How to Ask for a Raise

Posted by Don on June 14, 2016

It’s no secret that incomes have not been rising the past few years. While the prices of the goods we buy continue to rise, our paychecks stay the same, resulting in our monthly budget getting tighter and tighter each year. How do you overcome this? You need to earn more money. One way to do this is to ask for a raise.

Unfortunately, most people don’t ask for a raise or they go about asking for a raise in the wrong way. Below, I walk you through some steps to improve your odds of getting a raise when you ask for it.

ask for a raise

(Photo Credit: Becris/

How to Ask for a Raise in 5 Steps

  1. Document Achievements Beyond Responsibilities.
    The first step in asking for a raise doesn’t even involve talking things over with your boss. If you were to have a meeting, chances are it would be a waste of time. This is because many people would just go into the meeting asking for a raise without any data.

    Your first step is to compile this data. Look over your job responsibilities and then look back over your accomplishments throughout the year. Wherever you have exceeded expectations or have gone above and beyond your responsibilities, be sure to write it down.

    You don’t need a set amount of accomplishments for the year. Just be honest and write everything down that shows what you achieved in addition to your stated responsibilities. One final note on this, try really hard to show how these achievements made an impact. In other words, don’t just list what you did, but talk about how the company or your boss or department benefited from these accomplishments.

    For example, don’t just say you “created macros for the TPS spreadsheet”. Instead say, “created macros for the TPS spreadsheet resulting in an increase of productivity by 20%”. You may need to ask around to see how much time or money was saved by implementing a project but having numbers back up your accomplishment will go a long way.

    Once you have your list competed, you can move onto the next step.

  2. Think Outside the Box to Create Goals.
    Now it is time to start thinking. If your list is short, what are some things you can do to increase the number of items on your list? If your list is long, what else can you do? One good place to start is to look at any projects or goals that have been sitting around for a while – things that no one ever has time for. Tackling these might not be the most fun, but they show initiative on your end if you are willing to do them.

    You could also ask around and see what projects other colleagues need help with if you are struggling to come up with ideas. Use these ideas to create goals.

  3. Ask for a Meeting.
    Once you have your list of accomplishments and a list of goals for you to reach, you want to schedule the meeting with your boss. Ideally, this meeting should come well before your annual review so that you have time to get more things done and also so your boss has a greater chance of going to bat for you and getting you a raise.

    Many times, employees ask for a raise at year end after the budget has been approved for the new year. This is a mistake because most managers’ hands are tied. You are better off talking months before your review so that they can better estimate a budget.

    When you do sit down, be honest with your boss. Explain what amount of raise you are looking for and highlight your current accomplishments and what else you plan to do. Then ask for their feedback.

    The goal here is to make sure you are both on the same page. You don’t want to think that your accomplishments are great and your boss sees them as part of your job. Likewise you don’t want to think your new goals are awesome and your boss would rather you spend time on something else.

    Get on the same page with everything and agree to discuss more about the raise at your review. This will help you to avoid surprises and/or disappointments at your annual review. However, they could still happen.

  4. Get to Work.
    This step is an obvious one. You have to back up what you wrote down by achieving some things. Do whatever you need to do in order to get the job done. This includes coming in early and staying late now and then.

    One word of caution, however. Don’t make it a habit of working long nights and weekends. If you put forth the impression that you are willing to do this, going forward your boss might expect this sort of commitment from you. Work hard and smart to get things done, but don’t go overboard and set a new precedent for yourself that you don’t want to keep long term.

  5. Have Your Review.
    When it comes time for your official review, be sure to go in with an updated list of your accomplishments (and don’t forget the numbers!). Also be sure to have an open mind. This is because there is the chance that your boss may still not give you the raise you desire (or in some cases earned).

    If you do get your raise, congratulations! But make sure you keep working hard. Don’t become lazy or let your productivity drop off. If you do, you will have a hard time getting a raise in the future because your boss will know you will only work hard to get the raise and then slack off.

    If you don’t get the raise, don’t lose hope. Find out why. Maybe it was a bad year and your company cannot afford it. If you find, however, they simply don’t value you, it may be time to look elsewhere for employment. If you go this route, be sure to update your resume with everything you recently accomplished.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, there is a process to ask for a raise. Don’t just assume you will get a raise simply because you show up and are a hard worker. You need to stand out and become invaluable if you want to get a decent sized raise. By following the steps outlined above, you will increase your odds of getting the raise you want, assuming you put forth the effort.

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Comments to How to Ask for a Raise

  1. I feel like it’s way harder for women to get up the courage to ask for a raise. My GF works so hard but feels like its mean to ask. Incredible that so many of her friends feel this way too. We have to advocate for women standing up for themselves in the workplace or else the pay gap will continue

    Millennial Moola

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