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by Max Woolf | February 12, 2020


Asking for a raise is scary. When you play the scenario in your mind, it probably makes your stomach turn. The truth is talking about money is hard. But the good news is there are tested strategies you can use to ask for more money—and get it. Here are the four key steps to take when asking for a raise.

1. Make Sure You Deserve a Raise Before You Ask

If you want to get a raise, you need to prove you deserve it. If you struggle to keep up with the current workload or you plainly lack certain skills, you’ll have a hard time convincing your boss you deserve a raise. So before you ask for money, have a good reason for it.

Ask yourself the following questions: Do I get a lot of positive feedback from my boss? Are my performance reviews good? Do I go the extra mile to get the job done? Do I work well with my coworkers? Have I had some significant accomplishments in the last three to six months? Am I creating extra value for the company?

When you can say “yes” to all, or at least most of the above questions, that’s when you know you deserve a raise.

2. Know How Much to Ask for When Negotiating a Raise

Before you approach your manager for a raise, make sure you do some research first. While the average salary increase is 3.1 percent, it’s a good idea to learn about your company’s specific raise figures. You can ask your HR team for the info or ask other employees that have worked with the company for a while. Another option is to reach out to recruiters on LinkedIn you may be in touch with and ask them for help.

In general, though, you can ask for 10 to 20 percent more money than you’re currently making without coming off as greedy. So, if your current salary is $60,000, you can safely ask for $66,000 to $72,000.

3. Make an Inventory of Your Contributions

So far so good. You know you deserve a raise, and you know how much of a raise to ask for. Now⁠ you need specific ammo to speak about. Otherwise, it’ll be hard to convince your boss.

For starters, come up with a list of your measurable achievements from the past year. Make a list of all of the following that apply: projects that helped save money or time for the company (and how much money or time—it’s okay to estimate); anytime you exceeded your targets (and by how many percentage points, if applicable); how many new hires you trained and got up to speed; all the certifications, awards, or honors you received related to your job and field; and all the extra responsibilities you took on.

Having as many facts and figures as you can about your recent accomplishments will significantly increase your chances of getting a raise.

4. Make a Move

After you’ve made a list of accomplishments, you’re ready to make the ask and get your boss to say, “You’re right. You deserve a raise.”

The first thing to keep in mind is it’s best to approach your manager when your company is in the planning stages of creating its budgets. Otherwise, salary budgets might already be in place. Next, arrange a meeting with your boss. If your boss holds regular one-on-ones with you, touch upon the topic in that meeting once you’re both done discussing the day-to-day matters at hand.

Finally, here's a sample script of what to say to your boss when you do ask for a raise:

Jane, there's something I've been meaning to ask you. I've really loved working here for the last year. I’ve worn many hats, and I’ve constantly overachieved my targets and went above and beyond whenever I could. That's why I'd like to ask you for a review of my current salary.

Just as a quick reminder, in the past six months, I single-handedly created a content strategy that got over 25,000 new users. I also on-boarded and trained six new freelance writers, which allowed us to triple conversions from our site over three months. And I increased lead generation by an average of 23 percent, organic traffic by 31 percent, and SERP rank by 14 percent.

So, considering this, I think that a 15 percent salary increase would be fair given my track record and performance.

What do you think?

Hopefully you get the response you're looking for. But if not, that's okay; you have several options of ways to proceed, depending on the response you get. If it happens that your boss agrees you deserve a raise but says the company can't afford it, consider asking for consolation perks. Those include flexible time, remote days, or extra vacation days.

If you get a flat out “no,” ask your boss if you’re overvaluing yourself and, if that’s the case, what steps you can take to get the raise you’re after.

Lastly, no matter what response you get, if you don’t get the raise you asked for, ask your boss if the conversation can be rolling and you can check back in three to six months to see if the situation has changed.

Max Woolf is a career expert at Zety. He’s passionate about helping people land their dream jobs through the expert career industry coverage. In his spare time, Max enjoys biking and traveling to European countries. You can hit him up on LinkedIn.