March 29, 2023

Are you thinking of asking for a raise? This topic can be the scariest of all discussions, even if you have a great relationship with your boss.

After all, talking about money is always taboo in our culture. As a result, most of us feel uneasy when it is about negotiating our salary, even though this impacts us the most.


Most don’t have a problem standing their ground when it comes to opinions about how should we complete a project. Some of us don’t even have a problem setting boundaries.

But, when it comes to asking for a raise, why is it so difficult?

The reason is simple, research shows that it is because of the uncomfortable feeling of asking for more money from another person.

Often readers ask our experts for advice on improving efficiency in work, better leadership skills, how to show appreciation, and overall achieving success.

But even more, readers, who are leaders themselves have asked this simple question:

“Do you have any advice on how should I ask for a pay raise?”

It is obvious that we want to feel that we are being paid fairly for the work we perform for the company. Our salary can sometimes also serve as an indicator of our success in our careers. And our success in our career may feel meaningless if we are underpaid and our salary isn’t aligned with our success.

Here are some dos and don’ts when asking for a pay raise that will probably increase your success to get the salary you deserve.


Let’s Dive In!

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Tips When Asking For A Pay Raise

1. Do Gather Information

Get all the positive praise you have received since your last review. Put all of this information in order and identify those which have the most positive impact on the company.

What to do?

  1. Set up a folder or write it down in a notebook about all your achievements. Store all the information that had commended you for doing a great job. People who have commended you such as:
    1. ClientAdvertisements
    2. Boss
    3. Colleagues
  2. Find a few accomplishments in which you play a major role in the success of the project, or landing that big client who contributes a large chunk of the company’s revenue.
  3. Identify the one which you want to use to present the case to your manager in detail. Preferably it will be one in which you are the lead in the project or the main person who help land the big client.

2. Do Know How You Will Contribute to Better

Consider a list of items that you will bring to the team in the coming years to come. People don’t usually get a raise if they are just doing their job, people get a raise by going above and beyond the expectation of their job.

The keywords are:

“Exceed Expectation”

You are asking for raise because you know you have demonstrated to have gone above and beyond. You know you deserve a raise because you have contributed much more than what this position requires of you, willingly and voluntarily.

Your boss has observed your achievements from the sidelines. But, they also want to hear from you, “how will you continue to exceed expectations for the long haul.”

Tell them how you plan to continue growing and contributing to the company. This will help them to make their decision to give you the raise you deserve much easier.

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3. Do Be Specific On Achievements

Think of hard numbers. Numbers that is created from your effort and achievements. Think of how has your company or department directly benefited from your work.

Ask yourself these few questions:

  • How have you helped your team in increasing sales by [How Many]% last year?Advertisements
  • How have you helped in bringing in [How Many] new clients?
  • How have the project that you lead contributed to the company’s operation or bottom line?
  • Are you managing more people [How Many] now in comparison to last year?
  • Have your roles and responsibility [What Roles] increased now compared to last year?

Be as specific as possible when you are talking about achievements. Only talk about things that can be backed up by hard numbers.

Research has found that numbers can help you to increase your success during negotiation, and numbers make the case much more convincing.

Compare the following statements:

“Bad Example” with no specific backing with numbers:

I have help the team to increase lots of sales last year and have taken up the responsibility to lead a team of employees.

As you can see the “Bad Example” doesn’t tell much and it feels very vague about your achievements. “Lots of sales” can be 1% or even 50%. And leading a team of employees doesn’t tell how good a leader you are at all. Because the information is too vague.

Now let’s see what a good example looks like.


“Good Example” with specific backing with numbers:

I have help the team to increase sales revenue by 35.2% last year and have taken up the responsibility to lead a team of 15 employees.

As you can see the “Good Example” tells you exactly how much have you contributed to the company’s sales revenue. Furthermore, it shows how many employees are you leading which shows your leadership skills. Leading a team of 2 and leading a team of 15 are very much different in terms of the leadership skills required.

Be as clear as possible when negotiating.

4. Do Time Your Raise

Timing, timing, timing! The most important aspect of any negotiation! If you time your request right, you have basically won 50% of the negotiation, the rest will be up to your performance during the negotiation.

Get yourself familiarized with the company’s review policy. Some company does a performance review every year, while others may do it every 6-months, or even 3-months. Consult with your human resource department to understand the timeline.

Ask them or find out yourself these 2 important questions:

  1. When is the performance review?
  2. When is the financial budget trajectory for next year going to be due?Advertisements

Why ask the first question?

You want to know when is the performance review, so that you may know by when you have to prepare your case to be presented to your manager.

Why ask the second question?

It is important for you to ask, as all money used by the company is usually budgeted. If you are granted an increase in pay, your manager has to factor this extra cash into their budgeting.

Quick Tip

Just an accomplishment of a big project? Or landed a big sale which will? Ride on the momentum of your success. When you are already in a positive light, you may find this to be the best time to ask the one important question,

“Can I get a pay raise”.

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5. Do Dress The Part

The first impression counts. Although your manager may see you every day, it does make a difference if you dress the part. Wrinkled cloths, unsuited jeans, or dirty shoes, all play a part in your overall presentation and impression.

Ever wonder why sale personnel required to wear formal wear when meeting their clients?

This is because most clients don’t like to talk to someone who comes to talk business wearing like they are going to a party, this is just inappropriate and unprofessional.

Note: Unless the clients request you to wear otherwise, best if you wear formal

This same concept goes with negotiating with your manager.


