You work hard day in and day out. You put in the effort required and then some. You have taken on more and more but you haven’t received a raise that you feel equals your performance. What should you do?

Ask for it!

You are going to learn how to ask for a raise when you are underpaid.

I know it can be hard to approach your boss if you aren’t sure how to ask for a raise but with some thought and preparation, you have an excellent chance of being successful.

Help in getting a raise.

To get you there, I am going to detail out how to ask for a raise in the post below using my years of insights as an HR professional.

I have been asked by employees for raises too many times to count so I know what works and what doesn’t. So, stay with me…

{This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy here}

Asking for a raise is much easier than starting a side business, drastically changing your lifestyle by slashing your expenses, changing jobs, etc. It’s a good place to start making more money.

Learning how to ask for a raise can feel daunting but I assure you it isn’t if you follow these steps:

1. To get started, you need to ask yourself some very important questions

Why are you asking for a raise?

If you are only asking for a raise because you NEED extra money, STOP! Do not proceed!

The reason is you must be killing it in your job to get a raise.

how to ask for a raise and get it

If you aren’t performing at a high level, don’t ask for a raise because of your personal circumstances.

I can’t tell you how many times an employee has asked me for a raise because of their personal issues (ie, they’re getting a divorce, they can’t pay their rent, they just took a month off to travel and now they need money, and on and on). Although I often feel for them. I really do but, it is NOT a reason to get a raise!

The employee has to prove they deserve one because of their stellar performance.

EMPLOYERS PAY FOR PERFORMANCE, NOT PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES.

If you go in asking for money only because you need more money, you are very unlikely to be successful and your credibility with your boss is probably going to be damaged. They won’t forget. Trust me. 

If you aren’t in a position to ask for a raise quite yet but are in need of more money, look for every way to save money and earn money

This leads to my next question…

Are you sure you deserve a raise?

Time to look in the mirror.

How to get a raise - Baby looking in mirror.

If you can answer yes to all of the following questions and provide examples to back your answers up, you are in a good spot to ask for a raise:

  • You consistently exceed performance expectations and have a reputation for consistently producing the highest quality of work.
  • You consistently deliver the highest levels of customer service.
  • You take the initiative to add value to work AND the company and go above and beyond basic work expectations.
  • You are a strong team player who is sought out by other employees for help and usually find the time to assist them.
  • You are passionate about the company and energize others.
  • Your performance consistently impacts company profitability.

Make sure when you are answering these questions, you can come up with great examples when you demonstrated this skill or quality.

Write a list of your major accomplishments in the last year or so. Did you improve team productivity, save the company money, make the company more money than expected, perform above average on an important project, develop your direct reports, receive customer compliments, etc.

Do you have company determined goals?

If you and your boss have already set goals, well this is gold! All you have to do in addition to the questions above is meet and exceed them to give yourself the best business case for a raise.

2. Be honest with yourself.

If you aren’t feeling confident in your answers then you need to focus first on improving your performance. If you aren’t sure where you need to improve, take matters into your own hands and find out.

Check your job description.

Are you doing everything that is in your job description? If you answered no, then you know where you need to focus. Make sure you are meeting the requirements of your job. 

Are there areas of your job that aren’t in your job description? If your job has changed since your job description was written and you have taken on more responsibility, this is great justification for a raise.

Get feedback.

Maybe your boss isn’t great at giving feedback. Maybe your company doesn’t do performance reviews or they are suck.

The majority of bosses, in my experience, are not good at giving feedback and as a result, they don’t make it a priority. Sad but true.

Instead of sitting at your desk, talk to your boss about your performance. Don’t mention a raise yet. Ask for honest feedback. Ask what your manager thinks you are doing well, not well, and what they think you can improve on. This will give you a good idea as to where you stand with your boss. 

Tip: Book a meeting with your manager and tell them you are seeking performance feedback. This will give them time to prepare and give thoughtful answers.

This will give them time to prepare and give thoughtful answers.

3. Lay the Foundation.

If you have answered yes to all the questions above, you may want to consider taking a step back to ensure you have laid the foundation for asking for a raise. There are a few things you need to ensure have taken place before asking for a raise. The following are critical steps in learning how to ask for a raise.

