If we had to make a list of “the most nerve-racking conversations to have with your boss,” asking for a raise would come in at #1. We get it, talking about money can be awkward. But re-evaluating your compensation is an important part of growing your career. If you’ve taken on new responsibilities at work or advanced your skills while on the job, your value is always increasing.
Important tip: Keep in mind that all organizations have budgets to manage and can’t always meet increased salary demands. When discussing compensation, it’s best to keep it professional, rather than straying into personal matters like increasing household costs, personal debt or financial responsibilities. Yes, inflation is high and the cost of living is increasing, but the most important thing to highlight to your employer is the value you’re bringing to the table.
Here are four steps to take when asking for a raise:
1. Consider the timing: When you ask the question is almost as important as how you ask the question. Aim to kick off the conversation during budget planning season—this gives your boss the opportunity to include any additional salary costs for the fiscal year. If budget planning has come and gone, your annual review is another opportune moment for this conversation. Your boss will already have your contributions top of mind and the question of compensation is typically expected during reviews.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare: Make sure you know what kind of increase is reasonable by doing your research ahead of time. Use websites like Glassdoor to research industry salaries, ask to review your company’s salary grid, or use LinkedIn to set up networking calls with people in your field to get an understanding of what your salary should be based on your responsibilities, years of experience and accomplishments. Use this information when making the ask.
3. Back up your ask: This is the fun part—make a laundry list of your wins and achievements to bring your ask home. Take a look at the numbers. How much growth have you achieved in your role? Have you increased sales or engagement? How many additional responsibilities have you taken on? How have you made your team’s jobs easier through your work? Write out your list and back it up with testimonials from your colleagues. Bonus tip: Keep a folder in your inbox where you save words of praise from your team members, senior leaders, clients and customers. These make for great social proof when asking for a raise or promotion.
4. Think ahead: Now that you have your accomplishments, it’s time to look to the future. What are your goals for the next year in your role? Are you going to be tackling any big projects? Managing additional people? Working toward ambitious sales goals? Part of your value is what you’ll bring to the organization going forward. Make sure you can speak about future goals, too!
Ready to kick off the conversation?
Customize the scripts below to get started.
While every workplace is different, these basic templates will help you kick off the conversation. Being able to clearly communicate your ask, your worth (aka all the amazing things you contribute) and your excitement about growing with the company will help you navigate what can often be a challenging conversation.
Templates: How to tell your boss you want a raise
1. As we approach my [anniversary, review, milestone], I’ve been reflecting on how I’d like to grow with our company. During my time here, I’ve increased my responsibilities [examples]. I’ve also delivered impressive results and consistently receive positive feedback from the team. I’d like to ensure my salary reflects my new responsibilities and contributions. Please let me know your availability to discuss my compensation, and I’ll book a meeting.
2. You mentioned that you’re planning our team’s annual budget. Before the plans are finalized, I’d like to discuss my compensation with you. I love working here and am excited about the growth opportunities for my role. In the past year, I’ve increased my portfolio [examples] and expertise [examples]. I’d like to continue to grow with our company and want to make sure my salary reflects the added value I’ve brought to the team since I joined in [year]. Please let me know when you’re free to discuss, and I’ll set up a meeting.
What happens After You Ask for a Raise?
Okay, you’ve made your ask. Now what? The reality is, you likely won’t get an answer right away. Your boss will likely need to discuss it with the senior leadership team and review the budget (remember, timing!) before giving you a concrete answer.
While you’re waiting for their response, think of how you’ll navigate the conversation if the answer is no, or if they can’t meet your ask. Are there other, non-financial benefits that you’d be interested in? Perhaps you’d like increased benefits, a more flexible work schedule, additional vacation time or more opportunities for growth? Prepare a list of options that you can present as a back up.