Asking for a Raise - Best Tips

Dr. Ryan Giffen

Is there anything more nerve-racking than preparing to ask for a raise? You have been working diligently, sacrificing holidays and vacations, and going the extra mile for the employer. They should have noticed your dedication by now, but it doesn’t seem you’ll hear the long-awaited news anytime soon.

Finally, you decided. It is time to be brave and voice that question that makes you uncomfortable, although you know you deserve it. But you’re not the only one feeling that way.

For instance, even though they are satisfied with their employer, 52 percent of employees feel uneasy negotiating salary. On the other side, 30 percent are worried about losing their jobs, while 49 percent don’t want to be perceived negatively.

But no matter how nervous they were, 55 percent of those who asked got it. Don’t allow the fear to stop you. Find the right moment and go toward your goal. After all, if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.

Since we know how frightening this can be, here is everything you should know about asking for a raise.


The salary increase depends on various aspects, including your responsibilities, job tenure, and skills. But when asking for a raise, you should know what to expect and the scope you should aim for.

After a year like no other due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you might wonder what is an acceptable amount more than ever before. According to SHRM, 2021 predictions show that the average percentage increase in salary budgets has not changed much since 2020.

Bonuses are also less common considering that companies that offer performance-based variable salaries went from 73 percent to under 70 percent between 2019 and 2020.

Mercer’s insights from November 2020 hint the same. After pulling in the 9 percent of organizations that have indicated either no merit increase cycle or salary freezes, the median budget boost drops to 2.4 percent for merit and 2.8 percent for total increases.

Companies that struggle the most with the pandemic aftermaths plan to increase their financial plans by 1.8 percent.


When asking for a salary increase, employees tend to wonder what type of a raise they want. Indeed, to leave a professional, confident, and self-assured impression, you should choose the right timing and reason.

You should back up your request with proper facts and accurate data to negotiate your compensation. Here are the most frequent types of salary raises.


Due to inflation, overall prices increase each year, making life more expensive. It is necessary to think about real wage increases and nominal increases when considering COLA.

A nominal salary boost is the increased amount of your compensation compared to dollars. For example, if last year you received $60,000 but this year you’re receiving $75,000 your nominal salary boost is $15,000.

On the other side, a real salary boost is how much your compensation has increased compared to buying power. Hence, COLA ensures that your pay aligns with the costs of living, maintaining your buyer power unaffected.


Employees often earn a promotion with their hard work and stellar results. Hence, if you continuously put extra effort into your tasks, being innovative, and helping your colleagues, this is the raise you want.


How much you earn is associated with your job position, daily operations, and responsibilities. The higher you climb the professional ladder, the more competitive your salary. As a result, this type of raise comes with getting promoted and having more activities on your plate.


It is the raise that employers give to ensure all employees who have the same work responsibilities also earn the same, regardless of their gender, age, or race. However, this type of increase also happens when a new and seasoned worker receive the same pay or when a gig employee becomes a full-time hire.


In some cases, companies decide to give a new employee a raise after completing their training, internships, or probation period.


It is a review-based raise that ensures the work tenure and quality align while motivating you to keep the good work going.


Ensure that you have accurate information when preparing your I-believe-I-deserve-a-raise speech. It is what could save you from having your request declined or not having enough facts to support your exposition.

No matter if you believe your work is underpaid or you’ve been on the same salary level for some time, research the market before writing your raise request letter or setting up a meeting with the boss. Gather the data to analyze whether your compensation is realistic.

Use relevant websites to research how much people in your region with the same job title and a similar skill set are earning.

After you finished your research and collected all the information you need, it’s time to move on to the final stage.

Here are our top six tips on how to ask for a salary boost.



Consider your market research, global situation, company’s revenues, and your accomplishments when brainstorming. Be fair and realistic when preparing your request, but don’t underestimate yourself.

Even though you should do it in person, rehearse your speech by writing down all the reasons why you deserve a raise. Be coherent and center your request around why you deserve the pay increase instead of why you need it.

Avoid being shy. Include all your achievements, the projects (especially the independent ones) you completed, and the positive impact your work left. Talk about concrete examples when you helped the team or company reach an objective, increase the revenues, surpass the competition, or when you took additional responsibilities.

Mention the exact numbers because they can have a powerful effect. Think about whether you brought in ten new clients. Or, perhaps, your team created a product that helped the organization generate impressive revenues? Whatever it is, focus on what makes you indispensable and worthy of a salary raise.

If you will feel more comfortable, write a concise list of your accomplishments and print it. You can share it with your employer as you speak, which could make it easier for them to decide.


Although you should always give your best at work, pay extra attention in the period before you want to set up a meeting to ask for a raise. Ideally, it would be after the review period when your boss is more aware of your progress and accomplishments.

During this time, cement your position as a hard-working, dedicated, and passionate worker who goes the extra mile. Let your boss know that your main goal is to advance in your role, increase your knowledge and responsibilities. Encourage their feedback and implement it in your work to show your determination to be successful.

If possible, organize your schedule so that you can take additional responsibilities, especially ones that align with your prospective job role or title. Be proactive about your achievements and ensure your boss is always aware of your progress. If you do that right, they might give you a raise or promotion before you even ask.

Finally, approach your employer and ask for a meeting or time to talk about your salary. Don’t surprise them with your question. Your boss could feel ambushed, and they probably won’t have the opportunity to check if the budget allows any adjustments.


Regardless of how relaxed the workplace might be, always dress for success when negotiating your salary. Don’t go overboard, but stick with business casual or business attire.

Ensure you look presentable, confident, and professional without trying too hard.


Nobody likes feeling blackmailed, and you don’t want to cause a strain on the employer-employee relationship. Be careful how you word your request and ensure it doesn’t sound like an ultimatum.

Show understanding and be reasonable. Unless you’re ready to lose your job, don’t threaten that you’ll quit if your boss doesn’t give you a raise.


Instead of being pushy, tell your boss how much it means to you to work in their company and how your job role helps you develop personally and professionally. Thus, you can mention your plans regarding the job role and your projects.


No matter how much you accomplished and how reasonable your request might be, your boss could still decline. As much as they have the right to say no, you also have the right to ask why.

Consider what your next steps could be. Would having your request denied be a deal-breaker? Are you willing to make a compromise? For example, you could ask for work hours adjustment or attending a conference that’s significant for your job role.


Asking for a raise is inevitably uncomfortable, and it continues causing uneasy feelings, even if you are a seasoned employee with years of experience. But as a worker, you have the right to ask for a raise.

However, you should always consider the timing, do the market research, and be reasonable in your request. Finally, ensure that you’re ready to hear no and that you know what you will do next in that case.

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.