How to Ask For a Raise

Asking for a pay raise is, often, daunting.  You do not want to come across as greedy or unappreciative for the opportunities you’ve been given.  But, you also want to be compensated properly.  Depending on the company, you may be “eligible” for a raise once a year, when the entire company is being evaluated for raises.  Technically, you are “eligible” for a raise at any time, as you are constantly performing and being evaluated by management.  The conversation is usually an awkward one, as it may seem out of the blue from the manager’s stand point, but don’t let this deter you.  Here are five steps to take to asking for a raise:

  1. Exceed expectations in your day-to-day job.  If you do not do this, you should not be thinking about asking for a raise.  Make sure you know your manager’s perspective of your performance - check in with them at your development conversations.  This also means you must know what the expectations are in the first place - if you do not, get that ironed out
  2. Do research on compensation.  Glassdoor is an excellent resource for compensation data.  Explore similar positionsin your industry and geographic area.  This will serve as a benchmark for how much you believe you ought to be compensated
  3. Document your case.  Why should you get a raise?  If you cannot answer this, don’t bother asking.  In documenting your case, note your assumptions and how you impact the bottom line.  Having these available in your arsenal will be critically important, as your manager will likely question you
  4. Set aside time with your manager.  This time may be during your development conversation.  Make sure you have dedicated time to have the discussion - you don’t want this to be something that is brought up in passing
  5. Ask.  You’ve done all the pre-work to get to this point, so simply ask.  You can preface it by saying: “I’ve been thinking about my compensation and would like to have my compensation reviewed.”  Or try: “I believe I’ve added value above expectations in XX way and believe a fair compensation for these contributions is $XX.”  Asking for a compensation review is a softer lead in, but leaves it open for interpretation of the manager with how much.  Asking for a specific amount is more aggressive, but makes it clear what you’re seeking.  I suggest not printing out the documentation of your case, just know that information and be able to speak to it.  Remember: the worst thing that can happen is they say “no”

In asking for a raise, be cognizant of what else is going on at the company.  If there are layoffs going on, it is not the right time to ask for a raise.  And do not ask for a raise because you need more money to afford your lifestyle - this is not a valid reason.  Really think about what you want and why prior to asking.

Thought Starters

  • What can you do prior to a compensation discussion with your manager to make it an easier conversation?
  • When should you ask for a raise?