1. Get the Job
  2. Get Ahead
  3. Office Life
  4. Work-Life Balance
  5. Home Office
Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.
Build Your Career Get Ahead

How and When to Ask for a Raise

How and When to Ask for a Raise
Credit: Production Perig/Shutterstock

Most people cringe at the thought of asking their boss for a pay raise. But if you don't work for a company that gives its employees regular annual salary increases and you're not up for a promotion, it's the only way to get that raise you know you rightfully deserve.

Even more uncomfortable than asking for a salary increase? Going through a salary negotiation. Doing this successfully means knowing your boss and how they function. Some will argue that there's never the perfect time to ask for a raise as there are always things going on, but it should go without saying that asking for a raise at a sensitive time – such as when the company is laying people off, your department had low numbers for the quarter, or your boss is dealing with a difficult personal situation – is not a good idea.

If you can schedule a meeting with your boss in advance instead of knocking on their door and popping the raise question on them, it will show that you are considerate of their time. If your boss is especially busy on a certain day of the week, scratch that day off your list.

Once the meeting is scheduled, treat your meeting prep like a college research report: dig up information, make notes compiling and editing your data, and put it together as one polished product. Here's what you should cover in your salary negotiation.

Make note of how your accomplishments made a positive impact on your department and company as a whole, with specific numbers and statistics if possible. For example, you could say: "In the past year I generated 5,000 leads for the company – an increase of 8 percent from the prior year. The resulting sales equaled $58,000 in new business." It would be hard for any manager to turn down a raise request with numbers like those. The stronger data you have, the greater case you can make for a well-deserved raise.

On sites like salary.com and payscale.com, you can look up job listings that are comparable to your current job to get a general idea of the market average and how your current salary compares. Make sure to take company size and benefits into account. Corporations tend to pay more than small businesses and certain industries also tend to have higher pay scales. Of course, some companies just don't pay well, which is why it's best to consult hiring experts when possible. If you have any connections with local recruiters and hiring managers (perhaps on LinkedIn) you can ask them if they would look at your resume to provide you with a realistic salary goal for your position and experience.

In a salary negation, your boss does not care about your mortgage payments or the tropical vacation you want to go on. Your boss cares about what's in it for them. You've already explained what you've done for the company, but you'll also want to explain your plan for the future. Create a list of goals with a plan on how you will achieve those goals for the company.

Be confident when asking for a raise and use your lists as your support system.  Be prepared for some push back and know that the answer could be no. If you are given the raise, be prepared to continue to work hard. You knew you should get a raise; now show your boss you deserved it.

Marisa Sanfilippo

Marisa Sanfilippo is an award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses with a focus on digital marketing. After graduating Stockton University with a B.A. in Communications and minor in writing, Marisa worked as a freelance journalist for numerous publications, ultimately earning a position as an e-marketing specialist for a credit union. While in that position, she earned HubSpot's Inbound Marketing Certification and helped build the organization’s digital marketing strategy from the ground up. Her efforts helped lead the credit union to success on and offline including: a 200%+ organic increase in Facebook followers, a sales generating blog, and much more. Later on, she worked on a social media campaign that gained recognition by The Huffington Post.