How to Ask for a Pay Rise

Learn recruiter-backed strategies for asking for a pay raise in 2024. Learn how to prepare for the conversation and confidently approach your boss. Get expert tips on crafting a persuasive request and handling objections to successfully negotiate a salary increase.

6 months ago   •   10 min read

By Rohan Mahtani
Table of contents

Asking for a pay rise or raise can be... well, downright scary. It’s never easy to face rejection, and the stakes can feel high. After all, as inflation sends the cost of living sky-high, most of us need to make more money just to get by.

But, you don’t have to do this alone. With some research, thought, and the right guidance, you can have a great conversation with your boss gives you the best chance at getting the raise you want.

The key to a successful pay rise request lies in preparation, thorough research, a professional approach, and an ability to address potential challenges head-on.

We can’t guarantee that you’ll get the raise of your dreams... But we’ll do what we can in this article to help you ask for it successfully.

In this article, we'll guide you through preparing your case, conducting salary research, crafting persuasive requests, and choosing the right time to make your move. We'll also cover how to communicate confidently, address financial concerns, handle objections, showcase your value, and brace yourself for any outcome.

Let’s start with how to prepare for the “I need a raise” conversation.

Key advice from a recruiter on how to ask for a pay raise
Key advice from a recruiter on how to ask for a pay raise

How to prepare to ask for a pay raise

You can’t just waltz into a job negotiation and ask for a raise without doing some prep. You’ll need to do your homework to figure out what you want to make... and what you can reasonably expect to get in your current role. You’ll also want to explore other options- after all, switching jobs can sometimes be a great way to get a salary boost.

So let’s get preparing! It’s going to make the conversation with your boss much better. (And, hopefully help you get the raise you’re looking for!)

Review your performance

If you have a track record of reliability and high-quality work, great! That probably means you’re in a good spot to ask for a raise— just make sure your performance in flawless in the month leading up to the conversation. “Recency bias” is a real thing, which means that your boss is going to remember your last month of performance most vividly.

This may sound unfair, but it can actually work in your favor— you get to pick the perfect time to ask for a raise, based on your performance: Have a big project you just completed ahead of schedule? Great time to ask for a raise. Did you just save the company a lot of money by implementing new practices and procedures? Again, great time to ask for a raise.

Plus, if your performance and/or attendance hasn’t been raise-worthy in the past, there’s no time like the present to step it up.

Evaluate your experience and skills

Make sure you also take some time to reflect on your professional journey, considering your experience, skills, and additional responsibilities you’ve taken on in your current role. Knowing this will help you more quickly spot what people with similar qualifications can make in your role.

Another angle to consider: significant growth in your role since the last salary review. If you’ve been handed more work and responsibility without an increase in pay, you’ll be able to make a stronger case for a raise.

Research the market and salary rates

This is super important: you need to know what you could make if you worked somewhere else.

Knowing if you’re paid below, at, or above the market average is crucial when you’re asking for a raise. Unfortunately, you can’t just pull a number out of thin air and expect your employer to give it to you— you’re going to have to show you’ve done your research and your request is reasonable.

There are plenty of credible sources for salary data like Glassdoor, Payscale, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can also talk to other people in your industry to get a good feel for what they made when they had similar skills and experience to you.

Once you have that information, you can compare it to your current salary for your role and location.

Side note: know your company’s financial health

Before you ask for a raise, it's helpful to have a sense of the company's current financial status. If the company is struggling financially, it may be hard to get a yes even if you’re the best employee they have.

Consider possible alternatives

Before you head into salary negotiations, have a backup plan in case they can’t give you an outright raise. This might involve asking for non-monetary benefits like additional vacation days, flexible working hours, or professional development opportunities.

Update your LinkedIn profile

We know that you’re trying to ask for a raise, not get a whole new job. But knowing you have other options will make you less desperate heading into negotiation.

Updating your LinkedIn profile can also help you take a much-needed inventory of the contributions you’ve made at your current job. Examples of what you might want to include:

  • Major successes
  • Projects completed
  • Positive feedback received

Make sure to use numbers whenever you can to describe this stuff, such as, “Spearheaded an email marketing initiative that increased sales by 5%.” Having all of this information organized and one place will help you make a clearer case when you craft your pitch to ask for your raise.

If recruiters aren’t already knocking on your virtual LinkedIn door, use our LinkedIn Review. You’ll get instant, tailored feedback on how to rank higher and be seen on LinkedIn.

Be ready for a long-term career discussion

Sometimes, a raise request can open a conversation about your career path within the company. This is actually a good thing, because it gives you the opportunity to frame your raise as an investment in you future contributions, not just extra payment for past jobs well done. So, you’ll want to be prepared to discuss your long-term goals within the organization. If you don’t know what these are, try asking your mentor or boss about ways to advance in the company.

Check the law

Get familiar with legal issues or company policy factors that might keep you from getting a pay rise, such as equal pay legislation or standardized pay scales. If these are in place, getting a raise may take more time or be more complicated.

When to ask for a raise

When asking for a pay raise, some times are more ideal than others. Here are the best ones:

After you’ve given your boss a heads up

Make sure you’ve dropped a hint or two about the fact that you’ll be asking for a raise. If your boss is blindsided by your request, they’re going to have less time to think about what they can give you or get a budget increase.

To give them a heads up in the time leading up to the conversation, you could ask things like, “How do promotions work here?” or “What can I do to take on higher level work?”

After an achievement

The best moment to ask for a raise is after an accomplishment. Have you recently completed a challenging project ahead of schedule? Surpassed your sales targets? Received glowing feedback from clients or colleagues? These milestones demonstrate your value to the company and help you make a stronger case.

