How to Ask for a Raise: Getting What You Deserve at Work

Shot of two young women shaking hands at the office

At the time of reading this, you’ve likely heard the word “inflation” thrown around a great deal the past few years. Normally, this article and subject matter would stand on its own as valuable advice and information for job seekers, employed, and career-oriented individuals, but because of inflation, it’s even more relevant than ever.

Inflation is not the main focus, it’s how to get a raise, but it helps put into context why it’s necessary for you to earn a livable wage and earn what you are worth. We’ll touch on the inflation aspect a little more in detail later on, but for now, you want to know how to approach asking for a raise.

How to ask for a raise is a common question that people need to know. It’s negotiating your value and we’re here to help walk you through the process.

Why Asking for a Raise is Necessary

Shot of a man asking for a salary raise

First and foremost, we have to talk about why asking for a raise is necessary, especially for people asking for their first raise at work.

Although it seems like a very clear-cut reason why, wanting more money, it has more nuanced than you think. 

Asking for a raise is, for its most obvious reason, important because you want to earn the equivalent of what you feel your value to the company is worth - in short, more money.

Next, and one of the topics I touched on in the introduction is that inflation is robbing you of that value. The inflation rate was reported as 7.5% through February 2022 so far, which means if you get a 5% raise, you’ve actually lost 2.5% of your wage because of the increase in goods and prices compared to your earnings.

Asking for a raise is also important for plenty of life skills needed in the work world. Negotiation, rejection, and even acceptance are social-business skills that will come in handy when it comes to projects, dealing with customers, clients, and coworkers, and helping you mature in your evaluation of yourself.

Similarly, an increase in salary or pay may lead to an increase in work responsibilities which can further your career with your current employer or help you build experience to find better positions elsewhere down the line.

Tips for Asking for a Raise

When it comes to asking for a raise, you can’t just stroll into your boss's office and demand you make more, there are a lot of those nuances I talked about that come with the actual process of requesting an increase in wages or salary, or even benefits.

Find the Right Time

One of the crucial elements that go into asking for a raise is timing. Asking a sensitive question requires finding the right time, and asking for a raise is no different. 

Consider the following about when to ask for a raise:

  • Manager’s workload and stress levels - Your manager or boss is the 1st of two people in control of your raise (the second being you), so consider if they are currently juggling a lot of new hires, firing employees, dealing with stress and their general workload before requesting a raise.
  • Financial health of the company - How the company is doing financially, and in a general sense, is a good indicator of when it is or isn’t a good idea to ask for a raise. If the company is doing well, it’s a much better time to seek a salary or pay increase.
  • Time of the year - In tandem with the financial and overall health of the company, the right time of year makes a big difference in your success when seeking more compensation. Holiday’s are typically a bad time as many people are dealing with high workloads or are “checked out” and thinking about their time off.
  • Recent or outstanding achievements - Finally, if you have any recent milestones or achievements of note with the company, like performing well on a project or completing a difficult task for the company, you can use this as leverage in your argument for a raise.

Research Salary Trends

Looking for an increase in your pay is not just about finding the right time or how your boss is feeling when you ask, it also involves researching what someone in your position should be making, or could be depending on multiple factors.

Those factors are called salary trends, and they include:

Graphic of salary trends
  • Years of experience
  • Skill level and specialized skills
  • Time spent with the company
  • Accomplishments and achievements
  • Level of education
  • Geographical location
  • Certifications and qualifications

Compiling the data on how much salary someone in a similar position to you makes helps in directing you towards a reasonable number or value to ask for when seeking a raise.

Set Up a Meeting

Graphic of a woman having a video meeting with other employees

You need to sit down and discuss this with your boss or manager.

They can’t read your mind so all of the hard work you put into determining your value to the company has to be expressed in a formal sit-down meeting.

Setting up a meeting is easy, and if you consider the factors in finding the right time, you can use this to your advantage in picking a good time for a meeting where you and your boss will be ready to discuss your pay.

Prepare for Your Meeting 

Now that you have the research done for your potential raise and you’ve set a date and time for your meeting, it’s time to prepare.

As you would for a job interview, you want to practice asking questions. Doing this with a friend or family member in a simulated interview setting will help you feel more comfortable for the real thing.

It’s also useful for seeking feedback from your interviewer on where you can improve your questions, body language, and general interview skills.

It is useful to begin the conversation with your desire for a raise to prevent the purpose of the meeting from getting lost on your boss.

