If you believe that you should be paid more for your work and want to do something about it, you have two choices: find a new, higher paying job or ask for a raise.
Both of these choices can introduce new anxieties but they are each a gateway to new opportunities. We can certainly help you find a new job. But if you like your current employer and believe you can grow there, it’s often a good idea to ask for a raise. After all, your employer may not know that you’re dissatisfied with your pay until you speak up.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to asking for a raise.
When to ask for a raise
It’s not uncommon to want a raise. In fact, in a recent Indeed survey, only 19 percent of people were comfortable with their rate of pay. However, when you do ask for a raise, you need to carefully choose your timing. Ask yourself the following questions as you’re identifying the right time to ask for a raise.
How is the financial health of the company?
If the company is not doing well, this is not the time to ask for a raise. As an employee, you may be aware of the company’s financial health. You should look for warning signs such as cutbacks in spending or layoffs. Check the news for stories about your employer or industry. Do company research and look at financial reports.
Even if the financial health of the company is good, this research will be useful to you when you talk to your manager.
How is your manager’s workload?
If you know that your manager is under a lot of stress or focused on too many things right now, it may not be the right time to ask for a raise. Paying attention to your manager’s moods and identifying how to help them demonstrates a level of maturity that will be useful to mention in your conversation about compensation.
When is the best time of the year to ask for a raise?
In many businesses, there are times when it is natural or convenient to talk about pay. Some employers may conduct annual or quarterly reviews with employees. If you have one coming up, your employer might already expect to discuss your compensation.
The end of the financial year could be another option. A financial year is a 12-month period that companies use for budgeting and tax reporting purposes. At the close of that period (the end of March is common), employers are likely making hiring and compensation plans for the next year.
If you see that one of these opportunities is coming up, make note of it on your calendar. This will give you a head start on planning for the conversation with your manager.
Have you successfully completed a significant task or project?
If the company is doing well and your manager isn’t too stressed but a convenient time to ask for a raise isn’t coming up, reflect on your recent accomplishments. Have you just reached an impressive milestone or fulfilled an important goal? This could be a good time to ask for a raise.
Be sure to document the details of the specific accomplishment(s) you’ll reference in your conversation about a raise. Even though your manager may be aware of your work broadly, they may not be up to date on precisely how impressive it was.
Get salary trends
At this stage, you may be asking yourself how much of a raise to ask for.
Every job has a market value. This value is usually within a certain range. To learn the salary range for your job, visit Indeed Salaries and enter your job title. This salary information comes from over 450 million data points. You’ll be able to see the national salary trend for your job title. You can then choose the state or metro area where you work to get a pay rate that’s appropriate for your city.
On each salary trend page, you’ll see a figure that is ‘most reported’ (see note below). Your education, experience and other factors will influence how your pay rate compares to that figure.
By learning about the trend for your job title and your city, you will have a foundation for understanding the monetary value of your work. From there, take the following steps:
- Compare what you’re currently being paid to the trends you find. Where you fall within that range may affect the increase in pay that you ask for.
- Consider your education, years of experience, years you’ve worked for your current employer and any specialised skills or attributes you bring to the table. These all add value by increasing your ability to perform the job. Ideally, your employer would take them into account when determining your compensation.
- Make a list of your accomplishments, taking note of which ones added the most value to the organisation. When possible, use numbers to illustrate an accomplishment. For example, “Launched a rebranded company website, which resulted in 20 percent month over month increase in site visits last quarter.”
- Identify a salary range or percentage increase in pay that you’d be happy with. Note that 3 percent is considered an average or even generous pay increase. That shouldn’t necessarily deter you from asking for more if you believe your current pay is significantly out of alignment with what you could earn but it can give you an idea of where to start.
Note: All salary figures are approximations based upon third-party submissions to Indeed. These figures are given to Indeed users for the purpose of generalised comparison only. Minimum wage may differ by jurisdiction and you should consult the employer for actual salary figures.
Set a meeting
It’s ideal to ask for a raise in person and in private. If you’re not in the same location as your manager, have the conversation over a video call, if possible.
Do not ask for a raise without setting an appointment on the calendar first. The best setting is a room with a closed door. Don’t discuss it in workplace common areas such as a kitchen or hallway. If you can avoid it, don’t ask for a raise in an email.
If you have a performance review coming up, you may not need to expressly invite your manager to a meeting since that review may already be on the calendar. If you’re not asking for a raise during a performance review, you may want to put the meeting on the calendar at least two weeks in advance.
In either case, it’s good to let your manager know that you plan to discuss compensation in this meeting. Here are some lines you can use in the meeting description or in an email.
- “Would it be all right if we spent some time during my performance review discussing my compensation?”
- “I’d like to set a short meeting to discuss my compensation. Please let me know if this time works for you.”
