How to ask for a raise at work

You might have worked at your company for a long time. Or maybe you’ve recently taken on more responsibility. Either way, you might feel it’s time to be making more money. But directly asking your boss for a raise might seem intimidating.

If this sounds like you, here are a few tricks to help you know when to ask, how to go about it and how much to ask for.

Key takeaways

  • Good times to ask for a raise include when your company is in good financial health and when you think your work performance or tenure deserves recognition.
  • When preparing to ask for a raise, it can help to compile a list of your accomplishments and to research salaries for comparable jobs at other companies.
  • It’s a good idea to schedule a face-to-face meeting with your boss when asking for a pay raise.

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When to ask for a raise

Some times are probably better than others to ask for a raise. And you might need a more convincing reason than inflation or just feeling like you’re underpaid. Here are some situations where it might be reasonable to ask for a raise.

When you've been at the company a long time 

If it’s been a while since you had a merit or cost-of-living raise, it might be worthwhile to bring up a potential pay increase. 

When you've added responsibilities

Does your workload now include tasks outside of your original job description? If you can demonstrate to your boss that your workload has increased, you may improve your chances of getting a raise.

When you have performance reviews

Does your company have regular check-ins to discuss performance, goals or salary? These reviews could be the perfect time to discuss your pay, especially if the reviews are positive.

When your company is in good financial health

Consider the overall health of your company. When the company is in good financial standing, there’s more likely to be sufficient budget for a raise. If you know that it’s struggling financially or if you’ve noticed layoffs or spending cuts, it may be a good idea to wait a while.

How to ask for a raise: 5 steps for success

Talking to your boss about boosting your salary might seem intimidating. Here are five steps you can take to prepare.

Step 1: Write a list of your accomplishments

A written list of your achievements and contributions could show your boss why you deserve a pay increase. Be as detailed as you can when describing the positive impact and results your hard work has had—on you, your team and the company as a whole.

Step 2: Research comparable salaries for your job

It can also be helpful to research the average salary for job titles similar to yours. If you can get a sense of the industry standard and how closely your current salary lines up, it might be easier to determine a realistic amount to ask for.

Step 3: Schedule a meeting with your boss

Once you’ve prepared a list of accomplishments and have an idea about what others are making, it’s time to make your case.

Consider breaking the ice with your boss with an email. It might make you more comfortable going into a face-to-face conversation. And you’ll be able to provide a high-level overview of why you feel you deserve a pay increase before you dive into the details.

Step 4: Make the most of the meeting

Having a face-to-face conversation with your boss—in person or by video chat—isn’t always easy. But it could help you ensure all your points are heard.

Consider rehearsing what you’d like to say before the meeting. This can help you feel more comfortable presenting your case with confidence and professionalism.

Step 5: Prepare for ongoing talks

Your manager might not be able to give you an answer during your meeting. It might require approval from higher-ups, human resources or the finance team. So the conversation about your salary may continue beyond the initial meeting.

It’s also possible that your boss could reject your raise request. If that happens, it may be time to evaluate what’s most important to you. If you’re starting to line up interviews for a new job, it might be worth thinking about how to negotiate your new salary.

How much of a raise should you ask for?

There’s no set answer to how much of a pay increase you should ask for. According to employment website, the average raise percentage at most companies is 3%-5%. But if your raise request also involves a new title, it might be worth asking for a bit more than that.

Asking for a raise in a nutshell

Asking for a raise can be nerve wracking. Speaking confidently about your talents and accomplishments to your superior might feel intimidating or even unnatural at first. But advocating for yourself and ensuring you’re being fairly compensated for your work is an important component of professional life.

If you’ve successfully asked for and received a raise, you might now be wondering how to best manage your new income. It’s never too early—or too late—to start thinking about saving for retirement.

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