Guide: How and When to Ask for a Raise at Your Job

Guide: How and When to Ask for a Raise at Your Job

By: Daniel Steingold | July 16, 2016

Whether it’s due to tenure, performance, or both, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll feel like you’re due a raise at your job.

The big question isn’t necessarily why you feel like you’re owed a bump in pay, but rather, how you should go about asking for it.

This post will discuss the appropriate way to ask for— and get— a pay increase at work.


Research shows that even when a worker feels like they’re due an increase in pay, they often don’t effectively seek it out.

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One study in 2013 found that 60 percent of workers don’t actually ask for a raise. This is despite the fact that over one-third of employees expressed that they would search for a new job if they didn’t get a pay raise in the next year, according to Glassdoor.

Other research conducted in 2015 by PayScale found that 57 percent of people haven’t asked for a raise in their current position. Although some of these respondents— 38 percent— expressed that their employers gave them a raise before they had to ask, 28 percent said that they were afraid to ask, while another 19 percent were scared to be perceived as being pushy.

For those who fall into this latter 47 percent, this guide should be of significant help.

Timing it Right

When looking for a raise, timing is crucial. It is important to look for a raise when you’re happy at your job; dissatisfaction will bode poorly when it comes to presenting evidence for why you should get a bump in pay.

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A study by U.S. News and World Report found that 44 percent of those satisfied with their job got a raise. On the other hand, less than 20 percent of employees who were dissatisfied with their job received a wage increase.

It has also been found that being happy with your job increases your likelihood of even asking for a raise in the first place. A happy employee getting a raise is a win-win; the employer gets a more loyal and productive worker, while the employee is better able to satisfy their aims.

It is important to note that pay negotiation is often easier done during the job interview process, as workplace policies can often restrict the ability to easily obtain a raise.

There is always hope for securing higher pay, but it’ll usually take more overt displays of skill if you’re not able to secure higher wages initially.

Okay, Now What?

Now that you’re more aware of the appropriate timing to ask for an increase in pay, it’s important to know how to present your case.

One big way you can prove yourself to deserve a raise is by using concrete data, statistics, and facts.

Whether this comes through demonstrating superior productivity compared to coworkers, case examples of how you helped customers or clients, or having made constructive improvements to company procedures and efficiency, you need to present yourself a solid case.

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If you’re relatively new at your job, it’s good to know what your company is looking for out of you. Talk with your boss about his or her biggest challenges and priorities, and always make sure to lend a helping hand.

This will help ensure a raise later on.

Nonetheless, when you present your case, you need to remain calm and collected. Don’t display frustration, anger, or animosity towards your boss or how the conversation is going.

You should be assertive, but not come across as being demanding. For many, the act of asking for a wage increase in the form of a question, as opposed to a demand or suggestion, is most effective.

Once you’ve already made your plea, it’s best to remain silent until you receive a response— overspeaking at this point can diminish your chances of getting a raise.

What You Should Avoid

There are certain phrasings and ways of speaking when trying to get a raise that are self-destructive to your ability to actually get that raise.

These include saying:

“I haven’t had a raise since…” “I’m doing the work of three people…” “I’ve been here for a year now…” “I’ve done everything I was supposed to do…” “I need a raise because I’m having personal problems…”

Each of these imply either character problems, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of communication.

On a final note, it’s important to remember to think from your employer’s perspective. It is all too easy to think about why you deserve a wage increase without thinking about why your employer should give you one.

It’s this simple: if you can’t articulate why you believe you deserve a wage increase, you probably won’t be able to successfully negotiate one.

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