How to Ask for a Raise

If there were one way to make thousands of dollars in just 15 minutes, would you do it? It’s not a gimmick or a get-rich-quick scheme; it’s a real opportunity to boost your income, and yet, most people never do it. This magical solution? Getting a raise.

But only 37% of young professionals have ever asked for a pay increase; the majority cite discomfort talking about money and fear as their rationale for not having the conversation with their bosses. This is a costly mistake. Experts suggest that if you don’t negotiate, you lose out on between $500,000 and $1 million over the course of your career.  

While you may love your job or feel lucky to have any job at all in a rocky economy, salary negotiation is essential to your professional and financial success. In fact, most employers and managers expect employees to ask for a raise at some point. Not doing so can make you look timid, inexperienced, and not ready for more responsibility.

Many young professionals write off their efforts as too junior to matter, but what you do contributes to the company’s bottom line and your performance should be noted and respected. Take confidence in your role, and enter salary negotiations with these tips:

  1. Do Your Research: If you’re unsure if you’re underpaid or not, check out sites like or to find what employers — perhaps even your own — are paying people in similar positions. If you discover your pay is below the average market value, that can help your case.
  2. Plan Strategically: While it’s important to ask for a raise, be mindful about when you make the request. It will look naïve and out of touch if you ask for an increase after just three months on the job or after a costly mistake. A good time to ask for a better salary is at your year-end review or after you delivered excellent results on a high-profile project.
  3. Prepare a Brag Book: Break out your job description and compare it with what you have accomplished to date. In a document, highlight achievements, specific examples of when you did more than your job description and key results. Outlining your performance milestones gives concrete proof that you deserve a higher wage.
  4. Be Professional: While you might be desperate for cash because your car broke down, that isn’t a valid reason to ask for a raise from your manager. Instead, stick to what you contributed to the workplace and how you were an asset.
  5. Respond Gracefully: Your boss will likely ask how much you’re looking for, and that’s where your research comes into play. Most raises are typically around the 4-5% mark, so that’s a reasonable goal. Be polite but firm with what you ask for without apologizing for asking or faltering.
  6. Consider Flexibility: If your manager says she just can’t give you a raise at this time, consider other perks you might accept instead. Perhaps instead of an increase, you could negotiate for more vacation time or the ability to telecommute one day a week.
  7. Be Persistent: If your boss says a raise isn’t going to happen and she can’t offer you extra vacation time, be persistent about asking about next steps. Ask what you need to accomplish to qualify for a raise, and ask if you can revisit the conversation in six months. A good manager will be receptive to this approach and will work with you to define a path forward.

Remember, it is perfectly normal, and even expected, to ask for a raise when you have done great work. If your request is reasonable and has a solid basis with proof behind it, a decent manager will be receptive and understanding, not angry or insulted. It’s up to you to be an advocate for yourself and ask for what you deserve.

Content Survey (Inline)

We want to know what you think!