How To Ask For A Raise

Does the thought of asking for a raise make you quiver and shake? Would you rather go to the dentist, have a 12-hour layover in Cleveland, or step on a Lego than ask your boss for more money? You’re not alone. Most people would rather make less money than ask for a raise. Why? There is an unnatural fear of asking for a raise that stems from more common fears like failure, thinking you’ll be laughed at, thinking you’ll be made to feel stupid, or worrying that asking for more may result in your termination. The reality is you manager will probably not do any of those things to you. As long as you are not threating to quit, being overly demanding, or acting resentful, asking for a raise isn’t going to result in some negative catastrophe. When done properly, the worst thing that can happen is they say no to your request.

But, of course, you don’t want them to say no. You want them to say yes! Here’s how you can get the answer you want:


  1. Make it easy for your manager to say yes. Look at your request from their standpoint.
  2. Provide value that justifies the raise and your manager’s decision to give you a raise.

 Your manager is human. They want to make good decisions, they don’t want to be forced into a decision, and they don’t want to defend the decisions they made. That’s why your ability to make yourself a “safe bet” will be key when influencing your manager to pay you more.


Management and your coworkers should see the value you bring and the value you add to the company. Do your best to make it easy for your manager to see why you’re worth more. Remember, your peers may find out about your raise. Management must be able to clearly justify your raise to the rest of the staff to avoid any resentment or a chain reaction where everyone demands more than they’re worth.

Your Personal Evaluation List

To better explain your value, you need to create your “value list”. Ask yourself a few key questions like, “why am I on the payroll?” or, “why was I hired?” Understand completely what management expects from you. Create a personal evaluation list by writing down what is expected from you and comparing it to what you are actually contributing.  Write down what you are doing or contributing that exceeds management’s expectations.

Remember, you are rewarded for what you do after you have done what is expected. Where have you gone the extra mile and how did it help the company? Keep this exercise up to date and only go back to it in increments of six months to a year.

If you come up short, it’s time to create more value. Here are a few ways you can create additional value to propel yourself into a perfect position to ask for a raise. 

Creating Your Value

  1. Get additional training – management training, technology training, etc.
  1. Take on additional projects – Ask to take on some additional projects or do some side work that will help the company.
  1. Help others, be the go-to person – Make yourself accessible and welcoming for new employees to get help and guidance.
  1. Go the extra mile – Look for ways to enhance your work and put in a few extra hours at night to complete a project early, or at least on time.
  1. Present ideas to help reduce cost or increase revenue – Every CEO looks closely at the people who help the company before themselves.
  1. Think like an owner – What is the company’s big picture and how can you contribute to the company’s overall goals?
  1. Act and dress like you deserve more money or a promotion – Dress and behave up to the standards of the position you want, not the one you have.
  1. Share your accomplishments frequently –  Make sure your boss knows your successes. 



Do your research –Is what you’re asking for congruent and reasonable with what you’re doing, the marketplace, your coworkers, etc.? When did you get your last raise and how much was it? What value have you added to the company or your department since your last raise?

What impact do you make at the company overall? Are you making money for the company? If so, how much? Are saving the company money/time? If so, how much? Placing a value on your contribution will make your case for a raise seem more reasonable and also put your manager in a position to explain themselves if they don’t agree with your request. But, remember, this is not an ultimatum or a demand. It is a request to have your performance and compensation evaluated.

Know what you want – Know exactly how much you want. Avoid ranges such as $90,000 to $95,000. You are much better off having a specific number in mind such as $93,500. This shows your boss that you have put a lot of thought into this and you’re not just grasping at straws.

What’s in it for your boss? – Make the decision an easy one for your boss. They need to see how giving you a raise will benefit your boss and/or the organization.

Have a few options in mind – Look at other ways you can achieve your desired outcome. Don’t think in “all or nothing” terms. You may be able to raise your compensation in less conventional but equally rewarding ways such as:

