How to ask for a raise – 6 effective tips

But if your salary was already increased sometime in the last 12 months, expecting another one before a year is up generally isn’t realistic and is likely to come across as out-of-touch. The same is true if you haven’t been in the job for a year yet. There can be some exceptions to this, like if the job turned out to be wildly different than what was discussed when you were hired , or if your boss suddenly asks you to travel 75 percent of the time when you’d signed on for a role with little travel. But for most people, expect to wait a year from the last time your salary was set before asking for it to be reassessed.

And of course, the “excellent work” part of this matters.


If you’ve been making a lot of mistakes or your boss hasn’t seemed pleased with your work, a request for a raise isn’t likely to go over well, and you risk seeming like you’re not assessing your own performance accurately.

If you don’t what the market rate is for your work — and in your geographic area in particular, since there can be wide variations by region — find that out before you ask for more money. If it turns out that you’re already at the top of the market, you’d want to factor that into your thinking about what’s reasonable — and if it turns out you’re underpaid, that’s useful information too.

Once you have a good idea of the going rate for your work, factor in your understanding of your own employer’s salary structure too. Some employers adhere to rigid policies around how large a pay increase anyone can get at one time, or rarely give anyone more than a 5 percent raise. Others have been known to be much more generous. It’s useful to know how your company generally handles raises so that you know what’s likely to be possible.

Speaking of your employer’s salary structure: If, in the course of doing this research, you find out that men in your office are earning more than women for the same work, you have a different issue on your hands — one that moves us out of normal “how to ask for a raise” advice and into “how to address a gender pay gap” territory, which you can read about here. That’s also a good reason to be sure you’re getting data from both men and women.

You’re going to approach your manager to request this raise, and your manager is a human with normal human emotions. That means that you shouldn’t ask to talk about your salary when she’s especially harried or having a bad day or nervous about impending budget cuts. On the other hand, if you’ve just saved the day with an important client or garnered rave reviews for a high-profile project, or if your boss has seemed particularly pleased with you lately, now might be a particularly good time to make the request.

One tip: If you know your boss will need to get your raise approved by someone above her, like her own manager or HR, you can make it easier for her to do that by leaving her with a short, bulleted list of key points in your favor. Keep this short, though — no more than one page, with some quick bullets that highlight your most significant new responsibilities or accomplishments. If you have compelling data about competitive salaries, you could include that too.

If you ask for a raise and get told no, all is not lost. This is a perfect opportunity to ask what it would take to get a raise in the future. A decent manager should be able to explain to you what you’d need to do to earn more — which could be anything from “manage your work more autonomously” to “stop alienating all your co-workers” to “you’re at the top of the range for your position, so you’d have to be promoted to earn more money here.” You can then assess whether you’re able and willing to follow the path your manager lays out (or whether a realistic path exists at all). And if your manager isn’t able to give you specifics about how you can earn a raise in the future, that’s a useful signal that if you want more money, you may need to leave in order to get it somewhere else.