Ask Away: How Do I Ask for a Raise?

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SalaryWelcome to Ask Away,’s new weekly column! Every Monday,we’ll pose an employment-related question to a group of experts and share their answers. Have a question on employment data you’d like to ask the expertsLeave it in the comments, and you might just see it in next week’s Ask Away!

This Week’s Question: While many people may feel like they deserve a raise, they often don’t broach the subject with their supervisors. It’s a nerve-wracking and tricky situation! So, this week, we ask: what’s the best way to ask for a raise? How can people confidently raise the issue with their supervisors — and get the reward they deserve?

“Asking for a raise can be like walking into a sea of the unknown, so being prepared will give you the confidence you need to go through the process, because if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

“Be prepared before making that step and know exactly what it is that you are asking for and why you are asking for it. Take documentation to substantiate what you are asking for and approach it as more of a conversation, rather than a ‘This is what I want’ type of situation. Have an open discussion with your supervisor about your performance, the duties in your role, and what you are prepared to additionally contribute based on the raise that you are asking for.

“Another option is to ask for a raise over time, rather than a lump sum up front. Propose a portion of the raise now and then negotiate the remainder after a review in 6 months, 12 months, etc.

“Keep anything personal out of it. It really isn’t [your supervisor’s] concern what your personal financial situation might be. Compensation structures are based on the position, duties, requirements, etc., not a person’s personal situation.”

-Deanna Arnold
Founder and Confidant
The People’s HR

“Consider the process of asking for a raise as a value proposition to the company. Gather your facts that demonstrate how much value you bring to the company based upon your track record of showing results that lead to increased revenue. Take a non-emotional stance [on] the situation and [stick] to the facts. It is not about what you need. It is about showing how valuable you are to the company and why you are underpaid, as compared to [the rest of] your industry.

“Don’t ramble on or go into a long speech. Prepare an opening statement that allows you to state some facts and then allow your supervisor to speak. Listen to what he/she has to say and respond accordingly. Before the meeting ends, try to gain as much clarity as possible. When will you receive official word as to his/her decision? What follow up steps can you take that would be helpful (such as emailing a summary of your discussion)? If it needs to be discussed further, what is a timeline for your next meeting? If the raise is not possible now, when can this next be considered?”

-Lavie Margolin
Author and Career Coach
Lion Cub Job Search

“​​If you’re due a raise, speak up. You don’t always have to wait until a performance evaluation comes along to ask for a raise. If you were promised one at a certain point and that time has long since passed, or you feel that you have earned one and see other people getting their salaries increased, confidently ask if you can discuss the possibility of you getting a raise. Don’t wait for your boss to remember you should be making more!”

-Chaz Pitts-Kyser
Speaker and Author

“Over the course of the year, send a short note to your boss at the end of each week, just keeping him or her apprised of everything you did during that week. Come evaluation time, the boss may well use those notes to help write the evaluation. And at the very least, you’ll have all that ammunition when it’s time to discuss raises.

“And remember, the first offer is just that: a first offer. Come back with a polite counteroffer: ‘I was really thinking in terms of X dollars, boss.’ Then you can settle on something between the two.”

-Barry Maher
Speaker, Author, and Consultant

“Start by first confirming the boss thinks you are doing a good job by asking for feedback on a recent assignment or your work in general. After hearing mostly good things, say, ‘I am glad you agree that I am doing a good job. That is why I was surprised to discover I am underpaid for the current market. What can we do to fix that?’

The key here is to focus on the market value of the job first by checking, PayScale, Glassdoor, or any salary calculator. You most likely are underpaid if you have been in the same job for a few years with raises of 1-3 percent. Other reasons you are underpaid include pay not keeping up with inflation, job creep, and promotion without a pay increase. Have two or three things that you have done and their financial impact to show why you deserve the high end of the market rate.”

-Katie Donovan
Salary and Career Negotiation Consultant
Equal Pay Negotiations, LLC

“Schedule a meeting with your manager and go in knowing what you want. If a raise is out of the question, be prepared to answer the question ‘Why do you deserve additional compensation?’ Set seniority aside and really showcase your value to the company and why you are deserving of more. Come in with numbers and figures to prove to management that you are a stellar employee and how you’re going to continue to benefit the company. Know what you want, go in with confidence, and prove that you deserve this.

“If management is set on not giving you a raise, have alternative compensation options in mind and be prepared to compromise. Ask if your company can offer you additional paid time off, a bigger end of the year bonus, additional quarterly bonuses, stock options, flexible work hours/remote work options, or profit sharing. All of these options are ways your company can recognize your value without a salary increase. Additional paid time off is popular and a win-win because there is no monetary expense to the company and the employee feels valued and rewarded. Try to figure out what you want and see how management can work with you. Remember that the best compromise is a solution to the problem at hand.”

-Noelle Cipollini
Lead Resource Manager

“One of the biggest takeaways about asking for a raise is to get the timing right and ask appropriately. Leaders don’t like to feel cornered, so don’t bring up a raise out of the blue. Also, demanding … a raise will come across hostile. Instead, bring up a raise in a suggestive tone, and ask questions about how you need to get there and what you need to do to make that possible.”

-Stacy Madden
Senior Recruiter
Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search

“[It’s] always tricky [to ask for a raise], but necessary, because in many companies, raises are not given unless you ask for one. It all comes down to showing your value through concrete results.

“First, prepare a list of what you have done to contribute to the company recently that has resulted in a positive outcome — increasing revenue is always best.

“Second, put your case together in a format that show the results, [like] a chart or a report, so that [your achievements] cannot be debated.

“Third, make an appointment with your boss to meet and let him/her know it’s about compensation so that he/she does not feel blindsided.

“Fourth, rehearse your presentation with a person outside of your company — a mentor, family [member], or friend — to be confident and comfortable.

“Do not say ‘I need the money,’ or threaten to leave.”

-Kathi Elster
Executive Coach and Business Strategist
K Squared Enterprises

By Matthew Kosinski