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5 Must-Haves When You're Asking for a Raise at Work Thumbnail

5 Must-Haves When You're Asking for a Raise at Work

Insights Cash Flow

One of the most significant ways to feel appreciated at work is by being compensated appropriately. But what should you do if that’s not the case?

Ask your boss for a raise! 

We know that asking for a raise can be nerve-wracking, so we’ve compiled a list of what you need to feel confident and prepared walking into the negotiation room.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Know exactly what you want and have evidence to show why you’ve earned it.
  • Don’t let fear of retaliation or rejection keep you from asking for a raise.
  • Have a plan for what you’ll do if your company can’t or won’t give you what you’re asking for.

Must-Have #1- Evidence

Contrary to what you might think, you won’t get a raise simply because you deserve it, even if you have a stellar work track record. You must ask for what you want. 

Perhaps the most compelling way to illustrate to your supervisor that you deserve a raise is with data and evidence. 

First, tie your efforts to the company’s success. Did your project improve the team’s productivity by 30%, an all-time high? Did you help your division boost profits by 25%? What added efficiencies did you implement, and did it save the company money?

Numbers are hard to deny, so be specific and actionable regarding how the company has benefited directly from your work. 

The best accompaniment to quantitative data is qualitative data. So include things like positive feedback from supervisors, coworkers, clients, customers, etc., where you got praise for your work. 

It’s often beneficial to store these in a “smile file” or “work wins” folder to streamline the preparation for conversations about raises and performance reviews. If you’re looking for a new job, it may also help you demonstrate your skills in a resume/cover letter or help you find a reliable reference. 

Positive messages are also nice to review if you’re having a rough day and need encouragement. 

Now that you have your evidence, it’s time to get out your crystal ball. 

Must-Have #2 - Predictions for the Future

While interviewing, your now boss may have asked, “where do you see yourself within this company in 5 years”? Let’s revisit that idea and prepare your plans for helping your company grow. 

What do you anticipate bringing to the table in the coming days, months, or years that benefit the company? And, how will you explain why what you’re doing supports your need for a raise? 

For example, has your work brought large profits to the company? Explain that you want to reinvest those profits into hiring a junior employee to build your team. Not only does this show initiative, but also growth and development for yourself and the organization.

Considering personal growth, will you pursue an additional post-secondary degree, on-the-job training, certification, etc.? And how will that benefit the company? For example, getting a management certification to sharpen your skills and help the company retain its top talent.

Must-Have #3 - Make Sure the Timing is Right

As with most things in life, timing is everything. Inopportune timing can cause a denial for even the most deserving employee.

Prior to setting up the meeting, consider these items: 

  • Budget Constraints
  • Company’s policy of giving raises throughout the year rather than at a designated time
  • Does your manager know this is coming?

If you’re unsure where your company stands in terms of budget or policies regarding promotions, reach out to your human resources department for guidance.

In addition, make sure to alert your manager about what you’re looking to discuss. Allow them the same courtesy of preparing for the meeting that you’ve had by giving them a heads-up.

Must-Have #4 - Know Exactly What You Want

Honesty goes a long way, and this conversation is no different. Be honest with your supervisor about your reasoning for the raise. And we don’t mean equating it to the rising costs of living. 

While that’s valid, it may not go as far as explaining to your supervisor how the raise is mutually beneficial. You could talk about things like taking on additional responsibility, growing into a leadership position, your longevity with the company, etc.

You can also do some research (Glassdoor is a great tool) to determine what other companies are paying for similar roles, management levels, and years of experience. 

Also, ask for what you want, but be open to negotiating. The average pay raise is 3%, but you could ask for more with the intention of meeting in the middle. Most people ask for raises of 10-20%, but your number could differ depending on your experience, success in your role, or other competing offers. 

Must-Have #5 - Confidence

Even though it may be challenging, lead this conversation with confidence. When you’re well-prepared and conduct yourself professionally, you will garner respect and can have a more productive talk. 

Remember, your supervisor and company should be invested in your growth and will likely be receptive and willing to hear you out. 

If you’re prepared with data, evidence, and a clear ask, take comfort in knowing that you did all you could to set yourself up for success.

Know Your Worth

Before the meeting, it’s important to take some time and think about what will happen after the conversation is over. What if they can’t give you what you’re looking for? What if it’s not the right time for the company to make changes? No matter the reason, what will you do if the conversation doesn’t go how you want it to? 

Will you start looking for other opportunities? Or reformulate your raise “ask” at another time? Planning for multiple outcomes may help ease your concerns should the meeting not go as you hope.

Identity-Based Considerations

Raise conversations aren’t one note. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that these conversations can be even more challenging for some people than others based on preconceived notions and societal biases. We’ll address the two most common: gender identity and those from marginalized groups.


While both men and women ask for raises, typically, employers are more willing to say yes to their male workers. A study found that 82% of men who asked for raises were successful, compared to only 74% of women. 

Beyond that, the gender wealth gap continues to prevail regarding base salary and compensation. A Glassdoor report uncovered that women must ask for a larger raise percentage, roughly 21%, to remain commensurate with their male counterparts.   

So, women are more likely to ask for less money and don’t get raises as often as men, two significant problems in the wage disparity space. 

The workplace also teems with gender biases and the characteristics that each gender “should” assume—the confident male leader, the reserved female helper. All these biases can impact your raise discussion, and it’s essential to understand the larger context of these issues as you prepare. 

Even though the wealth gap persists, it’s actively closing because women speak up, display their leadership skills, and, importantly, ask for the raises they rightfully deserve. 

Members of Marginalized Groups

Raises are also more challenging for those in marginalized communities, like women, people with disabilities, the elderly, people that identify as LGBTQ+, or other racial minority groups (Black and African American, Asian American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern American, or Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander).

Members of marginalized groups are typically less likely to ask for a raise or negotiate their salary. So, keep these things in mind if you’re feeling hesitant. 

  • Don’t assume your salary is non-negotiable.
  • Talking about your accomplishments isn’t bragging.
  • Be confident in your abilities and what you bring to the table.

While stepping up to the table to ask for a raise won’t fix years of inequity in the workplace, it’s a great place to start.

If you have questions about asking for a raise or need advice on what to do with your extra funds when you get one, please set up a time to meet with us

We look forward to helping you reach your financial and personal goals.