You should approach asking for a raise with the same level of seriousness you would have for a job interview or an important presentation and you should dress accordingly. Even if your workplace has a relaxed dress code, consider dressing slightly more formally for this meeting. Your appearance can convey to your manager that you understand the significance of the conversation.
What to say to get a raise
Before your meeting, you should prepare what you’re going to say to get a raise. Below, we’ve listed some guidelines and an example script.
As you’re preparing, it may be helpful to recognise that feelings of fear and anxiety are natural when discussing money. Writing and practicing a script is one way to manage those feelings. If you rehearse it enough, you’ll be able to stick to it even when you’re nervous. Throughout your script, focus on the professional rather than personal reasons why you deserve this raise.
How to start?
Begin your conversation by clearly stating the purpose of the meeting. You may consider opening lines such as:
- “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. In my current role, I’m excited to keep working towards key company goals and grow my personal responsibilities. As a result, I’d like to discuss my salary.”
- “Thank you for taking this meeting. I’m excited to share some of my recent accomplishments with you and discuss my salary. Is now a good time for that?”
If your manager is open to the conversation from there, follow up with specifics. Tell them the increase or salary figure you’d like, cite the research you’ve done to arrive at that number and close with examples of your work that justify a raise. When you give an example of your work include a metric that makes the value clear. Here are some examples of accomplishments backed by metrics:
- “Over the last few months, I planned and then executed our largest client event to date. Attendee feedback significantly surpassed last year’s event satisfaction scores, averaging 8 out of 10. Lead generation is also up 10 percent since last year.”
- “I’ve consistently exceeded my sales quota. Most recently reaching 128 percent of my monthly goal.”
Here’s an example script for asking for a raise.
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. In my current role, I’m excited to keep working towards key company goals and grow my personal responsibilities. As a result, I’d like to discuss my salary.
Based on the research I’ve done, which includes looking at averages for my job title in this metro area and considering my tenure here, my years of experience and skill set, a salary increase of X percent is appropriate.
In the time since my last salary adjustment, I’ve worked on several initiatives that have added significant value to the company. For instance, in the last few months, I [insert an example of your most impressive accomplishment.] These achievements have made me ready for a raise.
Does that sound fair?
Pro-tip: Throughout your pitch, avoid words that could undercut your position such as believe, feel, think, just, only, might. These words can make it seem that you are not feeling confident or sure. And if you convey uncertainty, your manager may become uncertain too. Go into this conversation knowing that you deserve a raise and communicate your confidence with strong words that leave little room for negotiation.
What to expect
If you’ve asked for a raise at a good time and given evidence that you deserve to be paid more, you should expect your manager to give your request careful consideration.
You can expect them to ask you follow-up questions such as inquiring about the details of your recent accomplishments or the salary research you’ve done.
You can also expect there to be some negotiation. Listen carefully to how your manager responds to your request. If you feel intimidated at any point, return back to your evidence to strengthen your case. Ask your own questions to understand where they’re coming from. Phrases such as “Can you tell me more about…?” and “What I’m hearing…” can create space in the conversation for more understanding. Here’s an example of how a conversation may unfold.
Manager: Thank you for that overview. While I agree that you’ve contributed a great deal to the company, a raise of X percent may not be possible at this time.
Employee: From my research, I’ve learned that X percent is a reasonable increase and in line with what I have contributed. Can you tell me more about why that increase isn’t possible today?
Manager: That amount is not something I have in the budget right now but it’s something I could make a case for in the future.
Employee: That makes sense. What I’m hearing is that you agree that my receiving a raise is appropriate but maybe not right now. How can I help you make that case in the near future?
Of course, there is the possibility that you receive a rejection when you ask for a raise. In this case, you should learn more about why you are being rejected. Ask the following questions.
- “Are there skills or accomplishments you’d like to see from me before increasing my compensation?”
- “Are you satisfied with my overall performance?”
- “Is there a better time for us to have this conversation in the near future?”
It’s also normal at this stage to negotiate about the salary increase you initially suggested. You may need to ask for a lower amount if you are met by a lot of resistance.
If a raise doesn’t seem possible at this time, you may consider asking about other elements of your compensation such as variable pay or flexible hours.
After asking for a raise
Regardless of how the conversation went, end by thanking your manager for their time. Later that day or the next, send them a follow-up email that recaps your reasons for asking for a raise and include a summary of the conversation you had.
If your manager needs to ask someone else about your raise, this email will make it easier for them to have a conversation on your behalf. If they rejected your request for a raise, this email can serve as a record of the conversation. You may decide to request a raise again at a later date and you can reference this email at that point.
If you feel you are not being compensated fairly and aren’t making progress with your current employer, it may be time to look for a new job. On Indeed, you can research employers and see how they are rated for compensation, benefits and job security, advancement among other factors.