Hoping for a raise? Here’s how to ask.

ChangingCoursesquareBefore the market downturn of 2008, many workers could depend on receiving an annual or semi-annual raise. For some employees, this is no longer the case.

In fact, many employers continue to cut back on staff or hours just to remain in operation. Here are a few commonly known best practices and tips on how to ask for a raise and behaviors to avoid when asking.

Find out how much others working in similar jobs are earning

The first thing you should do before you ask for a raise is learn about typical salaries in your field. You can get this information by using salary calculator tools like Salary.com and looking at salary surveys. If you belong to a professional association, check with it to see if it has salary information available. Begin by looking at the organization’s website.

Know your salary range

Salary calculators and surveys generally present you with a range of salaries. You must determine where you should fit into this range. To do this, consider the number of years you’ve been working in the field and the length of time you’ve worked for your current employer.

Is the company doing well financially?

If your employer is having financial problems, this may not be the right time to ask for a raise alone. Do some company research, which includes looking at financial reports and following business news.

What have you done lately?

Think of it as selling yourself just as you would do if you were trying to get a prospective employer to hire you. Make a list of all the things you’ve accomplished in the past year or two years. Start with the most recent accomplishments and work your way backwards. Also make a list of your relevant skills and how you add value in the workplace.

Be ready to respond if the answer is “No.”

Before you walk into your boss’s office to ask for a raise, think about what you will do if she says “no” or agrees to give you a raise that is much smaller than the one you want. Will you quit your job, or will you wait a while and then ask for a raise at a later date?

For example, has she turned you down because of your performance? Think about what changes you can make. If there is some other reason you were turned down, talk to your boss to find out if she expects the situation to change and when things will change.

Know your numbers

Your boss may agree to give you a raise immediately. You may have to do nothing more than ask her for one. If that doesn’t happen, you may have to do more to convince your boss you should get a raise. Be ready to present the material you gathered earlier.

In closing, remember that you get a raise because you are worth more to the company. It is your responsibility to advocate for yourself to ensure your success and demonstrate your value to your employer.


Tammy McIntyre, M.Ed. is a workforce development consultant providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to mcintyre_tammy@rocketmail.com.