How to Ask for a Pay Raise

Many people would rather have a root canal than ask for a pay raise at work.

Why is that? Asking for a raise doesn’t have to be as painful as dental surgery. Here are a few things to help you prepare for the conversation with your boss:

Do your research.

Don’t let talk of “economic crisis” or “tightening the budget” deter you if you truly believe that you deserve a pay raise for the value you bring to your organization.

You do want to find out how the company finances are doing at the moment.

If the company slashed two departments’ budgets recently, you’ll have a tougher time negotiating a pay raise as opposed to making your request after the company just landed two lucrative client accounts.

Good bosses reward excellence. Make a list your achievements in measurable quantities and have a good idea what dollar compensation goes along with it.

This means you need to find out how your compensation compares to other jobs in companies that are comparable to your organization.

Use the Internet to get an idea of the salary for someone in the type of job your in. For example, go to

Find out how other people rate your performance at work—your boss included. These don’t have to be formal conversations, just a simple, “How do you think I’m performing at work?”

Never state your case on the basis of need. Organizations reward based on value added to the organization. You are justified in asking for a raise if:

  • You consistently contribute to company goals beyond expectations from your position.
  • You fill a more demanding position over time, which usually pays more money.
  • You haven’t had a raise in a reasonable period of time.
  • You have an offer from another employer for more money and you are prepared to make a change if necessary.

Be prepared and be sure of your facts. Once you’ve done your research and have listed your achievements, you’re prepared to negotiate.

Choose the right time.

The best time to discuss pay raises is at performance review time. If that’s too far away or never occurred, choose the time and place when your boss is most apt to give you a fair hearing.

Once you have the meeting set, get right to the point. Give your specific contributions.

Suggest your potential for greater contributions. Present the evidence that your pay is not up to scale and state the increase you think is fair.

Be ready to discuss your performance or to calmly address your boss’s questions. Most importantly, be prepared to compromise. You want to keep the door open for further negotiations later.

Consider other forms of compensation.

If your organization is reluctant to add to your salary, what about time—as in paid time off or vacation?

Perhaps you can negotiate an additional week or 10 days.

Or maybe you can negotiate to work six hours a day instead of eight. This will free up some time for you, while not affecting your salary.

You effectively increase your income dollars per hour.

Another clever way to make more money on the job is to negotiate a bonus. If you do project or sales work in particular, you may be able to arrange bonus dollars for exceeding a target.

Most importantly, you need to understand that when you ask for a pay raise, a “no” response only applies for that moment. Ask your boss what you might do to earn that raise.

Listen to his/her feedback and act on it immediately. Perform your job well, document your achievements, do your research, and plan to open negotiations again in a few months.