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What is the best way to request a raise?


salary1-smallEddie at Adams State University asked:

What is the appropriate way to request a raise from your employer?

HI Eddie –

Now that is a complicated question!

There is no single approach that is appropriate for all circumstances, but I can offer a few guidelines.  Follow these and the conversation should be positive and productive, regardless of the outcome.

Be Prepared

If you want to ask for a raise, you had better be prepared to explain why you believe you deserve a raise. “I’ve been here for a year” is not a very strong argument.  Simply being somewhere doesn’t mean you added value.  Chances are pretty good that you are not the only person or project  your boss manages, so chances are also pretty good that your boss is not aware of everything you do on a daily basis to contribute to the success of your organization.  If you want more money, you have to be prepared with examples of why you deserve more money.

Remember, even if your boss wants to give you a raise, she/he has to defend that request within the organization (and perhaps with her/his own boss!).  Make that job easier by providing the evidence to support your claim.

Don’t Ambush

Schedule a mutually convenient time to meet.  Let your boss know why you want to meet. Make sure you schedule the meeting for a date and time of day that will not require you or your boss to rush through the conversation.   Don’t try to schedule the meeting at the busiest time of the day, week, quarter or year. Don’t spring the meeting on your boss before she/he has had time to prepare.  Don’t try to slip it into the agenda of a meeting on another topic. Conversations about money are awkward under any circumstances; don’t make your meeting extra awkward by ambushing your boss with the topic.

Be Respectful

Those awkward conversations about money are also delicate conversations.  They are not times for confrontation, particularly public confrontation. Respect the private, delicate nature of the conversation by selecting an appropriate and private place to meet and scheduling enough time for the conversation.  Keep the tone cordial and professional; avoid confrontational tones, words and body language.  You can be assertive and professional in presenting your case for a raise without being boastful or arrogant.  The goal  is to convince your boss you are deserving of a raise. That process of persuasion begins with establishing a climate of mutual respect!

Be Realistic

Just because you want a raise doesn’t mean that your company is in a position to give you a raise. When asking for a raise, you have to be realistic.  You have to understand the financial status of the organization that employs you, You have to be aware of the state of the economy in your industry and where you live geographically.  And, you must have a fundamental understanding of the “going rate” for people in your field with your level of skills, education and experience.

As a general rule, the harder it is to replace you, the more valuable you are to your organization, the more you can expect to earn.  The easier you are to replace, the less valuable your are to your organization, the less you can expect to earn.   It’s basic supply and demand.

Before you ask for a raise, as yourself:  Is what I am about to propose realistic in today’s marketplace? Do I really have  a chance of getting what I am requesting?”  If you can answer “YES” to both of these questions, you are ready to ask for the meeting – you are ready to ask for a raise.

If you prepare ahead of time, are careful not to ambush you boss with the topic, approach your boss and the topic with respect and are realistic in the raise you are requesting, chances are pretty good that the conversation will go well.

Now, a positive conversation will not guarantee you the raise, but it will establish your expectations and demonstrate your professionalism in handling a challenging topic.

Good Luck


PS – has produced a pretty good infographic on this topic: Should you ask for a raise?



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