How To Ask For A Raise (And Actually Get One!)

By Mike Simpson

“I’m not getting paid enough to do this job!”

Sound familiar?

Of course it does, we’ve all said it…and yet, how many of us sit at our desks day after day, grumbling about pay, but don’t actually do anything about it?

Well, no more!

Today we’re going to teach you how to ask for a raise!

In a perfect world, you’d never have to actually ask for a raise at work. Ideally you’d be in a job where your manager knows automatically when it’s time to grant employee raises.

But what if you’re in a position where your pay isn’t automatically increased, or where you feel you’re regularly going above and beyond in your position and would like your pay to reflect that?

In these instances, it’s up to you to determine if asking for a raise is the right course of action.

Very few people actually like asking for a raise. It’s a tough conversation and, if not approached correctly, can end disastrously…which is why you need to do some serious prep work before you begin asking for more moolah.

Getting your boss to say yes isn’t going to be easy, which is why it’s up to you to make saying no even harder, and that means making sure you’re fully prepared to offer reasonable, well thought out, researched information to back up your request.

How To Ask For a Raise Pre-Planning

Before you even consider asking your boss for a raise, we’ve compiled a short pre-raise questionnaire you should go over.

1. Do You Deserve A Raise?

Let’s start with some honest self-assessment.

Do you deserve a raise?

While you might immediately jump to a “Heck yes, I’m amazing! Of course I deserve a raise!” response, take a minute and look at the whole picture…from your managers standpoint.

Pretend you are your supervisor.

  • Would you be happy with the work you are doing?
  • Are you the only employee doing your job or are there others around you doing the same thing?
  • How are they performing and how do you perform in comparison?
  • Are you bringing more to the table now than you did when you were initially hired?
  • Have you learned new skills or completed additional training that makes you more valuable as an employee?

2. Did You Do Your Research Before You Asked?

Being deserving of a raise is one thing, asking for something outrageous is another.

Before you go into any conversations about raises or promotions, make sure you know ahead of time exactly what you’re asking for and have a solid, well thought out dollar amount in your head. Don’t just make up a number; you’ll run the risk of asking for too much/too little.

It will benefit you in the long run if you take the time to get seriously educated about your position and how much others make doing the same work.

Start by looking at the market that you are in. Is what you’re being paid equivalent to what the market is currently paying?

You can always go online to websites like and see what others in your field are being paid and how you stack up on average.

3. Can Your Employer Afford To Give You A Raise?

Start by first looking at the market and where your company fits into the big picture.

Next, look at your company overall. Is it in a position to be able to support paying you more?

Is it a brand new start-up just getting off the ground or is it a well-established corporation?

Has it grown since you started working there, resulting in increased responsibility and work for you? Is it a good year? Are profits up?

You don’t want to ask for a raise if a company is financially struggling and looking for opportunities to cut costs.

If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to all three of these pre-raise questions, then you need to hold off on asking for that raise until you can.

Answering ‘yes’ to all three questions will make building a case for your raise stronger and make it harder for a manager to say no.

When Should You Ask For A Raise?

Now that we’ve determined that you deserve a raise and you know exactly what you’re worth and that your company can afford it, we need to figure out when to ask for that raise.

Just like everything else in life, timing is everything. You want to make sure you’re asking at just the right moment.

The last thing you want to do is to come across as pushy or entitled, but then again, you also don’t want to wait forever.

So when is it the right time to ask?

Your boss is in a great mood.

This one is a no brainer. You’re far more likely to get a yes out of a happy boss than you will out of an angry or frustrated boss. Read the mood of the room before you ask.

You got an offer from another employer for a higher salary.

You’re a valuable employee and your work is specialized. As a result, other companies have reached out to you and offered you a higher salary.

But maybe you’re happy where you are and don’t want to leave?

This is an opportunity to talk to your boss and let them know what’s up. Having an honest conversation about your worth and your place in the market might be all they need to realize that you deserve a raise in order to keep you.

Losing you to a competitor can be powerful incentive to give you a bump in pay.