Share your goals. Share your Wins.

If you haven’t been clear with your boss, make sure he/she knows your ambitions (ie, increased responsibility, promotion, etc).

If you sought and received feedback from your boss as described above, make sure you take immediate action. Your boss should know about your progress. If you nailed a project or brought on a new client, make sure your boss knows. 

Don’t assume your boss knows. 

Don’t think your boss should know without you telling them.

Don’t take on more responsibility and complain about it.

If you have asked for and agreed to more responsibility, don’t freakin complain about it!

Be happy you have the opportunity. Crush your job.

Here is an example I hear too often: “I took on all this extra responsibility and my boss hasn’t given me a raise!” Yes, they probably haven’t…yet.

Give enough time to prove to your boss that you are able to handle the extra responsibility. Once you have proven your capability, then you can get ready to ask for a raise but not until then.

4. Do your research.

Do your best to find out what your position is being paid at other companies.

Possible data sources:

  • If you are a member of a professional association, chances are they do a salary survey. Check out their website to see if you can find it or give them a call to ask.
  • Network and ask people from other companies in your area who are in the same role. 
  • Ask HR professionals from other companies.
  • Check out websites like GlassDoor and PayScales. Unfortunately, you have to take the data you get from these websites with a grain of salt as it could be old data. If you do use them, make sure you use more than one source.

Don’t give a range. 

If you give a range of between $50 and 60K, likely they are going to give you $50. If you had said $60K, you probably had just as good of chance settling on a number somewhere in the middle.

Also, giving a range makes you sound like you don’t really know what you are worth. Once you have done your research, pick a number that is slightly higher than what you feel is fair and realistic.

For example, if you think you should be paid $60K, ask for $62K. This is just a little mind trick. For some reason, bosses want to negotiate and we tend to like round numbers.

7. Time your request.

Make sure you time your request right. This is an important one to learn in how to ask for a raise. 

How to ask for a raise, time it right.

Do ask after a big accomplishment. If you did spectacularly well on something this is a good time. 

Do ask during budget time for the next fiscal year. If a raise isn’t in the budget and you ask after the budget is approved, well you are less likely to get it. But if you ask when you know your boss is in budgeting, they might be able to reallocate some dollars. Keep in mind you might not get the raise until the new fiscal year. 

Don’t ask if your boss is stressed out. You will just be adding to their stress and the answer will likely be no.  Wait for a better day unless your boss is stressed all the time.

Don’t ask if the company isn’t doing well. If you are a solid performer, they still will likely not have any funds to spare. Also, if layoffs are taking place, it isn’t really in good taste. What you should do is look for ways to improve the performance of the company. Maybe you have a cost savings idea or you want to go after a new client with a different approach. This is a great time to bring up your ideas.

6. Rehearse

Write your script, your business case.

Physically write out what you are going to say and then read it out loud. This will allow you to see what doesn’t work about your script. Then edit, edit, edit.

Make sure you are presenting a compelling business case with facts and preferably numbers. For example,  I grow my territory’s revenue by 30% this year as a result of …

Be succinct. Get to the point. Don’t mince words. Be direct.

Talk about your future with the company.

Make sure your boss knows that you are loyal and are excited about your future there.  This will show that your intentions are good and that you are simply seeking to be fairly compensated for the work you do.

Never give an ultimatum.

That’s unless you are prepared to leave the company. Ultimatums are a terrible idea because they are confrontational and your boss will feel like you are trying to hold them over a barrel and nobody likes that. If it works, it will be short term as you will have unnerved your boss and they won’t forget it.

Never compare yourself to others.

“I work so much harder than Jim so I deserve a raise. Jim doesn’t pull his weight.” This is just in poor taste.

Never compare yourself to your co-workers. Your raise should be based on your performance against the expectations of the job and market equity. Nothing more. 

Set the meeting up in advance.

Don’t drop by your boss’s office unannounced and spring this on him/her. They might not have the time or energy to deal with your request at that moment. Set up a meeting and let them know you would like to discuss your current compensation. This will allow for them to mentally prepare and possible work out some numbers in advance.

