The Essential Guide to Asking (and Getting) a Raise

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The Essential Guide to Asking (and Getting) a Raise

The Essential Guide to Asking for a Raise

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Is it time to ask for a raise? Do you feel like you are worth more than what you are getting paid? Asking for a raise takes preparation. Although you may feel like waiting until your boss increases your pay, sometimes that never happens and you have to take initiative. This can seem scary at first but remember, it if very doubtful that you will lose your job by asking for a raise.

The Essential Guide to Asking and Getting a Raise

I have been in the corporate world since 2002 and I have over-worked myself and never received any compensation for my loyalty and dedication. I realized there has to be another way, either I can ask for a raise or I can look for another job. Instead of dealing with the hassle of finding another job and adjusting to a new boss, I decided to put on my big girl pants and ask for a raise.

When it comes to asking for a raise, your boss can say “yes” or “no”. How do you improve the odds of getting a “yes”? You make yourself irreplaceable. Are you irreplaceable?

When to Ask for a Raise

Before you ask for a raise, you need to decide if this is the right time. I do not recommend asking for a raise within the first 6 months of working for a company or within 1 year of receiving your last raise.

For obvious reasons, don’t ask for a raise if:

  • You are in a probationary period
  • You recently went against company policy
  • You are the less than ideal employee

The best times to ask for a raise would be:

  • After a big accomplishment or successful completion of hard project
  • If all of your training is up-to-date
  • BEFORE a performance review
  • If your company is flourishing and your division is experiencing growth

Preparing to Ask for a Raise

When you are preparing to ask for a raise, think about your career goals. I know having more money would be great but your raise should be advancement in your career. Remember you don’t need this raise, you DESERVE this raise.

  • Ask for feedback. This should be done before you ask for a raise. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses as an employee and if there are weaknesses, you need to strive to make them better.
  • Take on more responsibility, if possible. Showing that you are going above and beyond goes a long way with upper management. Be sure to keep track of this, you can bring this up when you ask for your raise.
  • Make a list of all your accomplishments, added value to the company, and project successes. This will show proof that you deserve the raise you are asking for.
  • Know how much (and what) you are going to ask for. Do your research to see other competing salaries, hourly wages, and benefits. Yes, you can ask for additional benefits such as more vacation days or bonus. It does not have to be strictly an increase in pay.
  • Practice, practice, practice. How will you deliver your speech? What are you going to say? Be prepared to answer any questions your boss might have for you.
  • Be prepared to hear “no”. If your boss says no, what is your next plan of action? Depending on your career level and loyalty to your company, you could always look for a better job that keeps you on the path of your career goals, or offer other solutions such as working from home 1 day a week or anything that will help you have a better work-life balance.

How to Ask for a Raise

So you are ready to ask for a raise. It is the perfect time; you have prepared all the proof needed about why you deserve a raise…but how do you ask? What’s the approach?

DO NOT ASK IN AN EMAIL! This is a big no-no. It’s tacky and not at all personal. This needs to be a face to face conversation.

Consider this an important meeting. Depending how formal or informal your boss is, first make a mention about wanted to talk to him or her for 15 minutes or so. This can be casual such as passing in the hallway or breakout time after a meeting. Be sure to ask what day and time works best for them.

After the initial mention, send a formal meeting request through the company email system. Only do this if your boss is prefers formal meeting requests. If your boss is an informal person, just show up to their office at the right day and time.

Last but not least, sell yourself. Present your rehearsed speech and answer any and all questions your boss may have.

What to Do if They Say “No”

You gathered up the courage to ask for a raise and they said no. What now? You have 3 options:

  1. Propose another solution that will make you happy such as more vacation days, telecommuting 1 day per week, or a one-time bonus.
  2. Look for other employment that will further your career.
  3. Do nothing and accept it as is.

When considering your options, don’t forget about your career goals. Can you grow with the company or have you plateaued? If there is not growth opportunity, I recommend looking for another job. If there are great career opportunities at your current employer, stay. Remember you can always ask for another raise 6 months from now.

Have you ever asked for a raise? How did you prepare for it?


  1. Love this! There’s always the chance your management can reject your request for a raise (it’s a request, after all). I had this happen when, after a gigantic achievement, I asked my management if I could move from a contract to a full-time position. They said it didn’t make sense for them, and I said it was fine. I tried to negotiate a raise, which they also said didn’t work for them. At the end of it I nodded my head and said, “All right, I understand. But I took this position with the understanding that it would evolve into a full-time position. I’ll be looking for full-time work if that’s not the case.”

    I did end up leaving that position for a full-time position, but I was super proud that I was able to lay my cards on the table. Too often I think we ladies feel like we’re being too demanding when we negotiate, but it’s just part of business.

    • So awesome! Thanks for sharing your story!

      I too was rejected for a pay raise in the past but I was able to negotiate more vacation days instead which was nice.

      Goes to show, there is always a company out there that will notice your worth!

  2. Great tips Nicole! Up until recently I was horrible about asking for a raise. I recently had a proactive talk with my TM about a promotion which was very new for me.

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