You want to look good and professional.

Even if you are lucky enough to be in a company where your office dress code tends to be relaxed. When it comes time for your meeting, it is good advice that you should look at the part.

Looking polished and being professional will only help you feel more confident as you make your case.

Spending a few extra minutes putting on a tie, ironing your blouse, or polishing your shoe will usually do the trick.

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6. Don’t Ask By Email

No, no, no! Don’t ever think of asking for a pay raise using an email. It is one of the worst ways to ask for a pay raise. Unless you don’t see your manager for the next year or so, you may consider using video calls. Email is a no-no.

Negotiation is best-done face to face. Face-to-face negotiation allows you to get much more information on how the negotiation goes. By negotiating face-to-face, you get to know how your manager feels when you pop the question.

  • Does your boss feel positive about your request or indifferent?
  • Are you presenting your case in the most suitable manner?
  • Should you accept the answer “no” or are there any concerns that you can help to clarify at the moment?

Although it is acceptable to schedule a meeting through email. When it is about the conversation about getting the raise. Discussing the request face to face is always the best way. It shows that you are serious about the request and it allows you to gauge your manager’s reaction to your request.

Ask your manager politely that you have something important in regards to your career progression to discuss and that you will like to book a time with them for the discussion.

You may even check if they are available for a lunch meeting, which can be a more relaxed setting for the conversation to happen.


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7. Don’t Ask During High-Stress Time

Stress is really bad for health. The same goes for negotiating a pay raise. The topic of negotiating for a pay raise itself is an awkward and stressful topic. And if you pop this question during high-stress times, it just makes matters worst.

Remember when you are a kid? The time when your mom is busy preparing your family dinner and you keep asking if she can play with you?

The answer is usually a “no”.

This same concept goes for the request for a pay raise during a high-stress time. 

If your boss is stressed and overworked, it is probably not the best time to bring up the topic.

Because the answer is probably a “no”.

To get the timing right, usually common sense is in play. You will know it is the right time when the opportunity comes.

Examples of High-Stress Periods:

  • Just recently lost a big client
  • Rushing for a project to complete
  • Recession period
  • The company is undergoing a budget-cutting exercise
  • People are being laid off from the company

Examples of opportunity:

  • A big bonus is given to employeesAdvertisements
  • Just landed a big clients
  • The company is in the midst of expanding

Try waiting for an opportunity, or after some form of celebration. A period when your manager is in a good mood. Your chances of succeeding will be much higher.

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8. Don’t Threaten

Don’t ever use threats such as, “I will leave the job if the demand is not given.” We are all civilized professionals in our job. Unless you are willing to lose your job, don’t ever use threats in the negotiation. You don’t want to be seen as over-demanding. Use caution when framing your request.

You don’t want your request to sound like,

“You need to give me this, or else!”

If you frame your request like a threat, you will most probably not get the reply you want in addition to losing your job.

You can avoid making the request sound like a threat by:

  • Start on a positive tone
  • Be confident
  • Be patient
  • Be professional
  • Be understanding.

Know that it is alright if your manager does not agree to your request and it is more important to stay on good terms with your manager.

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9. Don’t Use Your Colleague’s Salary As a Reason

The salary of each employee by default is confidential information. Even if your colleague trusts you and tells you how much they are paid. You should not use this information as one of the reasons why should you get a pay increment.


Avoid bringing office gossip into your discussion.

Be professional and do not use your colleague’s salary as leverage in your discussion. Using the information about your colleague’s salary will only bring more harm than good, as it will cause discord between colleagues and put you in a bad light.

Everyone brings a different experience and different amount of value to the company, thus each is paid differently. 

  • Focus on your own accomplishments and why you deserve to get a raise.
  • Focus on your own merits and not on others.
  • Focus on how can you provide even more value to the company in the future.

Most importantly, the pay raise is about you, not others.

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10. Don’t Use Personal Reasons

Don’t use personal reasons for why you need a raise. You may have 101 reasons that you need a raise now. It can be you just got married, or your wife just gave birth to a twin and need more money for the milk powder. Or maybe you just want that extra cash for the trip you want to go next year.

All these reasons are personal and are basically asking the wrong question.

What you should not be saying:

“I will like to negotiate a pay raise because I need it”

The reason for a pay raise should be professional and beneficial to the company.


What you should be saying:

“I will like to negotiate a pay raise because I have achieved… and accomplished…”

No one needs to know what you need. In a company, they want to know if you deserve a pay raise not if you need a pay raise. You should ask yourself this question:

“What value have you given to the company to let you deserved the pay raise?”

When asking for a pay raise, there are some things that are better left unsaid and kept to yourself. It is usually a good idea to avoid using personal reasons and instead emphasize what you have done to merit a raise.

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What To Expect After You Have Asked for a Raise

Even though you may want the answer right now. Often, don’t expect an immediate response. In most medium to big companies, your manager may not have the authority to give you a pay raise right away. Discussions have to be made with human resources and the management team. For smaller companies, the process may be easier.

But remember the following:

Unless you have performed exceptionally well, your request will most likely be rejected.

Don’t get depressed about the result. Instead, work harder and prove to your manager that you deserve the pay raise. Most likely, after your initial discussion, your manager will take more notice of you.

Some will even find opportunities for you to perform and justify the pay raise.

When the time comes, make the request again. But this time, your chances of getting a pay raise will be much higher and easier to justify.

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