During performance reviews/company salary reviews

Many companies conduct performance reviews. These are great times to discuss salary adjustments. During these reviews, your contributions are already under the spotlight, so it’s easier to bring up compensation.

Similarly, some companies have annual or bi-annual times that they set aside for salary reviews. If your company has these, asking around that time can give you a leg up when it’s time for your review.

After a role change

If you've recently taken on additional responsibilities or your role has evolved significantly, that’s a great reason to discuss a salary adjustment. After all, if you’re making entry-level money but doing mid-level work, you should be rewarded!

When budgets are flexible

If you time your request before the next fiscal year starts or before budgets are set, it might be easier for your boss to get the funds approved— so, keep this in mind as you consider when to ask the question!

How to ask for a raise

When you're gearing up to ask for a raise, it's crucial to go in with a plan. Here's an outline to get you started:

Express gratitude

Start by telling your boss how grateful you are to work at the company. This isn't just about courtesy; it sets a positive and respectful tone for the conversation. It helps both you and your boss start the conversation on a high note.

Highlight your achievements

Okay, time for the first hurdle: talking about your accomplishments.

If you hate talking about yourself or feel like it’s bragging, remember that you won’t be talking about your achievements in vague terms. Instead, provide specific examples and data to back up what you’re talking about. Did you boost sales, streamline processes, or lead successful projects? These are your selling points, and make sure you have the data to back them up.

Using data will help you feel less like you’re boasting— after all, you’re basically just giving a data report. It will also give your boss lots of information they can use if they have to make a case for getting more funds.

Basically, if you contributed to the bottom line in some way, you’re going to have more room to maneuver. Concrete examples speak louder than general claims.

Ask for the raise

Once you’ve highlighted your accomplishments, it’s time to ask for that pay rise.

You can make a slight pivot by saying something like, “I’ve really enjoyed working on X projects and I’m proud that it’s helped contribute X% to the bottom line, so I thought that now would be a good time to ask for a raise.”

Then, whether it’s a percentage increase or a specific dollar amount, state your desired amount clearly. Feel free to show that you've done your homework and you feel this is a fair amount for both you and the company.

To start, you can also provide a range that would be acceptable, based on the information that you’ve gathered. This gives your boss a little more room to negotiate— just make sure that you don’t set the bottom of the range lower than you’d like.

One thing to remember as you’re choosing how to word your ask: if you really want to get a pay raise, ambiguity is your enemy. Be clear about what you want and why you feel it’s fair, so that your boss can give you a clear answer about whether or not that’s something they can do.

Discuss the future

Finally, as part of the conversation, talk about your future plans and how you intend to continue contributing to the company's success. When you speak about the future, you’re reminding your employer that this isn't just about what you've done for them already; it's about what you will do in the days and years to follow. In other words, you're making a case for why they should invest in your future contributions.

Top tips for navigating the pay raise conversation

Once you start the pay raise conversation, it’s easy to get nervous or intimidated. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be able to keep your composure and advocate for yourself:

Prepare and rehearse

Before your meeting, practice. Rehearse the key points of your pitch, focusing on your achievements and the value you add to the team and company. Anticipate potential questions or objections and prepare your responses.

Stay professional

Maintain a professional demeanor throughout the conversation. Keeping your emotions in check and responding calmly to feedback or a refusal can help you avoid a lot of the potential negatives that come with asking for a raise. Knowing how to professionally ask for a raise at work really comes down to the planning and preparation we’ve already discussed in this article... So make sure you’ve done your homework!

Stay positive

Having a positive attitude can help you foster better communication and rapport with your boss, which means you can collaborate during the negotiation to come up with a solution that works for both of you. This will make it more likely that you get the raise you want.

Listen actively

Actively listen to your boss's feedback during the entire process. If you get a raise, it’s going to be because you and your boss worked together to reach an agreement. And, if a raise isn’t in the cards right now, their perspective can help you understand how to improve so that it can be a “yes” next time.

Let there be silence

After presenting your case, allow your boss time to reflect and respond, without feeling rushed or pressured. This can feel unnatural— most of the time, we talk to fill awkward silences. But if you wait and let your boss think, you’re going to have a better discussion.

Document the conversation

After the meeting, send a follow-up email to your boss summarizing the key points you discussed. This creates a record of your conversation and demonstrates your professionalism and attention to detail. If there are any points that your boss or you need to follow up on, you can include those as well.

How to handle objections or pushback

When you're preparing to ask for a pay raise, it's important to anticipate and be ready to address objections. It’ll help you stay professional and increase your chances of getting the raise. Here’s how you can navigate potential pushback:

Budget constraints

If your boss brings up budget limitations, let them know you hear them, but don't let that end the conversation.

the unique value you bring to the company and suggest alternative compensation options, such as phased salary increases, performance-based bonuses, or other possible alternatives. This shows you understand the company's financial situation but allows you to still advocate for yourself.

Performance concerns

Arm yourself with concrete examples and data illustrating your contributions and achievements.

Did you exceed sales targets, successfully complete major projects, or implement efficiency-improving processes? These specific instances demonstrate your exceptional performance and justify your request for a raise. (Remember recency bias, and keep these examples as new as possible!)

Tenure issues

In some cases, your boss might feel you haven’t been in your position long enough to warrant a raise. Counter this by focusing on the quality and impact of your work, rather than how long you’ve been there. Highlight any significant contributions you’ve made in a short time, showcasing your rapid acclimation and the value you’ve added to the team and company.

Spread the word

Keep reading