However, this works only if you actually do have offers from other employers. Going to your boss with a fictitious offer from a company for a non-existent job in order to leverage higher pay can easily result in them calling your bluff, which could quickly devolve into you not only not getting a raise, but potentially finding yourself without a job at all!

Everyone else is getting a raise.

This scenario requires another trip back to the pre-raise questionnaire and a serious long hard look at question number 1: do you deserve the raise?

If everyone else around you is getting a raise and you’re not, you need to figure out why.

If it’s a simple oversight, a quick conversation with your boss should be able to fix it. If it’s because of performance issues or expectations your employer has that aren’t being met by you, a conversation is still in order so you can correct what you’re missing in preparation for the next round of pay increases.

It’s the right time of day.

While this might not seem like a major factor, asking at the right time of day is actually a huge part of getting a yes.

Try to make sure you’re avoiding any meetings with your boss just before lunch or too close to the end of the day. The last thing you want is to have a conversation with someone who is desperate for you to finish up so they can get out and either grab food or go home.

What Not To Say When Asking For A Raise

As we’ve already said, asking for a raise is tough and being prepared is the best possible way to get a yes.

So what can you say that will almost 100% guarantee a no?

Avoid any of these following what not to say moments:

I’m doing enough work for five employees.

If this is true, we’re sorry, that is a lot of work…but before you say something along these lines, take a good look at why you’re doing all that work.

If you’re picking up extra responsibilities because the company is cutting back and saving money by letting employees go, asking for a raise might not be the best idea. Looking for another job might be a safer bet.

I’ve been here for a whole year (or longer).

Being at your job for a year (or longer) isn’t always an automatic guarantee of a raise.

While it’s entirely appropriate to point out how long it’s been since your last raise (if ever), your time in your position shouldn’t be your sole argument for an increase in pay.

Having solid examples of your contributions, accomplishments and skills as well as your increased value to the company during this time period is going to get you much further than simply pointing out how long you’ve been working for them.

I need the money.

Life happens, we get it, but it’s not your employer’s responsibility to increase your pay in order to match your lifestyle requirements. Remember, you’re an employee of the company which means your pay should directly reflect your value to the company.

You’re never going to be paid based on your financial need. The only exception to this rule is asking for additional responsibilities and work in order to earn more money, which turns the conversation from raises to promotions (which we’ll discuss in a minute).

If I don’t get a raise, I’m leaving.

All we’re going to say on this one is, if you decide to actually use this strategy, be prepared to have them call your bluff. We suggest having your desk cleaned out and your stuff packed before you walk into your boss’ office…just in case.

Not saying anything at all.

If you can answer yes to all the questions in the pre-raise questionnaire, then you are fully within your rights to ask for that raise. Not asking at all is only going to hurt you.

What To Do If You Are Denied

You’ve done your research, determined your worth, chosen your time to talk to your boss carefully, and presented your case with hard facts and solid examples…

…but your boss still said no.

It’s frustrating, humiliating, and demoralizing…we get it. We really do. But what you have to do is make sure that you take that ‘no’ like the true professional you are. That means leaving your emotions at the door before you even walk in for that conversation.

It’s not easy, and certainly not what you want to hear, but it does happen…and the reasons you’re hearing ‘no’ might have absolutely nothing to do with you at all.

Instead of letting your emotions take over and storming out of the office angry and hurt, use the ‘no’ as an opportunity to discuss with your boss your performance and your place within the company overall and what your future holds.

Look at it not as a ‘no, never,’ but instead as a ‘no, not right now’ and find out what it will take to get that no turned into a yes.

It’s also perfectly acceptable to ask when a good time to discuss a raise would be.

Promotions vs. Raises

Before we go any further, let’s quickly touch on what a promotion is in relation to a raise as often times they get confused.

A raise is simply an increase in your pay without a change in your job duties or requirements. A promotion, which often includes a raise, is a change in job title and/or job responsibilities.

When asking for a raise, you’re asking to be paid more money for the same amount of work you are already doing.