  • Future Performance – “If I complete this project within 30 days we can do this…..” Set a goal to achieve. When you achieve the goal, you will be compensated. Work with your manager to lay out a plan for your career with the company, which includes your compensation.
  • Tuition Reimbursement – If you’re attending school, perhaps your company will pay for it. Sometimes it is easier to get your tuition paid for than it is to get a raise. In fact, tuition reimbursement is not taxable to you in many cases. It’s like getting tax free money. There are a few factors that determine whether your tuition reimbursement is taxable, see for details.
  • Remote Days – There is a value in not having to drive to work every day beyond the obvious avoidance of soaring gas prices wreaking havoc on your wallet, tolls, wear and tear on your car, and the time suck of sitting in rush hour traffic. Working from home also allows you to demonstrate your ability to work unsupervised. In fact, if you could demonstrate that you are more effective and able to complete more work on time while working from home, it is likely you will get more remote days in the future. For more information on asking for remote days click here http: for remote work days.
  • Ask For A Promotion – With promotions come an increase in salary. In fact, sometimes a promotion may mean less work with more money. Evaluate other positions within the company that pay more and that you would love to do to see if this is a more viable option.
  • Additional Time Off – While you won’t see more money on your paycheck each pay period, it sure is nice to take a long vacation or spend time with your family and friends and get paid the whole time. You could even do some freelance work with the additional time off to make some extra money! (Maybe add a freelance article link here).
  • Memberships – Health-club membership, Country Club dues, Association Fees, Certifications, and other memberships all cost money. It is often much easier for your manager to just pay for some of these items rather than getting Payroll and Human resources involved to approve a raise. Remember, these types of reimbursements are frequently not taxed. In other words, the value of these reimbursements is 20% to 30% higher than a traditional raise.
  • Car Allowance – Receiving a car allowance can be as good as a raise. You will always have to pay for your car but, if your employer does it for you, then you can use the money you’d otherwise spend on your car on so many other things!
  • Stock Options/Stock Appreciation Rights (SAR) – Many companies offer stock options or SARS plans to incentivize and retain their best employees. If you believe in the company you work for and are willing to play the long game, this avenue may be the most lucrative to pursue.

Be flexible. There are many combinations of perks, reimbursements, and money that make up your compensation package. Increasing your compensation package is a building process. Sometimes you may need to focus on a few smaller wins over time, or a combination of incentives and perks to achieve your goals instead of one big win.



Now you’re ready to approach your boss with your request for more money. Typically, the best times to ask for a raise are as follows:

Before Your Annual Review: The most traditional time to ask for a raise in a company that does annual reviews is during your annual review. Because some companies have this set up for the purpose of doling out raises, this is a great time to ask for one and prove why your worth has increased enough to deserve one. However, the downside of asking for an increase during the annual review is that the budget has already been set and approved. The best time is two or three months before the annual review. Essentially, you are alerting your boss that your expectations are higher and they will have to look closer at your value before approving the year’s compensation budget.

After Consistently Taking on More Responsibility: No, lending a hand to one coworker’s project that one time does not necessarily merit a raise. But, if you’re regularly taking on more responsibility than you ever have before you may consider asking for a raise. As your role within the company shifts and you become more valuable to that organization, it’s only natural to ask that your compensation match your ever-increasing value.

When You Hit Large Skill Benchmarks: If you’ve learned several new technologies and applied those in your job or if you’ve received relevant certification or degrees this may be a great time to ask for a raise! You’ve increased your skill value and, if those skills are going to help you contribute to the company in new ways, it’s reasonable to ask that your compensation reflect that increased value.

Cost of Living Increases: Some companies don’t have a system for regular raises and, if you’ve been with the company for several years in the same role without getting a raise, it may be a good time to ask for a cost of living raise. Factoring in inflation, rising apartment costs, rising gas prices, rising grocery bills and more, life simply gets more expensive to live every year regardless of whether or not you’re inflating your own lifestyle. Some companies offer these regular 3% raises as cost of living increases anyways but, if yours doesn’t, you can make a case for a raise using this method. However, it’s important to remember that getting a raise is more likely and asking is more effective when you’ve increased your value at the company.

Moving Up: As a company expands or as you grow into a new position you may want to consider asking for a raise. Whether you’re being promoted, the company is taking on exponentially more projects, or you’ve naturally transitioned into a leadership role you’ll find that moving up with or within an organization is a great time to ask for a raise.

Turnover: If your company is experiencing a lot of turnover, the fear of even more turnover persists. Asking for a raise at a time where the company is already in fear of losing more people can be beneficial timing for you. While you never want to extort or try to get one up on your employer, you can let them know that your workload has increased significantly, and the amount training of new people and mistakes of newer replacements is time-consuming. Your boss will not want to lose you, and also needs someone who is loyal to the company and will help get them through this period of unrest. You are that person.



One of the simplest and easiest ways to ask for a raise is to just ask your manager. Have an honest and open conversation with your manager. If they turn you down, ask for their recommendations on how you can improve in your current role and what you can do to position yourself well for the next role or more compensation.  Thank your manager for the feedback and let him/her know that you will be implementing their advice. After a couple of months of following your manager’s advice, re-approach your manager and ask him/her about your improved performance. Do they believe a raise would be appropriate now?

Practice and Anticipate –Role play with a family member or in the mirror before executing your request. By role-playing the scenario, you uncover any holes in your request and gain valuable insight. Play out all scenarios that can happen. Be prepared for these responses:

            “Why? Tell me why you deserve to be paid more?”

            “No. We don’t have the budget.”

            “I will think about it and get back to you.”

            “I would need approval from my boss. But, frankly, he will probably say no.”

