Asking for a Raise: What You Need to Know

Asking for a Raise: What You Need to Know

For some, asking for a raise is about as pleasant as getting a cavity filled. Others just avoid the topic completely. In fact, a PayScale survey found that 57 percent of people polled have never approached their boss for a raise. The survey also found that people who ask for raises tend to earn more. Luckily, asking for a raise doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating. Once you learn how to present yourself, how to mention the topic to your manager, and how to negotiate, you’ll approach the process much more positively. Here’s what you should know:

Present Yourself Well

There’s an old business adage that says you should always dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. Even if your coworkers dress casually, it doesn’t hurt to kick it up a notch and dress a bit more professional. This is especially true on the day you plan to sit down with your manager to ask for a raise. Women should wear closed-toed pumps or flats, and be sure to cover up with a sweater, jacket, or blouse. Try to opt for neutral colors, such as black, gray, navy, or taupe, and consider adding a pop of color to your ensemble, such as a red scarf or piece of jewelry. Men should wear a suit or a sport coat, slacks, and an ironed dress shirt—depending on the work environment. Top off the outfit with a tie, and make sure everything fits well. By dressing up, you’ll not only look good and be taken more seriously, but you’ll have more confidence when you approach your manager.

Work outfit

Dress as professional as possible on the day you plan to meet with your manager.

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Bring Up the Topic Professionally

Schedule a meeting with your boss a few days in advance instead of just popping into their office to chat. At the meeting, let your manager know how hard you and your department have been working. If you happen to know that the company has been on an upswing, be sure to mention that you realize business has been improving. These conversation points will set the stage for you to confidently ask for a raise.


Set up time to meet with your manager, and come prepared with talking points.

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Use These Negotiation Tips

  • Have a Goal: You can’t negotiate a raise properly unless you have a number in mind. There are various ways to arrive at that number. For one, you can research online to see what other people with similar jobs at competing companies are making. People in your own office probably don’t go around discussing how much money they make, but if they do, you can use these numbers for comparison as well.
  • Sell Yourself: If your job can be measured in metrics, remind your manager of how many clients you’ve recently landed, or how many sales you’ve made. If not, show your boss the other ways you’ve excelled in your position, such as taking the initiative to improve your job, being a team player, or leaning a new skill through training or certification.
  • Pick the Right Time: Enter this salary negotiation when you are the most confident and happy—not when you’re desperate for money or unhappy with your job. Moping around and stewing over not being given a raise without asking, and then asking for one with a negative attitude, probably won’t work out in your favor. Plus, if you’re dissatisfied with your job, you might reveal your frustration through body language when you meet with your manager. If you have a good mind-set, you’ll have an easier time being logical and upbeat.
  • Communicate Well Nonverbally: When meeting with your manager, be sure to make eye contact, maintain good posture, and give them a firm handshake at the end. These small details can go a long way in terms of displaying your level of professionalism.

Now that you know how to ask for a raise, you should feel more confident about doing so. Use these tips, go into your meeting prepared, and hopefully you’ll end up being able to celebrate a well-deserved raise.

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