How to Ask for a Raise at Work

Asking for a raise can be tough, especially in today’s economic climate. But the truth is that with the right approach and understanding you can have a much better chance of not only getting a raise, but increasing your boss’ respect for you and valuation of your work. Here’s how.

When to Ask for a Raise

The first question that comes up for many people on the topic of asking for a raise is simple: when should I ask for a raise? In general it is a good idea to consider asking for a raise after about one year or more since your salary was established.

In addition, if your title has recently changed or you’ve taken on a lot of new responsibility this can also be the ideal time to broach the subject. Be in tune with how your higher-ups are responding to your work, the time since your salary was last set and any new responsibilities and then make your next move.¹

Make Yourself Look Like a Million Dollars

OK, this headline is a bit exaggerated, but you get the picture. Before asking for a raise, dress the part and groom yourself well. Even though appearance certainly isn’t everything, the way you present yourself reflects on your professionalism as a whole and is likely to result in a potentially more positive reaction when you ask for a raise.²

Prepare Ahead of Time

It’s true that asking for a raise isn’t a school exam, but still, you should prepare ahead of time and come up with a convincing list of reasons why you’re worth more than you’re getting.

Refer to specific projects or work you’ve done rather than being vague. Also look up average salaries in your industry so you can reference a benchmark of what you feel is a fair salary for your position. Always focus on why you deserve a raise and what you bring to the organization, rather than why you need or are “entitled” to a raise.³

Have a Plan B (and C)

It’s entirely possible that you will be told a raise is not currently a possibility. In that case have a Plan B and C in your back pocket. These could include changes to your schedule, branching out in a new direction on a project or file, doing a side project or many other things such as an upcoming industry event you want to go to. If you get told no for a raise, you easily might get a yes for something else you want.⁴

Don’t Be Self-Conscious

It’s important to realize that bringing up the subject of a raise is not selfish or desperate. It’s entirely normal and reasonable to ask for more money for your job, assuming you aren’t wanting double the salary or to work one day a week instead of five.

Your boss and the organization will respect that you have straightforwardly stated the value you feel you’re bringing the company and the financial compensation you believe it merits. Be up front and direct, there’s no shame in asking for a raise.¹

Choose Your Moment

In addition to knowing what you want, preparing, looking the part and being self-confident, it’s important to time things right when asking for a raise.

Don’t ask just after the new sales numbers show your company dipping into the red, or after colleagues have mentioned the boss is going through a messy divorce.

Choose to ask after an annual performance review has given you glowing praise or after sales numbers have wowed the whole company. You’re likely to get a much more favorable response.³