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How Do You Ask for a Pay Raise? 7 Proven Steps and Expert Advice

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

Emma had been working as a marketing coordinator at a prestigious advertising agency for three years. She was passionate about her job, loved her team, and was dedicated to creating outstanding campaigns that brought results for her clients. However, there was one thing Emma had been putting off for far too long – asking for a pay raise.


Woman looking at the ocean with arms spread out
Photo by Nathan McBride

Every morning, Emma would sip her coffee and gaze at herself in the mirror, repeating a mantra she'd devised: "I am worth it, and it's time they recognize it." She knew she deserved a pay raise. Her responsibilities had grown significantly since she started, and her performance had consistently exceeded expectations. Yet, the idea of asking for more money made her palms sweaty and her heart race.


One sunny afternoon, Emma's best friend Sarah invited her to lunch. As they nibbled on their salads, Sarah noticed the unease in Emma's eyes. "What's bothering you, Em?" Sarah asked gently.


Emma sighed, putting down her fork. "I've been thinking about asking for a pay raise, but I'm terrified. What if they say no, or worse, what if they think I'm being too demanding?"

Sarah smiled, understanding her friend's dilemma. "You know, I had the same fear when I asked for a raise last year. But it's essential to remember that your worth is not determined by their response. You deserve it, Em, and if you don't ask, you'll never know."

Emma nodded, her confidence bolstered by Sarah's words. She decided it was time to take action. She spent the next few days preparing herself, researching industry salary benchmarks, and rehearsing her talking points.


The day of the meeting arrived. Emma walked into her boss's office with a mix of nerves...


Asking for a pay raise can be extremely anxiety causing. What if I ruin my relationship with my manager. What if they think I am ungrateful. What if...there are countless what ifs that go through our minds at any given time. Follow these 7 steps to answer the question "How Do You Ask for a Pay Raise."


Step 1: How Do You Ask for a Pay Raise? Know Your Worth


Before initiating the conversation about a pay raise, it's important to evaluate your own contributions and achievements within the company.


Consider Mary, a dedicated software engineer. Over the past year, she led a successful project that increased efficiency by 30%. She also took on additional responsibilities, such as mentoring new team members. These are things she should write down in her list of accomplishments.


Step 2: How Do You Ask for a Pay Raise? Choose the Right Moment


Timing plays a significant role in the success of your pay raise request. One of the best times to bring up the topic is during your performance review or annual evaluation. But double check how the company is performing to its metrics. If all is sound, then you have the green light to proceed.


Remember never surprise your manager. Make sure and give your manager adequate time to respond to your request.


Step 3: How Do You Ask for a Pay Raise? Prepare Your Pitch - Build a Strong Case


To convince your employer that you deserve a pay raise, you need to craft a compelling pitch. This pitch can be a portfolio of sorts highlighting your best work and how it aligns with the company's objectives.


Sarah, a graphic designer, prepared a portfolio showcasing her recent design projects, emphasizing how they positively impacted the company's branding. If you are in sales, you can create a portfolio of customer wins and sales growth. Here is an example to jump start your pitch writing.


"I've enjoyed being part of the company and am enthusiastic about our mission and goals.

Over the past [X] years, I've had the privilege of working on various projects and contributing to the team's success. During this time, I've honed my skills in [mention your skills, e.g., project management, marketing strategy, or coding], and I've consistently strived to go above and beyond my job description."


Step 4: How Do You Ask for a Pay Raise? Practice Your Delivery - Confidence Matters


Confidence is key when you're asking for a pay raise. Practice your pitch to ensure you convey your message with conviction. Make your pitch in terms of how your talents and skills can continue to drive results for the company. Here is an example to inspire your creative process -


"I'm requesting X% raise because I see myself continuing to drive results for our organization. My skills in [mention skills] have enabled us to [mention past achievements, e.g., deliver exceptional campaigns, meet challenging deadlines, or increase efficiency]."


Step 5: How Do You Ask for a Pay Raise? Schedule a Meeting - Set the Stage


Request a meeting to discuss your pay raise, ensuring the right environment for a constructive conversation. Surprising your manager with a sudden request for a pay raise during a casual conversation can catch them off guard and may not result in the best outcome. By scheduling a formal meeting in advance, you give your manager time to prepare, review your performance, and consider your request thoroughly.


Step 6: How Do You Ask for a Pay Raise? Articulate Your Value


During the meeting, confidently present your case for a pay raise. Here is an example,


"Over the past year, I led the [Project Name] project, which resulted in a [mention specific outcome, e.g., 15% increase in revenue]. During the delivery of this project, I showed skills in strategic planning, leadership, and problem-solving. The early delivery of the project significantly contributed to our bottom line.


Additionally, I've consistently met exceeded my performance targets. [Mention specific targets or goals you've achieved, e.g., exceeding sales quotas by 20% or consistently meeting project deadlines ahead of schedule].


I firmly believe that an adjustment in my compensation would be a fair recognition of my accomplishments."


Step 7: How Do You Ask for a Pay Raise? Be Prepared with Counters


Anticipate different responses and handle them professionally and gracefully. It's essential to be flexible and open to alternatives that can still contribute to your overall job satisfaction and financial well-being.


When Susan, a marketing specialist, asked for a 15% pay raise, her manager offered a 10% increase instead. Susan acknowledged the offer and asked if there could be a performance bonus tied to achieving specific targets within the year. This way, she found a way that still increased her overall income and allowed her the opportunity to earn more depending on her performance.


If your employer is hesitant to increase your salary, inquire about other benefits or perks that can enhance your overall compensation package.


Get this ultimate guide to get ideas on how people negotiate other perks to get to their desired outcome.



Back to Emma's story.


Emma confidently outlined her achievements, the increased responsibilities she'd taken on, and her commitment to the company's success. She referenced the industry standards and mentioned that she had consistently delivered results beyond her job description.


To her surprise, her boss listened attentively and nodded. "Emma, you've been an invaluable member of our team, and your contributions have not gone unnoticed. We appreciate your dedication, and I believe it's time to reward it."


Emma's heart leaped with joy as her boss continued, "We will review your compensation package, and you can expect a raise effective from the next quarter."


Emma couldn't believe her ears. She had expected a more prolonged negotiation, but her preparation and confidence had paid off!


Several months later, Emma found herself seated at her desk, her thoughts drifting back to that pivotal pay raise discussion.. The pay raise had not only increased her financial stability but also boosted her self-esteem. Emma had emerged from that negotiation not just with a bigger paycheck but with newfound confidence and self-assurance.


When you are ready to bravely fight for the pay raise you deserve, get this proven script (it's free!). Using the wrong approach to ask for a pay raise can backfire. But don't worry - use this exact script to highlight your value and secure the compensation you deserve.

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