How to Ask For a Raise

If you are like most working stiffs, the way you make money is to trade your time and effort to your employer for a paycheck. And if you can’t keep up with your bills then you need to make more money. Unfortunately, since you can’t get more time than anyone else the next best thing is to get more paycheck.

You can take on a second job or hustle to make a little extra on the side, but a boost in your regular pay will make the biggest difference. But very few employers are in the habit of handing out extra cash for no good reason, so if you want it, you have to ask for it.

Most people get nervous at the prospect of asking their boss for a raise. But if you do your homework, it should be a win-win for both of you.

First off, Know Your Worth

This means knowing if you deserve a raise. If you are being fairly compensated, then asking for a raise is asking the company to overpay you. You probably won’t be successful and in any case you do not want to be an overpaid employee. You should probably look for another opportunity where your skills can make a bigger impact.

Knowing what is fair is a tricky subject. This is based on your education, accomplishments, responsibilities, peer pay and hours worked, among other factors.

You need to keep notes on what your justifications are so that you sound sincere and credible.

If you can, get an idea of what others in the organization with the same job responsibilities are earning. This may take some detective work since it’s not typically public information. The same goes for workers at other companies similar to yours.

Websites like and Glassdoor provide good information on what your job should likely pay.

Know Who Can Make the Call

You wouldn’t ask your company’s janitor for a raise (unless you work for a company with a very peculiar org chart) because she doesn’t have the power to grant one. Your immediate supervisor may not, either. There are other pitfalls with going directly up the chain of command.

However, the person who you report to should be the best judge of your contributions, so that’s where you should start. Unless any of the following apply:

  • you know that this person does not having the authority to make that decision
  • you feel that this person does not have a handle on your impact to the company
  • you feel that this person will not move your request up the chain of command or
  • you feel that this person may willfully sabotage your request
Depending on how your company operates, check in with your human resources department to see if they can provide any guidance in this matter. But know full well that this will likely get back to your boss.

If you need to go over your boss’ head, you can potentially avoid any ruffled feathers by making her aware of your intention beforehand, and letting her know why this is in everyone’s best interests.

Be Ready to Walk

Asking for a raise is a negotiation. And with any negotiation, you need to have something to give and something to take. In this situation, that is your continued employment with the company.

If you’ve done your homework and you know you are being underpaid, be prepared to look for a new job that will compensate you fairly. Have your resume up to date, keep contacts in your network fresh and have an emergency fund to help you get by.

Get your confidence and get your money.

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