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How to Ask For a Raise at Work

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Asking for a raise can be nerve-racking, but it’s necessary that you get recognized for all the hard work you’ve done and paid what you deserve. If you’ve taken on more responsibility, changed your role significantly, or are up for a promotion, it’s the right time for you to ask. 

But how do you know how to ask for a raise at work? When do you ask, how much do you ask for, and what do you say? This guide will break down everything you need to know about how to ask your boss for a raise, from timing, to how much to ask for, to how to counter if they say no. We’ll cover:

Why You Should Ask for a Raise

While your boss may be eyeing you for promotion opportunities, it’s unlikely they will proactively advocate for your raise. You are your biggest advocate, which means when you’ve gone above and beyond, taken on extra responsibilities, completed a large and challenging project, or haven’t gotten a raise in a while (at least a year), it’s time to ask for a raise.

It’s not time to ask for a raise when your cost of living increases or there’s inflation or a recession. Typically, there are better ways to ask for a raise than referring to external economic factors. However, there is one exception: if you notice the market rate for your role varies significantly from your current salary. If this is true, you’ll want to research your position’s average salaries based on experience level, location, industry, and company size.

>>MORE: 10 Ways New Grads Can Get Hired in a Recession

When to Ask for a Raise

Now that you’re looking for a raise, you need to find the right time to ask. For example, there are better times to ask than a month after performance reviews when the company is keeping a tight budget. Yet when your manager is working on strategy and talking about growth and development, you might have an opportunity. There are three general times you should ask for a raise:

  • Performance reviews: If your company does annual reviews, this is a great time to have a conversation. However, preparing your manager for the discussion can be beneficial before you sit down for the review. You can ask them in an earlier meeting or interview: “I’d like to discuss my compensation during my performance review. Is that a good time for the discussion, or should we schedule a separate meeting?”
  • After you’ve completed a large project: “If you’ve recently contributed to a major win, achieved success with a high profile project or agreed to take on additional responsibilities, that is a great time to initiate a conversation about compensation,” Sally Anne Carroll, internationally accredited life coach and career coach, says. This is a great time to ask for feedback on your performance, too.
  • It’s been a while: If it’s been more than a year since your salary was reviewed, you can ask your manager to have a conversation about your compensation. However, this should be focused on the contributions you’ve made in the past year, not about asking for a salary discussion simply because you’ve worked there for a certain amount of time.

“If your company doesn’t have an annual review process, don’t leave it to chance,” Carroll says. “You want to be proactive in bringing up this conversation at least around your anniversary. You might also take advantage of specific opportunities and timings within your company’s fiscal or workflow calendars (when budget is set, what salary policies are in place, major company events).”

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When you’ve decided when you should ask for a raise, schedule a meeting for the discussion — virtual or in person.

“Never make the [official] request via email, Slack or any other electronic channel,” Carroll says. “Schedule a 1:1 conversation, and don’t expect that you’ll get a yes or no at the meeting. Your request may need to go through approval channels or be budgeted before you have a solid answer.”

How Much of a Raise to Ask For

Like you would research salaries to prepare for the interview question, “What are your salary expectations?” you need to research your market value when asking for a raise. 

“You can research similar roles, have discreet conversations with others in similar roles (professional associations can be a good place to build those relationships), or with mentors — and present a well-thought out request,” Carroll says. 

Doing this research can arm you with data you need to know how much of a percentage increase to ask for. You should either look to increase your salary to the higher range of your current position or the salary of the level above (if you’ve taken on significant extra responsibility).

But how much is a standard percentage increase? According to Yuletta Pringle, SHRM-CP, SHRM HR knowledge advisor, an “entry-level/career raise request may fall in the range of 10-20%.” (The average yearly raise in 2022 was 5.2%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

How to Ask for a Raise at Work: Tips and Examples

Tips

Collect Positive Feedback

You’ll want to collect positive feedback from your teammates when asking for a raise.

“Start a success document to begin tracking your wins, growth and accomplishments,” Carroll says. “Make it part of your routine to capture these things as they happen, so that you can call on them when you need to document your progress.”

If you have yet to track your wins, return to past emails and shout-outs on messaging platforms to grab quotes from your coworkers. 