When you ask for a promotion, you’re asking to change your job title and assume the responsibilities and duties that come with that new title.

How To Ask For A Promotion

Asking for a promotion takes almost all the exact same prep-work as asking for a raise, with just a few small changes. As with a raise, you need to make sure you do your homework ahead of time.

Start by first identifying the specific position you’re interested in and really examining why you’re interested in taking that job on.

Make sure that you not only know exactly what the position entails, but that you have the skills and qualifications to do the job.

Next, outline everything you’ve accomplished in your time at the company so far. List your contributions and make sure you have specific examples that not only highlight you and the work you’ve done for the company, but also how those examples relate directly to the job you’re asking to take on.

Finally, refer back to the pre-raise questionnaire and make sure you can say yes to all three questions.

What Not To Do When Asking For A Promotion

Asking for a promotion is a lot like asking for a raise, which means there are things you should never do, including:

Asking for a promotion for all the wrong reasons.

This is something you should think about before you even consider asking for a promotion…and it’s a big one, so don’t gloss over it. A promotion is more than just a pay raise and some extra tasks…it’s you making a commitment to the company.

Before you jump on a promotion, step back and look at the big picture.

  • Is this going to help your long term career goals or are you just doing this for the money?
  • Is this a job you really want?
  • Is the company one you plan on staying with for a period of time or is this a transitional gig?
  • Make sure you actually want the promotion before you ask for it.

Demanding a promotion because someone else got one.

Never ever compare yourself to another employee. We know it’s hard not to, and it’s difficult not to feel left out when you see a peer being rewarded for what appears to be the same amount of work…

Keep in mind, however, you have no idea what they negotiated when they were hired or what exactly they bring to the table. Instead of focusing on the people around you and how you stack up to them in the “it’s not fair” game, focus on what you have accomplished and what you bring to the table yourself.

By making it more about the company and less about other people, you’re much more likely to get what you want.

Plus, let’s be honest, nobody likes a whiner. Keep your conversation positive and focused on you.

Asking for a promotion you’re not qualified for or capable of doing.

This goes back to the research phase. When asking for a promotion, make sure you’re qualified to do the work you’re going to be taking on. The last thing you want to do is get promoted into a position you’re not ready or able to take on.

What It Means If You Don’t Get A Promotion… And What To Do Next

Not getting a promotion is a lot like not getting a raise. There are factors and situations within a company that may affect why your boss is denying your request that have absolutely nothing to do with you.

The most important thing is to remain professional and positive about the situation.

Use their denial of your request as a starting point for open dialogue about what it would take to change their mind. Be open to criticism and ready to accept their decision but at the same time, don’t leave without finding out why they’re not ready to move you up.

If it’s a situation where you’re simply not qualified or lack the necessary skills, find out what it would take to get that problem fixed.

If nothing else, use what they tell you as a way to gauge your own feelings on the situation and your role within the company overall.

Just remember to keep your emotions under control and don’t make any rash decisions or declarations without first taking time to really think things through.

Top 5 Things To Remember When Asking For A Raise Or Promotion

Very quickly, here’s our top 5 things to remember when asking for a raise or a promotion:

1. Go in knowing you really deserve the raise/promotion you’re asking for.

This means asking yourself tough questions and doing an honest assessment of your skills, knowledge and value to the company.

2. Go in knowing how much you’re actually worth.

Do your research and make sure that what you’re asking is reasonable.

3. Go in at the right time.

Make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to make your case without having to rush through things. Also take into consideration your boss’ emotional state and the general company climate overall.

4. Go in with the right attitude.

Yes this is about you, but at the same time it’s also about the company. Keep your attitude positive and your conversation focused.

5. Go in prepared to hear no.

If you hear no, find out why and what you can do to turn that no into a yes!

Putting It All Together

Asking for a raise/promotion can be nerve wracking and anxiety inducing, but getting a yes can mean opening doors to the financial future and career path you truly want and deserve. Focus on your goals, make sure you’re doing your research ahead of time, and go into your boss’ office prepared.

And as always,

Good luck!

About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.