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How to Ask for a Raise at Work

How to Ask for a RaiseThe time to ask for a raise isn’t at the end of the year. In fact, the end of the year, when compensation decisions have likely already been made and you’re competing with everyone else in your organization for a finite pool of money, is the worst time to ask for a raise. The time to ask for a raise is at the beginning of the year, and it could sound like this:

How to ask for a raise:

“Next year I’d like to take on more responsibility and be earning _____. What would it take to get me there?  I’ve written a few goals. Can we review the goals together and talk about if this is the right course of action to help me get to the next level?”

Set yourself and your boss up for success in giving you a raise. Significant pay increases need to be justified and approved by others in the organization. And results justify raises.

A few steps to take to get the pay increase you want:

  1. At the beginning of the year, you and your boss should agree upon goals that are important to the organization.
  2. Agree that at the end of the year, goal achievement will position you for more responsibility and more money.

No manager will promise a raise a year out, but ensure your career path is a conversation that will be had.

Given that you may want to ask for a raise now, here are some techniques for asking for more money in the middle of the year:

  1. Schedule time to talk with your boss, so you’re sure to have her undivided attention.
  2. Bring a list of accomplishments from the past months or years. Be sure to document those accomplishments in whatever format and level of detail your organization’s decision makers’ like to get information. You’ll know that by watching how the leaders communicate.
  3. Give your boss a copy of the list.
  4. Be bold. Use words like, “I’d like to talk with you about my career. It’s been _____ months/years since I’ve had a raise. I’ve generated __________ results.  Can we discuss what it would take to get me to the next level?”
  5. Don’t say, “This is awkward and I’m uncomfortable asking, but I’d like to talk about my compensation.” That’s not a powerful way to ask for anything.

The worst you will get is a no. You won’t get fired or ‘in trouble’ for asking. And if you get a no, ask, “What do I need to do to position myself for a significant pay increase in the next year?”

When asking for money, time, or resources, it’s easier to say no than it is to say yes. So give your manager something that’s easy to say yes to.

When asking for a raise, say:

  • “I’d like to position myself for more responsibility and more money.
  • What do I need to do to do that?
  • What’s a reasonable time frame to make that happen?
  • Whose support do I need in addition to yours?
  • What can I do to ensure the leaders who will also impact the decision are knowledgeable about my contributions?”

You will not get what you don’t ask for. So be bold, but also be deliberate, planful, and smart about how you ask.

How to Ask for a Raise


Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at

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One Response to “How to Ask for a Raise at Work”

  1. Deborah says:

    You are spot on with this, Shari. Having been on the OD side of this for years, I can honestly say that most employees wait until their performance review to discuss it and then there is very little a manager can do. They also rarely come with a plan….they just want money. Very easy to say no.

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