How to Professionally Ask for a Raise: 6 Must-Know Tips

15 August 2022

How To Ask For A Raise 2

Asking for a raise can be nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep reading to learn how to professionally ask for a raise.​

If you find yourself paralyzed at the idea of asking for a raise, you’re not alone. You could be one of your organization’s most valued people, deliver stellar results on every task, and still cringe at the idea of salary negotiation. That’s natural: Some people simply find it anxiety-inducing to advocate for themselves with a company, even for things as important as their pay rate. 

Of course, a pay raise can still be within your reach despite the salary spookies. Below is an in-depth guide on how to professionally ask for a raise that will help you overcome your anxiety and negotiate like a pro. 

6 must-know tips when asking for a raise 

Below is some advice on how to ask for a salary increase. Each tip below can be effective in the right circumstances – the trick is knowing those circumstances. As in, bursting into your boss’s room and demanding a raise isn’t going to get you anywhere (except maybe out the door). Instead, give yourself time to come up with a great pitch using the below tips. 

1 Find any and all positive feedback since your last performance review

The first step to getting a raise is proving that you’ve earned it with your recent job performance. To that end, keep careful records of the positive feedback you receive while on the job – try keeping a folder on your desktop. 

Showing that you’ve improved since your last performance review can be a major point in your favor. And hey – if proof of the excellent work you do doesn’t get you a salary adjustment, it can at least leave you feeling confident. 

2 Come prepared with data and numbers

Proving that you deserve a raise isn’t just about saying what you’ve done; it’s about showing how your actions have improved the organization. Don’t say you’re a valuable employee; show how you’ve helped get several big-time projects across the finish line. Use clear, concise data to get as specific as possible on how you’ve worked wonders for the organization. The more wonders you work, the more money you deserve.

3 Explain what you’ll bring to the team in the coming year

When making your pitch, don’t just speak about what you’ve done in the past – talk about what you’re going to do. Yes, showcasing what you’ve accomplished in the past is important, but many bosses see a raise as an investment, not just a salary. They might not see the point of giving a pay increase to someone with one foot out the door. So while you’re at a meeting to discuss a raise, be clear that you’re excited to grow with the company and advance your career.  

4 Show yourboss why they’d want to give you more money

An argument that would work on one boss might not work on another. Just as with sales, you need to tailor your pitch to the audience – your boss, not just some made-up boss in your head. That starts with learning your boss’s vision for the company’s future and tying your pitch to that. Convince them that giving you a raise is necessary to meet their overall goals – you might just get what you want.

5 Identify the salary range you’ll ask for and know how to justify it

Arguably the worst part of the negotiation is when your boss asks you how much you want. It’s not always an easy question to answer off the top of your head, and even when it is, it might get your adrenaline pumping. It can help to come prepared with a number so that you don’t back down or flinch. 

It’s a good idea to do some research on salary data before it’s time to meet your boss. That could involve looking up the average pay for your job title within the industry online. You could also ask your colleagues about how much they make. Not everyone will be willing to share, but since this question is becoming more common as younger generations push for transparency, why not ask? Maybe you’ll find out you can push your request for a raise higher than you’d ever imagined.

6 Practice and record yourself making your ask

They say practice makes perfect, and that’s true with salary negotiations too. Before you ask for your raise, review the data you’ve collected and rehearse your pitch to be sure you’re putting your best foot forward. One good technique is to record yourself giving the pitch – sure, that’ll feel weird at first, but it can help a ton. It’s a great way to find and correct any nervous body language or unnecessary filler words. 

How do you professionally ask for a raise via email?

Generally, you don’t. Salary negotiations are almost always more effective when done face to face. However, in the super rare cases when email is your only option, you’re not at a complete loss.

To ask for a raise via email, start your email politely. Briefly talk about how much you appreciate and enjoy working at the organization. From there, concisely describe how you’ve helped the organization succeed. Then, pitch a new salary based on the salary data you’ve found in your research. And if you’re more comfortable doing this face-to-face, say so in your email and try to set up a date. 

What is a reasonable raise to ask for?

Short answer? It depends. As you’ve probably realized by now, many factors go into salary negotiations. How long have you been at the organization? What’s the quality of your work? How’s the organization doing overall? 

Those questions and more can determine how likely your boss is to give you a pay increase. Your best bet is to find the average and higher-end salaries for your role and industry and try to argue for something in the middle. Or you could shoot higher than what you actually want so that your boss goes lower to satisfy you. That lower number might be the number you actually want.

Things to avoid when asking for a raise

You now have a decent playbook for what you should do when asking for a pay increase. To add to that, below are a few things that you should avoid. 

1 Don’t bring up other team members’ salaries

Avoid mentioning how much your team members are paid as a reason why you want a salary increase. While you can ask your colleagues how much they make, you should only use what you hear to figure out your target salary. Naming your team members at a salary negotiation meeting can drag them into something that isn’t directly their concern.

2 Don’t use personal reasons to negotiate

You might be going through something personal that requires you to make more money. While that issue might be challenging, you should keep it to yourself. Unless you know your boss particularly well, telling them about personal hardship typically won’t help you make your case. Instead, build your pitch around why you deserve a raise based on your work, not your life. 

3 Don’t give an ultimatum

Confidence is key when negotiating a raise. Arrogance…not so much. Don’t use your employment as a bargaining chip – “I’ll leave if I don’t get a raise” just isn’t worth it. You’re never guaranteed a raise, and would you rather be unemployed or just a tad underpaid? Don’t demand a raise – ask for one and professionally show why you deserve it.