How and When to Ask for a Raise

You are diligently working long hours, crushing deadlines, and receiving excellent feedback from colleagues at all levels of the organization. Maybe you have taken on more responsibilities and/or joined a cross-functional team that is beyond your scope.

Most of us believe we deserve and are worth much more money than we are actually paid. Sometimes this is true; other times, not so much. If you are planning to ask for a raise, here are some guidelines:

  1. Be prepared to list specific accomplishments that are above and beyond your manager’s expectations. Show your value. Examples would include taking on responsibilities that are typically performed by a higher level employee, volunteering for high visibility and high impact projects and then succeeding in deliverables, and mentoring others. Simply “working a lot of hours” is not enough. In addition, if you are meeting the expected goals that you were hired for, you are not going above and beyond. You are merely meeting expectations.
  2. Know what the competitive local market salary for your role is. If you are already on the high end of the range, you will likely not receive a raise. Data from sites like or are not sufficient because much of the data is self-reported. The numbers tend to run much higher than reality in my opinion. One option to get salary data would be to contact a few local recruiters and ask them what the going range for a role like yours is.
  3. Time the request appropriately. If you are a new hire three to six months into the job, you probably haven’t met enough goals or made such an impact yet that would warrant a raise. You are still new and learning the culture and processes, meeting people, etc. Also, don’t ask for a raise any time you are asked to step up in responsibility before producing any results. This impacts you negatively because you appear to not be willing to be a team player when needed.
  4. Understand the financial situation of the company. If sales and profitability are down, it is not the best time to ask for a raise.
  5. Do not give personal reasons for needing the raise. It is not your employer’s responsibility to pay you more if your spouse lost his or her job or you have children to put through college. Focus on work-related reasons.
  6. Keep a list of “wins” and make sure your manager knows about each accomplishment as they happen. You need to constantly “sell” yourself.

In some companies, due to bureaucracy, it is nearly impossible to receive a raise outside of the normal merit increase cycle or unless you received a promotion. Because of this, it is in your best interest to try to negotiate the highest salary you can at the offer stage. Don’t undervalue yourself. Be the best advocate for yourself that you can be!