How to Ask for a Pay Raise

ask for salary increase

Are you interested in making more money at your current job? Do you feel like you deserve higher compensation because of your performance?

Employers usually aren’t ready to give you a pay raise beyond the annual cost-of-living increases—even if you’re an outstanding performer.

That means that in order to increase your salary in any significant way, you’ll have to ask for a pay raise.

Promising News About Pay Raises

According to a recent study, 70% of employees who earned $150,000 annually received a raise after asking for one. Approximately 40% of those surveyed got the amount they ask for, and about 30% got a raise, but it was a bit less than what they asked for.

Those numbers are encouraging and definitely indicate that if you feel that you deserve a raise, then it’s worth asking.

Here are some tips on how to ask for a pay raise.

Find Out Your Company’s Feelings on Raises

Your first priority is to understand your employer’s pay practices and how they approach raises.

Start by looking at your employee handbook or your employer’s intranet site. You want specific details about your employers’ pay practices. Is there only a certain time of year where pay increases are considered? Must you be with the company a certain amount of time? You may also want to have a discussion with human resources if you can’t find the information you need.

Following your employer’s guidelines as closely as possible will increase your chances of success. It can also prevent you from putting in a lot of time and energy into asking for a pay raise when there may be policies in place that guarantee you won’t be given one.

Research Market Rates

ask for salary increase

Research what other employers are paying employees who are doing similar work as you. This is what’s known as the “market rate.”

It’s easy to get this information online but use the numbers you get­ only as a guide. The online calculators don’t take always take current market conditions into consideration. For example, there may be an abundance of talent in your area, which will drive the average salary down for your position.

Also, the cost of living in your area impacts salaries as well. If you live in Ohio, then don’t expect to get as high a salary as someone doing your job in San Diego or Boston where the cost of living is much higher.

Outline Your Achievements

Make a detailed list of your accomplishments including specifics about how they helped the company save money, boost sales, improve productivity, retained customers, or any other metric your employer values.

Note any additional responsibilities you’ve taken on. Are you managing more people? Perhaps you’ve been tapped to handle special, high-priority projects. Are you training new hires? This is all worth highlighting to your manager.

One thing you don’t need to mention is how late you work every night. Working late does not equal working hard. In fact, you may be thought of as someone who doesn’t handle their workload well or can’t manage their time. 

Determine Your Pay Increase Goal

Use the industry research you’ve gathered and your list of accomplishments to determine how much of an increase you’d like to request.

You want the increase to be enough to reward your accomplishments, but still within industry guidelines. For many people, that requested increase will be about 10% to 20% of their current salary. 

Meet with Your Manager

ask for salary increase

Make sure you set up a specific time to meet with your manager to discuss your salary. You don’t want to just pop in and surprise your boss with this request.

Schedule the meeting in the morning so both you and your boss are fresh and not stressed from the day. Keep the meeting between 30 and 60 minutes. Before you go into the meeting, brush up on salary negotiation techniques.  

During the meeting, speak clearly and confidently. Tell your boss about your accomplishments and be upfront about the amount of the raise you would like. Back up your request with the industry research you’ve gathered.

One thing to never discuss is why you may need more money. Whether your spouse lost his or her job, your child entered college, or you want to buy a new boat, it’s not relevant to the conversation. Convince your manager that you deserve a raise because of your work performance, not simply need one due to personal circumstances.    

You probably won’t get an immediate answer from your boss. Be sure to leave him or her with a letter that lists your accomplishments and how much of a raise you would like. Then, ask when you can schedule a follow-up meeting.

Be Prepared to Accept Alternatives

The best-case scenario is that you meet with your boss and you get the exact raise you ask for. Even if you walk away with a bit less, consider it a win.

However, if a raise is completely out of the question, you still have options to come away a winner. For example, if your manager says that he or she can’t give you a raise right now, then ask what you need to do to be considered for a pay increase when the time does come. That way, you have a road map to success.

Also, think about what non-monetary benefits you can ask for in lieu of a raise, such as:

  • Increased vacation time
  • A more flexible schedule with work-from-home days
  • A larger office
  • Stock options
  • An increase in commission (if you are in sales)
  • A technology upgrade (e.g., new computer, additional software, etc.)
  • Opportunities for company-paid certifications or training
  • Opportunities to attend industry conferences

The Two Big “Don’ts” of Asking for a Pay Raise

ask for salary increase

Now that we’ve gone over the tips of how to ask for a pay raise, there are two things you should definitely not do.

  1. If you do get the raise, then keep that information to yourself. Don’t go bragging to co-workers. The last thing your boss or his or her peers wants is for every employee to come knocking at their door looking for more money.
  1. Never imply that if you don’t get the raise you’ll quit. Giving your employer an ultimatum never works out in the employee’s favor. Ask for the raise you deserve and stay humble throughout the process.

If you’re turned down, thank your manager for taking your request into consideration, then go back to doing a great job.

Asking for a Pay Raise Isn’t Easy, but is Possible

Even after you’ve planned and prepared, having a salary discussion can be scary territory. But you owe it to yourself to ask for a pay raise if you truly believe that you are a superior performer.

Use the tips above and remain confident. You may come away with a bigger salary as a result. If not, you’ll at least have learned that you can ask for what you’re worth and what your company is willing to pay you for your talent.

And if you still feel like you’re underpaid, then you can take steps to find a new job or work towards a promotion that comes with a higher salary at your current company.

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Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

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