How to Ask for a Raise: The Ultimate Guide

October 7, 2022

I recently shared an article from Entrepreneur on social media where it is said that a worker’s best bet is to ask for a raise now, before companies finalize their budgets for next year.

A slew of comments followed: “But, Dana, how do I go about asking for this raise?”, “How do I feel confident when making my ask?”, “We’re entering a recession, is this the right time to ask for a raise?”

So you’ve been at your job for a while, and you actually enjoy what you do. You also know that you’re good at it, and the trust and responsibilities that come with the position show that your employer trusts you to get the job done well. You also know you could be making more at your company, or potentially elsewhere. With all of this in mind, how can you find the perfect time to ask for a raise, and how should you go about it?

Today’s article is going to dig into this touchy (even though it totally should NOT be) topic. Over the course of my 17-year career, I learnt the hard way what works best when asking for a raise. And yes, sometimes I got the raise, other times not.

So read on to see how you can go about making your ask.

Know your worth and build your case

The first step in successfully asking for a raise is knowing your worth. To do so, you begin by researching what similar positions make in your industry. It’s super easy to find this data online as many employers have begun posting salary ranges on job postings. Compare your level of experience and the work requirements with what your background and current job entails and you can get a pretty good idea of what your going rate in the market should be.

To further build your case, it’s not enough to simply have a market number in mind. You need to also highlight your contribution to the team and company. Review your past performance reviews, feedbacks received, and any awards. If you’ve gone above and beyond in certain projects, now is the time to make a note of these achievements. This way, you can back up your request for a raise with documented examples of your hard work.

Gather all of your notes on a handy piece of paper to glance at if you forget anything during your conversation with your boss.

When is the best time to ask for a raise?

There is never truly a perfect time to ask for a raise, but there are better times than others. First is when the company is reviewing budgets. However, you’ll want to start the discussion at least a few months early to be on top of your boss’s mind when the time for budget reviews gets closer. You’ll also want your employer to feel positive about your performance prior to your ask. Take on a couple of additional initiatives on projects or bring some creative solutions to problems. Contribute in a meaningful way to the team, THEN go ahead and make your ask.

A good strategy is to also check in with your employer before you ask for a raise. You may want to ask your boss if the company has plans to increase employee salaries in the near future. This way, you can ask for a raise if and when your employer decides to increase salaries and you’ll feel more confident approaching the situation. If your employer has no plans to increase salaries, you can still ask for a raise, and should, but your request may be met with a little more pushback.

A few last points

Don’t fall into the comparison trap: Interestingly, according to many studies, people who compare their income with those of family and friends are less happy than those who do not.

So my advice to you: don’t do it! There will always be someone you know making more, so why bother. Industries, professional and educational backgrounds, roles, all play a huge part in salary differences. I believe it’s best instead to set your own salary milestones and look at your personal progress within your industry over the years to gauge a proper comparison.

Be ready to leave: We all know negotiations are tricky. This is especially true if you’re asking for a raise and you’re currently employed. We all know that companies pay more to attract new talent than they do to retain their current staff. Sad, but unfortunately true. If you’re really in need of a significant increase in income, and not ready to wait until your employer can afford to pay you what you deserve, then you may have to be ready to walk away from your job.

Be prepared for pushback: Even if you’ve done everything right, you may still face some pushback from your boss. This is likely to happen if your company is facing financial difficulties. In that case, look at other ways you could find satisfaction with your overall compensation package. Maybe you could negotiate additional vacation days, more flexible hours etc.

A script to help you out

You: I’m so grateful that we have the opportunity to talk. I recognize that this is a difficult time for our industry, but it’s been a few years since we’ve had a conversation about my compensation, and I would like to take the time to discuss it with you today.

Boss: Sure, you’re an important part of the team, so I’m happy to talk with you to make sure you feel that way.

You: Well, I’m glad to hear that!I love my work and I enjoy being at our company. But quite frankly, remaining at my current salary is no longer satisfying to me. After doing some market research and looking at the salary trends for my position in adjacent industries, what I came up with was a 6% increase. I think that’d be fair in terms of what I’ve accomplished here.

Boss:  I’m not sure we have that kind of money in the budget right now.

You: Ok, I understand that. But honestly, after looking externally and researching what pay and benefits other companies are offering, I’m feeling a bit undervalued. If there really is no room in the budget at the moment, can we revisit this conversation in six months? And in the meantime, can we consider some other benefits, like additional time off and greater educational stipends?

For example, I’ve been thinking about going back to school a lot. I can share some specific numbers with you about what that would cost, depending on the type of program. And since the program I’m most interested in is statistical analysis, it would also help me level up my skills in this position. I can come back to you with more information. I’m hoping there’s a solution we can come to together.

Last but not least

Make sure you’re prepared with a confident and well-researched pitch, and you have a strategy for what happens next. Ask for the raise you deserve, and go for it!

Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get everything you ask for. This doesn’t mean you failed.  Your boss may simply not have the funds to give you an increase. If anything, you did something wonderful and finally mustered the courage to ask for what you deserve. Hats off to you!


Leave a Reply