will be much more manageable.
Remove emotion from the equation
As is the case for most things in life the calmer you are the better your chances will be.
Try to zoom out and picture this for what it is. A business transaction. This is about facts, not feelings.
This conversation should not be confrontational. You’re here because you believe that your skills and performance are worth more than what you’re currently earning, and you should support that assertion with evidence in a polite tone that exhibits your enthusiasm to grow with the company.
It’s important that your superior walks away from this feeling good about the transaction. If you treat this like you’re cross examining a hostile witness, or twisting their arm for more dough, it’s not likely that it will go your way.
You are not here to make demands or threats.
Don’t try to play on emotions by telling your boss what you need the extra money for. Stick to the facts.
Preparing your case
Be brutally honest with yourself. What have you done to deserve a raise?
I’ve been on both sides of this conversation. I’ve been the person asking for a raise, and I’ve also been the superior who is being asked.
If you come into this meeting with a sense of entitlement and ask for a raise simply because you want one, your chances of success are low. However, if you come into this meeting with clear evidence as to why you’re a vital asset to the team, your chances skyrocket.
Spend some time gathering data regarding your performance and make sure you have a significant amount of ammo leading up to your meeting.
Make it measurable
While you should definitely prepare to talk about a few times that you went above and beyond to help out the team, you should try to focus on measurable results.
If your performance directly resulted in saving the company money, increasing revenue, or optimizing efficiency—these are the types of things that you’ll want to focus on.
Some examples could be:
“In the first quarter of 2021, I increased revenue by 30% compared to 2020.”
“My suggestion to switch shipping carriers has led to a savings of $2,000 per month in shipping costs.”
“I was able to surpass March and April’s sales goals by 15% while also coming in under budget.”
Presenting specific and measurable results will help your case tremendously.
What if your position doesn’t really have “numbers” that you can track to help support your request for a raise? Or maybe the company set goals that were unreasonable so even though you’re performing well, the numbers don’t necessarily reflect that.
Another way to help your case for a raise would be to demonstrate any skills that you’ve added to your arsenal that make you more valuable as an employee.
Websites like Skillshare provide a number of online business courses that you can complete on your own time to make your stock go up with your current employer. (Acquiring new skills is also a great way to build your resume in case you don’t get the raise you want.)
Be prepared to demonstrate the value of your new skills by explaining how the skills you’ve acquired directly make or save money for the company.
What do you want?
Do you actually know what you want? Don’t ask for a raise and then insist that your employer make an offer. They are likely to ask you what you want rather than make a starting offer, so be sure you’re prepared to answer that question.
Standard negotiation techniques dictate that they will likely make a counter offer no matter what you ask for, so you should think about asking for slightly more than you actually want.
Very important: be prepared to justify what you’re asking for.
A quick Google search for “salary comparison” will provide you with a number of tools that will provide a glimpse at what other people with your job title are making in your area. If you can demonstrate that you’re making under the market rate and you have built a strong case of why you deserve a raise, you should be in pretty good shape.
Are you asking for a number that’s above the going rate? You better have a solid portfolio of accomplishments to present.
Ideally, you would time your request right after you’ve had a big win.
Did you just pull in a new client? Finish an important project? Close a big deal? Now is the time to strike.
If that’s not applicable to you, then you just need to avoid choosing the wrong time. Is it the end of a fiscal quarter and your company didn’t meet expectations? You should probably hold off. Has there just been a round of layoffs or budget cuts? Probably best to wait.
Broaching the topic
In a lot of circumstances employers will wait for an annual review to give a raise. If that’s too long for you to wait, you’ll need to be the one to bring it up. This is not a conversation you want to have in passing, and I don’t recommend cornering your boss and putting them on the spot. One way to bring it up in a respectful way is to ask for a 1 on 1 meeting with your manager.
“Can we schedule a time to talk about my performance and compensation package this week?”
With this verbiage, your request is non-confrontational and gives your boss a little time to prepare and process. They won’t feel blindsided or defensive, and you have a better shot at having a productive conversation.
You’ve done all your research and gathered all your data. Now it’s time to get that bread.
Your opening remarks might sound something like:
“Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today. I want to start off by saying I thoroughly enjoy my role here. I think our team works really well together and I’m looking forward to continuing to grow with Wayne Enterprises. That being said, I believe that my skills and experience are worth more than my current compensation package and I’d like to talk about that today.”
Now it’s your time to shine. You’ve got measurable results, new skills to report, and research regarding salary data. Present your case, and then ask for what you want.
An example of your closing statement:
“To summarize, I’ve increased conversions by 20%, earned a certification in copywriting and I’m making under the median salary for my position. With all of this data in mind, I’d like to propose a pay raise of 7%.”
And then stop talking. An uncomfortable silence might ensue. Let it. Lean into it. LOVE IT.
It’s their turn to talk now. They might agree on the spot, and the conversation is over. They may make a counter offer. They might also just say no. But in any event, the next move is theirs.
What if they say no?
Even though you’ve invested a lot of time into building your case, the process really hasn’t even started until you’ve asked for what you want. They might make you a counter offer, in which case it’s up to you whether or not you accept or continue negotiating.
No matter what happens, it’s important to remain professional. If you get emotional it weakens your position and your ability to negotiate. In the event that they offer you less than what you want, or just flat out say no, you still have some options left on the table.
Is there anything non-monetary that you want? Maybe you want a different schedule, or the ability to work from home a few days a week. It’s also common for people to ask for a new title that would look good on their resume—which you may need to dust off if you didn’t get the raise you wanted.
I know how uncomfortable this situation can be, but if you go through all of the steps I’ve outlined above, there is no need to be nervous. You are well prepared to ask for what you want, and you firmly believe that you deserve it.
As the old saying goes, the worst thing that they can do is say no.