You work hard for the money, but are you really getting paid what you deserve?
Whether this is your first time positioning yourself for a raise or you’re a seasoned professional, it never hurts to do your research. Asking your boss for a raise can be a critical step in your career growth. This article is your ultimate guide to asking for a raise (complete with a handy checklist), designed to help you increase your chance of success.
How to ask for a raise
There’s more to getting a raise than simply sitting your boss down and asking for more money – there are several steps you should take beforehand:
5 easy steps to asking for a raise
Analyze your personal performance
Do your salary research
Find the perfect time to ask
Come prepared and practiced
Lead with confidence
This step-by-step guide will lead you through each step and explain the importance of coming to a meeting with your boss prepared, practiced, and precise.
Looking for specific information about asking for a raise? Use the links below to jump ahead:
The first question your boss might ask you when you ask for a raise is why you think you deserve one. It’s the most important question you should be prepared to answer during this process. You’ll want to be proactive in answering this question by creating a list of reasons you believe you deserve a raise based on your performance.
There are countless ways to measure success in your job. It will be to your benefit to create a list of personal successes that highlight how you have helped the company succeed. Take an hour out of your day and jot down all the successes you’ve had over the last fiscal year.
What to include in your personal assessment:
Any big accounts you’ve helped close or retain
Any new processes or efficiencies you’ve helped create
Any major projects you’ve worked on or managed
Any metrics or numbers you’ve improved over the last year
Any extra responsibilities you’ve taken on since you started your job
Once you’ve created this list, you should isolate the three biggest wins you’ve had and gather the numbers and proof you’ll need to make your case. This will keep you from overwhelming your boss with too much information and you’ll avoid looking unprepared.
Now that you’ve listed the reasons you deserve a raise, it’s time to decide how much those accomplishments are worth. There are numerous free tools available online that can help you put a real dollar value behind the things you’ve accomplished.
These reports will assist you in approaching your boss with unbiased market research and data. You should bring at least two of these reports with you to show the data isn’t a fluke and that you’ve done your research ahead of time.
What are some salary data websites you can use to find your true value?
These websites measure your estimated salary value based on your location, experience, skillset, and more. All four of these websites are free to use and only require an email address to create an account.
When should you ask for a raise?
It can be tempting to schedule your boss for a meeting as soon as you have all this information gathered, but that’s not always the best strategy. The best time to ask for a raise is when your boss isn’t swamped with work and can fully consider your proposal without distractions.
Leading up to your company’s end of the fiscal quarter or year
After your company has had a very profitable quarter or year
Find out when your company plans the budget for the next fiscal year before you ask. You can increase your chances of success if you ask for your raise when your boss has more budget to work with.
How should you ask for a raise?
Once you’re ready to ask your boss for a raise, you should send them an email to schedule some time to discuss your potential raise.
Your email asking for a meeting with your boss should be concise and to the point. You shouldn’t avoid the topic of asking for a raise in your email but you should keep the details brief.
Presenting your research and asking for a raise in person will be more impactful than asking via email for a couple reasons. It will eliminate any miscommunication that can come from conversations that aren’t had face to face. It will also give you a chance to show your boss your confidence and showcase the thought and care you’ve put into your request.
You’ve got a meeting on the books and you’re ready to make your case. Remember to relax and lead with confidence when you sit down with your boss to discuss a raise. You’ve already done all the hard work and prepared yourself for this meeting!
The key to making a convincing case is focusing on why you deserve a raise. Reference both the list of your accomplishments over the last year along with the salary research you did earlier to drive your point home.
Tip: Avoid giving any ultimatums regarding a raise unless you’re ready to walk away from your job.
Be ready to answer any questions your boss may ask you about your performance or the research you’re bringing to the table. These questions are an opportunity for you to show that you’ve done your homework and know what you’re talking about – so embrace them!
What if you don’t get the raise?
There’s always the possibility that you may not receive a raise despite your hard work and research. There are many reasons your first request for a raise may have been denied. This doesn’t mean a raise is out of the question, it just means this may not have been the right time.
Not getting the raise can be frustrating, but that doesn't mean you should give up right away. Sometimes there are factors beyond your control that have prevented your raise. Maybe you're just not ready yet. Either way, there are two paths you can take after being denied a raise.
What to do if your boss doesn’t give you a raise
The first is to work with your manager toward a resolution at your current company. Start by asking your boss for their reasoning for declining your raise and then working to create a plan that you can work toward over the next year. During this time you should proactively follow up with your manager and continue working hard.
The second is to consider other opportunities. If your manager refuses to help you map a path toward growth in your company or is dismissive of your goals, then you may want to consider moving on in your career.
Whichever path you choose, the skills you’ll acquire during this process will help carry you forward in your career and help you become a master negotiator.
Now that you know to negotiate, find further ways to advance your career with in-person with our career advice hub.
Lauren Pope is a former content marketer at G2. You can find her work featured on CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, the G2 Learning Hub, and other sites. In her free time, Lauren enjoys watching true crime shows and singing karaoke. (she/her/hers)