Cite your research, discuss your value to the company and what you feel you are worth in salary terms and use confidence to express your strong desire for this opportunity.

Complete a Follow-Up

Regardless of whether you get a raise or not, completing a follow-up with your boss through an email, phone call, or even an interview can help you learn what you did right or wrong in the process.

This mostly applies to rejection when asking for a raise, but even though you didn’t get your raise, it helps show maturity and aptitude to learn which can help for the next time when you ask for a raise. 

Treat the Process Seriously

If asking for a raise is similar to an interview, then you know that you should take it seriously. It’s not a casual conversation with your boss, remember that you are seeking compensation for what you believe is a fair evaluation of your worth to the company.

Coupled with all of the advice on what to bring to the interview when asking for a raise, you will know that treating the process seriously and with dedication often results in a better outcome and desired effect in requesting a raise.

How to Handle Rejection

Rejection is unfortunately a part of the process.

In a lot of cases, employers will either decline a raise given some variables about the company or performance.

With regards to the company, you should always follow up with questions on why they have declined a raise, what you can do next time, and request numbers to help support their stance, just like how you came prepared with material to support asking for better compensation.

Dealing with rejection

Being turned down for a raise is certainly a deflating experience, one that I’ve had to go through as well, but the best piece of advice for handling rejection is to step away from the situation afterward to assess and collect your thoughts.

You don’t need to ask them why you have declined right away if you are feeling emotional about the process.

It’s good to calm down and consider your alternatives, which brings me to this point, that you may not be as valued as you thought and it could be a sign that you should look for a new job elsewhere.

Common Questions About Raises

We’ve talked about quite a lot so far so it’s good to answer some of the common questions that we have missed and

When Should You Ask Again for a Raise?

Graphic of three women talking

After you’ve received the news from your boss that you will not get a raise, and you go through the reasons, and you do a follow-up for feedback, and you’ve considered all of your options, you might be finding yourself asking, “when should I ask for a raise again?”

Finding the right time to ask isn’t always easy, but know you should wait at least 6 months at a minimum.

There is no game plan to this, only that you shouldn’t ask right away, and 6 months' time may mean that the company is in better health, or you’ve improved your performance or a whole manner of reasons.

Many people wait up to a year to ask again so that they have a full calendar year to improve their chances, but it’s entirely up to you, only that 6 to 12 months is generally a good range to keep in mind.

Should I Find a New Job?

Following the rejection of a raise, you could find yourself in the very common situation of evaluating your worth to a company. Your difference of opinion might mean sticking with them in hopes of asking again and receiving better results or parting ways.

Choosing to find a new job should not be as scary as you think it is. More people are leaving jobs because of this reason and you should do your due diligence in researching other positions out there that will pay you what you feel you’re worth.

Even if you receive a raise, if it’s still what you’d consider too small to keep up with rising costs, you might considering finding a new job where you’ll be paid what you feel you’re worth and could be a healthier move.

Should You Ask About Variable Pay?

In the event that you get turned down, you should ask your employer about variable pay. Variable pay is just another term for incentivized pay, which can come in the form of a bonus for hitting certain goals or metrics on a project.

Employers may feel inclined to accept this because it’s a bonus that is only tied to your performance, so if you don’t hit those goals, they don’t need to worry about paying.

Should You Ask About Benefits?

Sometimes it may not be about your performance and it could entirely be that the company is not able to compensate you because of finances that are out of your control.

In this instance, asking about non-monetary benefits can be an option to help compensate your value.

What benefits does the company offer its employees

Some of the benefits you can seek are more flexible hours or the option to work from home full-time or on a flex schedule, which is becoming an increasingly popular option. Similarly, you may seek more personal time off which can potentially be accommodated in lieu of a pay increase.

Bottom Line

Talk about pay in and about the workplace is a really sensitive subject. We don’t like to discuss how much we make, how much our coworkers make, or how much we’d like to be making.

That problem leads people to be uncomfortable or feel unconfident when seeking compensation for their value to a company in the form of a raise to their pay/salary.

When you couple that with inflation and rising prices, along with the desire to be treated according to your worth to a company, it’s necessary to know how to ask for a raise.

You’ve seen some of the advice on when and how to ask for a raise, along with how to handle rejection, what comes next, and the important questions to ask your employer and yourself after the fact that I’m sure you’ll figure out how to receive what you deserve for your work.

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