How to Ask for a Raise and Actually Get It

People are willing to do some pretty extreme things to make more money, but sometimes all it takes is asking for it. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as folding a paper airplane that has “can I have a raise?” written on it and launching it at your boss. Feel free to try it out and report your results back here though.

Asking for a raise is a tricky process. It’s like navigating a mine field of rejection; one wrong step and you can find yourself at a “no” so fast that it will blindside you. That’s why preparing and having a game plan are so important.

Step 1: Decide If Now is the Best Time to Ask

Before you Spartan kick your boss’ door open and demand to be paid more you’re going to need to decide if the time is right.

Your performance is going to be the first factor the company is going to look at when determining if you deserve a raise. If you’re just going through the motions to collect a paycheck or hide in the broom closet when some additional work comes up it might not be the best time to ask.

If you’re not on your “A” game then it’s not a good idea to put a spotlight on that. Just spend a few months giving it your all and your boss is sure to take notice.

Spongebob employee of the month wall
Spongebob is ready

The second deciding factor is the company climate. If there’s just been a big round of layoffs then it’s likely not the most opportune time. Your boss would probably just ask what’s wrong with you and say you’re lucky to still have a job. Inversely, if the company is having a record year and you helped contribute to that your chances are much better.

Step 2: Preparation

Prove your Worth

If you’re going to ask for a raise then you to need to be able to prove how valuable you are to the company. Start thinking of things like times where you went above and beyond, extra responsibilities you’ve taken on, or meaningful projects you were a part of.

You want them to see that you’re an asset they can’t afford to lose, so a good history of being a model employee is going to go far in the decision.


I’m more of a proponent of giving out raises/promotions based on performance rather than seniority, but being at a company for awhile does come with valuable knowledge. If it’s been awhile since you’ve been rewarded for your loyalty and experience then that’s worth bringing up. That’s especially true if you aren’t at least receiving cost of living raises each year to keep up with inflation. You’re essentially being rewarded less and less each year even though you are more experienced.

Know Your Market Value

If you want a good gauge of how much you should be paid then look into how much other companies are paying their employees with the same job and similar background. Checking out sites like Glassdoor aren’t always 100% accurate, but they can give you a general range that will give you an idea of your market value.

Compare Against other Employees

There aren’t many things that companies absolutely HATE more than when employees find out how much each other are making. I’m pretty sure HR people have nightmares about this scenario. I recommend you NOT use this as a metric to justify your raise. I know it might seem unfair if a coworker is making more but there are usually other factors, and may put your boss on the defensive to justify the disparity.

With that being said, there are a few occasions it’s worth bringing this up, but make sure it’s done in a tactful way. They’re not going to be very responsive if you just say it’s unfair; you’re going to need to explain why. For example if a clueless new grad starts out making more than you and you’ve been with the company for years it may be worth looking into why that’s the case. Again, make sure to account for factors such as degrees and prior experience before you shove it in your boss’ face.

Interview Elsewhere

If you really want to put pressure on them you can start interviewing with other companies and use a new job offer as leverage. An offer really puts them in a tough spot where they need to start paying more or risk losing you. If you need to brush up on your interview skills check out this article.

This tactic has its upsides and downsides. The main detractor from doing this is the fact that it can be off-putting and potentially put a target on your back. You don’t want to shove the offer in their face because it will likely rub them the wrong way and the next time budget cuts have to be made your name may come up.

On the positive side though you may find a job you’ll enjoy more and pays better. It’s always more financially responsible to look for new jobs while you’re still employed so there’s no lapse in paychecks coming in. This could be the opportunity to do that if you have doubts about your current job. As an added bonus people that switch companies every few years end up making substantially more in the long run.

Step 3: Put it All Together and Ask

All right, now that you did all the preparation it’s go time. Everyone likes talking about how great they are and now you have an opportunity to do that without people rolling their eyes at you!

Ask your boss if he/she can set some time aside to speak with you. This will give you an opportunity to lay out your case in a structured way, and force them to listen to what you have to say. The time is already set aside so they can’t use the scapegoat “I don’t have time to talk about this right now” excuse. They’re stuck there. You’ve got ’em right where you want them.

Be confident and even-toned throughout the meeting. Things can take a turn for the worse if emotions get involved so keep it as professional as possible. Don’t be pushy about it. State all the points you came up with during the preparation phase and try to be as persuasive as possible. You know you deserve that raise now you just have to convince them.

Sometimes people forget that bosses are just people too. Sure, occasionally they may be deserving of a “world’s worst boss” mug, but at the end of the day they understand the desire for a higher salary. I’m sure they want the same for themselves.

Even if they can’t offer the full amount you want then you may be able to negotiate a lesser amount. A smaller raise is better than no raise. I know it’s not as satisfying, but sometimes you just have to take the small victories.

Step 4: Reflect on the Outcome

They Said Yes

Congratulations! You deserve every extra penny that you got!

They Said No

Don’t be discouraged. There are countless reasons why they could’ve said no. Just take whatever reasons they gave you and try to have counterpoints for the ones in your control for the following time. Keep your chin up. You’ll get ’em next time, Champ.

I personally think my readers deserve to make at least a million dollars per year because you obviously have impeccable taste in websites, and I’m sure that greatness extends to other aspects of your life. Unfortunately companies don’t share my viewpoint, but hopefully by following these steps you’ll be just a tiny bit closer to that seven digit number.

Author: Finance Brofessor

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