Be prepared to hear no.

There could be many reasons for being turned down such as:

  • Your performance isn’t high enough.
  • You have interpersonal issues, you aren’t a team player or your attitude sucks.
  • You got a raise not too long ago.
  • It’s not in the budget.
  • The company isn’t performing well.
  • You are at the top of the range.
  • You have to wait until your performance review.

Try your best to find out why your request is being rejected.

Does your boss think you don’t deserve it? If no, be open to their feedback and ask to revisit in 3 months. If you receive feedback, make sure you act on it.

Don’t be resentful.

Resentment will lead to other issues like sliding performance, interpersonal issues, etc. If you become resentful, you will never get a raise. People will notice.

Further, if you are turned down due to factors outside of your control such as no budget, economic conditions, etc, ask that your compensation is reviewed at a set timeframe (ie, 3 months) or when conditions improve.

Ask for something smaller.

Also, this is a good time to ask for something smaller especially if your boss if feeling bad about rejecting your raise request, such as being able to occasionally work from home, conference attendance, a few extra days of vacation time. 

7. If you can’t take a no.

If you are turned down and you can’t accept the no, you need a backup plan.

Will you start looking for another job? Before you commit to this, do some homework now to see how realistic it will be to get a better paying job. How many positions are posted in your area that you are qualified for?

Will you start your own business? That might be a viable option if you are unhappy with your income potential not being in your control. If you are seriously considering this, make sure to research the viability of your business idea before asking for a raise. 

Don’t leverage a job offer to get more money.

If you went out and got a job offer, it might strong-arm your boss into giving you a raise especially if they are in a tight spot and feel like they can’t afford to lose you right now. But rest assured, you will have left a sour taste in his or her mouth. This approach will not serve you in the long run. Your boss may start to withhold future raises, professional development opportunities, interesting assignments, and even promotions. 

Also, they might bid you adieu. If they can’t meet or beat the offer and/or really hate being pushed into a corner, they may send you packing. If you are okay with that, then don’t worry and go for it. But if you would like to stay, then don’t risk it. 

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. 

How to ask for a raise script.

If you are nervous, it can be challenging to get your words right in the moment. That’s why I have created a script for you! 

This will give you exactly what to say when asking for a raise.

Don’t read straight from your script in front of your boss, though. This will be awkward and unnatural. What you need to do is rehearse it enough so that it rolls off your tongue naturally. 

It is okay to have some bullet points to glance when you are making your pitch to so you keep on point.

Watch your body language

When you are meeting with your boss, make sure you are aware of your body language. Ensure it is positive – open arms, neutral facial expression, good posture, maintain eye contact, etc.

Check out this short 2 minute and 45-second video by Mind Tools on Body Language.

Or this TedTalk by Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy that runs 21 minutes.

Follow up with a written request.

After you have made your request in writing, let your boss know you are going to send an email to put your request in writing. This can be particularly helpful if your boss needs to get approval from higher-ups. If it is well-written, your boss will be able to use it as his/her business case. 

So how to ask for a raise in writing when you have already asked in person? You essentially just take your script and put it into an email.

Final Thoughts.

If you follow these steps to learn how to ask for a raise and take the do’s and don’ts to heart, you stand a good chance in getting the raise you deserve. 

Remember, you need to get it right the first time. Your boss isn’t going to want to have this conversation with you more than once a year or so. So you need to be on your A-game and present a well-thought-out and professional business case. 

With all of this being said, if you are in need of money now, you should take a deep look at your financial situation.

To bring more money in, I highly recommend that you read my article titled Super Simple & Flexible Ways to Make Extra Money for ideas that you can put to work. Also, most of us spend around 15 % of our income on food! Isn’t that crazy!

To combat this, I further recommend that you read my articles Eat Healthy on a Tight Budget and Meal Planning for Beginners

DON’T FORGOT YOUR SCRIPT!

I sincerely hope you found this post to be helpful and I deeply appreciate you reading it.

If you like this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you shared it!