The Best Way to Ask for a Salary Increase

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Editor’s Note: The author of this blog is Jennie VanderHooven, Granite State College’s academic advisor and career specialist. She offers career development and planning resources to assist prospective and current students, as well as alumni. These resources include resume and cover letter writing, job search tips, networking advice, career assessments, and more.


So, you’ve decided you want a raise. Sitting down with your boss and asking for a salary increase can be a daunting endeavor, but sometimes it’s a necessary conversation to have. It is perfectly okay and normal to ask for a raise from your manager when the time is right. Your job satisfaction is important, and you should always be compensated appropriately for the work you perform.

Career advisors like me are experts at supporting students by guiding them with strategies to prepare them for success.

Let’s look at some tips to help you prepare for a salary negotiation meeting, and a few key steps to follow when asking for a raise.

Choose the Right Time to Ask

It’s incredibly important that you choose the right time to initiate salary negotiation conversations. It may be best to avoid asking for a raise during complicated time periods. This includes times when the company is making financial cuts or layoffs.

Many companies have set times during the year when they review performance and consider promotions and pay increases. As long as you receive positive feedback from your manager about your performance, then review season is generally a good time to ask for a raise. However, you can initiate salary negotiation conversations outside of this time period as well.

There are several other factors that could indicate it’s an appropriate time to ask for a raise. For example, has it been more than a year since your last pay increase? Have you taken on more responsibilities since you started your position or had an increased workload for at least the last six months? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then it could be the right time.

When the time is right, schedule a one-to-one meeting with your manager to discuss your performance and salary.

Discuss the Value You Have Brought to the Company

I recommend starting the conversation by touching upon how much you enjoy your job. This will help to steer the conversation in a positive direction. Then, branch into discussing the value you’ve brought to the company. These will be some of the most important points to support your justification for why you deserve a raise.

When possible, bring hard data and discuss key performance indicators (KPIs) to provide evidence. This could include data showing: the success of projects you made a significant contribution to, increased profits for the company, or specific processes that improved as a result of your work. Utilizing these KPIs will illustrate how valuable you are to the company.

In addition to key performance indicators, make sure you discuss any extra responsibilities you’ve taken on. Are you performing tasks that weren’t part of your initial duties when you were hired? This will indicate the importance of being compensated for the extra work you’re doing.

Prepare Competitive Salary Data

Once you’ve made it clear the value you bring to the company, it’s time to negotiate a pay raise. Make sure you’ve done your research ahead of time, so you can discuss the average salary range for someone in your position with equivalent experience. You should have hard data to back this up. You can use tools such as the Monster Salary Calculator, LinkedIn Salary Tool, and Glassdoor to do research. Additionally, if you have friends in similar roles, discuss salary with them to get a clearer picture of competitive pay rates.

When doing salary research, make sure to consider your specific industry, which can make a big difference in average salary. For example, a marketing specialist working for a large financial corporation will likely be paid significantly more than one working at a small private retail company.

Location also makes a big difference when it comes to salary rates, because the cost of living varies greatly. For example, police officers working in a big city are generally paid more than police officers working in a small rural town. You need to consider all of these factors when conducting and presenting your salary research.

This data will help you determine a clear average salary range for professionals in your role. You can compare this against your current salary and determine an appropriate increase amount to ask for. Make sure you’re clear in asking for what you want – you should request a definitive dollar amount or percentage increase.

You should expect to negotiate this amount with your manager, so I advise asking for slightly more than the amount you actually want. For example, if you’re hoping for a five percent raise, ask for seven percent. It’s likely that your manager will counteroffer with something a little lower than what you ask for. By adding that extra padding into your request, you’re accounting for negotiation. This will make it more likely for you to receive the amount you want.

Discuss Your Vision for the Long Haul

One of the most important points to touch upon is to address the question, “Why should your boss want to give you a raise?” They may not ask you this precise question directly, but it’s valuable to help you consider their perspective.

To answer this question effectively, you should discuss your vision for the long haul. Your boss wants to make sure they’re investing in someone who is going to stick with them. Talk about how you’d like to continue to grow with the company and foresee yourself taking on more responsibilities in the future. This future planning mindset will display to your manager that you are serious about your commitment to the company for the long term.

Prepare a Written Request

Make sure you have prepared a formal, written request outlining the points you make in the conversation. This should include why you deserve a raise, the desired amount or percentage increase, and the comparable competitive salary rates for someone in your position.

Your manager will likely need this document to discuss your request with other decision-makers and executives before a final decision is made.

If you want help writing and reviewing this request before your salary negotiation meeting, be sure to reach out to our career advising team for assistance.

What to Expect

At the conclusion of the discussion, don’t expect an immediate answer. Your manager will likely need to discuss your request with higher-level executives. It is perfectly okay to ask for a timeframe on the decision and establish when you should check back in.

If your request is denied, your boss should provide reasons for the decision, whether they are based on your performance, the financial status of the company, or other factors. In this case, ask what you can do to be considered for a raise in the future. However, if your employer gives you a hard no, you should also consider your other options. Are you content to stay in your current position without a raise or do you want to leave to find a new job? Try writing out a pro and con list to determine where you stand.

Meet with a Career Advisor

Meeting with a career advisor like me can help you prepare for success. No matter what stage of your career journey you’re in, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

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