Bring the Data

You might think if you’re not in a field like sales, where you have quotas you can easily hit (and miss), you can’t bring data into your salary discussion.

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“You should track your accomplishments including extra projects outside of the scope of your role,” Pringle says. “Include the impact of their role in quantifiable measurements, i.e. lowered the company’s benefit cost 10% by changing to a new health provider resulting in $50k of savings.”

Don’t be afraid to get creative with what you focus on. Did you speed up a process, so it now takes ten minutes to complete a task vs. 30? That’s a 66% increase in efficiency! Did you set up 18 meetings in a month when your team is expected to average three a week? You exceeded expectations by 50%. 

Focus on the numbers your team is tracking, whether that’s meetings scheduled, articles written, or requests answered. If you aren’t goaled against specific numbers, look for ways you’ve created efficiencies and extract data from those process improvements.

Practice

You know when and what you’ll ask for, and you have the positive feedback and data to back you up. Now, it’s time to figure out what you’re going to say and rehearse it.

“If you’re anxious about the conversation, practice with a coach or a friend so that you feel confident in communicating the value you’ve brought and the request that you’re making,” Carroll says.

When the time for the actual discussion comes, you want to feel prepared and assertive in the conversation.

Examples

Example 1

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. I’m looking forward to reviewing some of my accomplishments and key results from the last few quarters and discussing my compensation. 

Last quarter, I spearheaded multiple tests that helped us hit our goals of increased user time on-site and a 5% conversion rate. I worked closely with our product designers to test newly designed CTA boxes with refined copy. Not only did these CTA boxes drive 70% more conversions than the old boxes, but I also received positive feedback from Jenna and Mario on how simple and effective our working relationship was. Further, I increased our team efficiency by 30% by reorganizing our workflow into Notion. This has also supported cross-functional collaboration by making our team’s work more visible to external stakeholders.

I believe these additional initiatives — which have had a tangible positive impact on the company — make a case for increasing my compensation. Based on my research on salary averages for this level of role, I think an 11% increase to $55,000 is appropriate. I’d like to discuss whether this amount of raise is possible.

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Example 2

Thank you for making the time to meet with me today. I’ve really enjoyed this role and working with the team, and I’ve been thinking more about my growth and development at this company. 

This year, I drove a 100% client satisfaction rate by developing my front-end engineering skills and collaborating with clients to ensure our site production fit their ideals and needs. One client, Company Y, specifically asked me to be on all communications because my work had “exceeded all their expectations.” 

Within our team, I also collaborated with Jason to implement better automated testing, which has led to better bug detection and 25% fewer errors before production. This work has made for a cleaner final software and a more efficient team process — our time to deployment has decreased by 10% because of this implementation.

Considering my work’s effects on the organization, I’d like to revisit my compensation. Based on market research for roles with this skill set, I think a 15% raise is fair. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

>>MORE: Explore Forage’s engineering virtual experience programs.

What to Do When You Don’t Get the Raise You Asked For

Unfortunately, your manager isn’t going to say yes to every raise you ask for. However, an initial “no” doesn’t mean your ask was all for naught. This might be a starting point to continue the conversation in the future, get valuable feedback on your performance, or even negotiate for things outside of your compensation, like your fringe benefits.

What Your Manager SaysYour Response
I can’t give you a raise of that percentage.From my research, that % is in line with my market value. Can you let me know why this raise isn’t possible?
I can’t give you a raise at this time.When can we revisit this conversation?
I can’t give you a raise right now, but it may be possible in the future.Let’s discuss ways I can help you make a case for my raise in the future.
I don’t think you’re eligible for a raise right now. I’d love to get your feedback on my performance. Can we discuss skills, initiatives, or additional responsibilities you’d like me to take on to qualify for increased compensation?
I don’t have room in the budget for a raise right now.Instead of compensation, would you be open to discussing the adjustment of my benefits instead, such as additional vacation days or a 4.5-day workweek?

How to Ask for a Raise at Work: The Bottom Line

Asking for a raise at work can be scary, especially if you haven’t been in the workforce for long and it’s one of the first performance-related conversations with your manager. However, if you come prepared with research, positive feedback, and data at the right time, you can make a confident case that you deserve one.

Looking for more ways to boost your professional workplace skills? Explore Forage’s personal development virtual experience programs.

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