            “Please put your request in writing and email it to me and I will review it.”

After reviewing all of the outcomes that can occur, work backward to build your raise request in such a way that these responses will be avoided, or at least will have a timeline or plan associated with it. Otherwise, you could end up with the open-ended “we’ll see” which is like the kiss of death for any raise request.

Remember, you may not get an immediate answer. More than likely, there are other people that will be involved in the decision.

Don’t feel bad if your request is denied. Most of the time it’s not you, it’s the budget or other forces prohibiting the increase.

Sample Scripts

Step 1 – Set up a Meeting

When asking for a raise, it is always a good idea to set aside some time to discuss your request. Avoid an impromptu meeting. It is important that your boss understands that this is important to you. Talking to your boss while walking down the hall or at the water cooler just says “it’s not that important, but it would be great if you gave me a raise”.


You:“Jim, do you have a minute?”

Jim:“Sure, what’s up?”

You:“I was hoping to sit down sometime soon and go through my plan for this year. I have a few ideas I would like to share with you and get your thoughts on.”

Jim:“That sounds good. Can we talk first thing in the morning?”

You:“Yes, great, see you then.”

Step 2 – In the Meeting – Lay The Foundation


You: “I really appreciate you taking time out of your schedule today to cover a few items I wanted to discuss for the coming year.”

Jim:“No problem, what’s on your mind?”

You: As you know, the new year is approaching quickly. So, I thought it would be a good time to cover some of the projects slated for completion this year along with my involvement in each of them. (Discuss upcoming projects/work and your goals and ideas).

As you know I am very committed to the company and completing my work in an excellent manner and this upcoming year is no exception, but I would like to tie these ambitious projects to some financial incentives for me. I have a few ideas that I think could make sense for the company and myself. I am currently at $_______ and based on (your successes and value provided), I see my value at $___________, with some sort of bonus tied to the on-time completion of the projects we discussed….”

Summary of Script

In this script, you have the opportunity to share your future-oriented thinking, your planning abilities, your commitment to the company,  your work, your value and accomplishments from the current year, and two ways to increase your income. You have accomplished asking for a raise; without an ultimatum, without comparing yourself to your colleagues, without including any personal issues, and you didn’t even ask for a raise. You just made a statement and left the ball of discussion in your manager’s court.

At this point you may get an “OK”, “let’s do it”, or “I will need to think about your request”, or “no”, for various reasons. If your answer is anything other than “no”, get a date or timeline on when your manager will have an answer or when the raise will go into effect.

“Will have to think about it”

 You:“Ok, great, I look forward to hearing back from you, when do you think that might be?”

Boss:“I can let you know on Monday”

You:“Perfect, I really appreciate you sitting down with me today.”



Stay future-oriented – Talk about your future with the company. This demonstrates that you’re a “company person” and you are a future-oriented thinker. Both of these qualities make you one of their best employees.

Focus on why you deserve a raise, not why you need a raise – Avoid personal reasons for why you need more money. The only way to sell a raise to your boss and his/her boss is to prove that you deserve it, not explain why you need it. Needing a raise for personal reasons just screams, “I can’t manage my money or I have some financial issues probably caused by bad decisions.”  You can actually put yourself in a worse position by approaching a raise with personal issues.

Be Confident – Be confident, or at least do your best to fake confidence. Make good eye contact and have your request well rehearsed. Sounding nervous or scared while asking for a raise will signal that you’re not ready and could result in an answer you don’t want to hear.

Avoid High-Stress Days – Don’t ask while your boss is experiencing high stress. Do your best to select a time where your boss is in a good mood.

Dress the Part – Dress in a manner that supports your request.

Don’t Ask Over Email – Never ask for a raise over email, text, social media, etc. Always, ask for a raise in person.

Don’t Make It An Ultimatum – No one likes to be cornered or held over a barrel. You may get the raise today but, just like accepting a counteroffer, your ultimatum will probably ignite a search for your replacement ASAP.

Don’t Use Compensation or Other information About Your Colleagues – Using this information can come across as if you’re trying to threaten or extort your boss for more money. This can also sound like you’ve been spending your time gossiping or distracting other employees by including them in your plan to ask for a raise. Lastly, you may get your colleagues in hot water by exposing that they have been talking about their compensation with others. There is no upside to this approach.

Don’t Supply Personal information – Asking for a raise is never about why you need it, it is always why you deserve it from your contributions and the value you bring. Bringing your personal life into this conversation makes your boss resent you for putting him/her into a position of saying yes or no for all the wrong reasons. Your relationship with your boss will be stressed by using personal issues to win at work.

While following through on all of the steps discussed in this article won’t guarantee you a raise, it will take away a lot of the anxiety of asking for a raise. Plus, this method will enhance your reputation as a professional with your boss. Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Go For IT!!