How to Ask for a Raise

Asking for a raise or a promotion is a difficult thing to do for most people. Money in general is difficult for most people to discuss openly. It’s almost comical that in a day in age when taboos are disappearing like icebergs folks still have trouble talking about money. Compensation is at the root of what you are capable of achieving materially, but it’s still a hushed topic in most American workplaces. Too much rides on the topic to stay silent, but how do you start a conversation that you and your boss may find uncomfortable?


Prepare Mentally and Functionally

Where are you at mentally?

Assessing your current mental state is critical to success even before you start thinking about how to persuade your leader that you deserve a raise. You are about to have a conversation that you have probably labeled as difficult or critical to your future. Make sure to temper expectations and to understand that this conversation will not decide the rest of your life or the even the next 6 months. Things change and every marketplace is fluid.

See the conversation from your boss’s perspective

Find a friend and play devil’s advocate to your arguments together. Getting a secondary perspective and finding legitimate and perhaps illegitimate objections to your requests is helpful when suggesting anything, but it’s especially probable that there will be obvious reasons why your direct report will deny your request; budget constraints, changes in revenue, uncertain marketplace, etc; what’s important is how you respond.

Expect Roadblocks

It’s unlikely that your boss is going to be especially happy that you are asking for more money, because it means less money for other objectives in his pipeline. Even if you are his prized employee you are up against a rock and a hard place. You need to make it readily apparent you aren’t being ungrateful, but that you do value yourself more than your current compensation and these are the reasons why.

Get rid of any negative emotional energy

You may be frustrated from previous conversations or being overlooked for other promotions that you pursued. A chip on your shoulder can be motivating, but it can also breed negative emotional energy. Journal, vent, scream into open air and focus on getting rid of any negative and illogical emotion you have stored inside you before the meeting.

Figure out the process

Talk to an HR rep or your boss and figure out how your company assesses employees for promotion and raises. Find out if your higher up has the final authority to give you that raise or if his boss has to sign off on that meeting and try to get some face time with her/him as well. Ask peers that have gotten promotions about how their process went. Know the game you are about to play in and out.


Asking for the bump up

Develop your sales points

Why are you more valuable than you were yesterday? What have you accomplished for the company, for your boss? Why and how is your performance outpacing your peers? You need to establish yourself as a key player on your team. Be positive, do not focus on negatives or why you need the money. Show your boss you are worth what you are asking for because of previous performance.

Actively question your own position

While making your pitch, actively read your position as the conversation progresses. It’s possible that you made an error in your numbers or your negotiating adversary presents you with a position you failed to see. Be sure to reassess and apply your facts to the changing landscape.

Staying calm

It may seem obvious that you should try to keep emotion out of this conversation, but it’s not always easy. You may see this raise or promotion as needed to fulfill your plans or keep up on your finances, but in most cases your boss won’t be as emotionally attached to this proposition. If you let your emotions override your logic in any way you have ruined your position and prospects.

Create a win win situation

Obviously the best win win here is you getting more money and a better title as well as creating a great ROI for your company through your spectacular ability and knowledge. You may not get everything you want, but perhaps you can walk away with something. Maybe you don’t get the cash bonus, but it’s possible that you can tack on 10% to your yearly performance bonus. It tracks the market and provides you with additional cash flow. Perhaps you walk away with another meeting scheduled six months out after next year’s budgets have been approved.


Whatever the outcome remain positive. I’m not talking about positive thoughts or reinforcement to yourself in the mirror. I’m saying stay positive like you are in the 26th mile of a marathon or just fell down for the 100th time while learning to snowboard. Look at this roadblock as an opportunity and as motivation. Assess the situation,”‘watch the tape”, and get back out and try something new next time or change direction. If you find yourself in the market please reach out!

Originally published at Sourcing Spring Leadership Solutions | Executive Search