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What not to say to get a raise?

The Best Way To Ask for a Raise

Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.

Updated on November 20, 2022
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Asking for a raise

Are you thinking of asking for a raise? If so, you might be feeling pretty nervous. But, properly preparing before you make your proposal for a raise can vastly increase your chances of success.

Talking about money is taboo in our culture. As a result, many of us feel uneasy about salary negotiation. Research shows that one of the most common reasons for not negotiating salary is feeling uncomfortable asking for more money.


To overcome those nerves, prepare. Learn when and how to ask for a raise so that your request will be heard by a receptive audience.

Then, build a strategy that will help you achieve the best possible outcome. That doesn’t mean you’ll always get a “yes,” or that your boss will be able to give you the exact amount you request.

Key Takeaways

  • Try timing your negotiation with the company’s financial calendar.
  • Ask after a big win, such as exceeding a major goal or landing a big client.
  • If you threaten to leave, you had better be prepared to follow through.
  • Avoid giving your boss too much personal information during your discussion.

How To Ask for a Raise

Here are some of the best ways to ask for a raise, including what to say, when to ask, and how to make a case for a pay increase.

Write, and rehearse, an agenda. Don’t walk into your meeting without having prepared beforehand. Brainstorm a list of concrete reasons as to why you deserve a raise, write them down, and rehearse them to ensure a confident and convincing delivery.

In addition to listing your accomplishments, you could mention a recent expansion in your responsibilities at work, additional tasks you’ve taken on, new strategies you’ve adopted, projects you’ve spearheaded, and any plans you have to further increase your department’s success.

You may also want to consider typing up and printing out a copy for your boss, so they can look it over and discuss it with other supervisors if necessary.


Try asking when new funding is coming in, when the new fiscal year is starting, or when you think your employer could easily factor in a pay increase.

Request a meeting. Ask your boss when they might have a block of time free to discuss a question regarding your salary. You might even see if they are available for a meeting, which might be a more comfortable setting in which to have the conversation.

If an in-person conversation isn’t feasible, here’s how to request a raise via email.

Dress the part. Even if your office dress code tends to be lax, when it comes time for your meeting, you should look the part. Take those few extra minutes to put on a tie, iron your blouse, or pull your dress shoes out of the closet. Although you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard, looking polished and professional can’t hurt, and will only help you feel more confident as you make your case.

Have other options on the back burner. No one wants to hear “no” for an answer, but a rejection can present an opportunity to make another proposition:

  • Do you want to inquire about working from home one day per week?
  • Are you in need of a new mobile phone or laptop for your work purposes?
  • Is there a conference or industry event you’d like to attend?

Your boss may be more likely to say “yes” to a smaller request after saying no to a big one.

When To Ask for a Raise

Ask after a big accomplishment. Just scored a deal or landed a big sale? It’s a good time to ask for a pay raise. Capitalize on the momentum of your success, and you may find yourself in an ideal position to ask for a salary increase.

Time your request accordingly. Familiarize yourself with your company’s review policy. Do they carry out performance reviews every three months? Every six months? Every year? Discreetly discuss with your co-workers or consult with your human resources department to get a sense of the timeline. If possible, you should also try to align your request with the company’s financial trajectory.

How Not To Ask for a Raise

Here are five things not to do when you’re asking for a raise.

1. Don’t ask via email, if possible. Although it’s acceptable to schedule a meeting via email, you really should have the conversation about getting a raise in person. It’s the best way to show that you’re serious and will also allow you to gauge your boss’s reaction to your request.

2. Don’t ask at a stressful time. Use common sense when you approach your supervisor about the possibility of a raise. If your boss is particularly stressed and overworked, it’s probably not the best time to bring up the topic. If you can, wait it out and ask during a lull, or at least when you see that your supervisor is in a good mood.

3. Don’t give an ultimatum unless you’re willing to lose the job. Be careful about how you broach the topic. You don’t want to come across as too demanding. Of course, be confident and assertive in your request, but be aware of your tone and focus on being patient, professional, and understanding.

Note: Use caution with how you negotiate. You’ll probably want to avoid framing it in a way that sounds like a demand—“I need this raise, or else!”—as you should try to stay on good terms with your boss even if they say no.

4. Don’t use information about colleagues’ salaries as a reason why you should get a raise. Avoid bringing office gossip into your discussion. Even if you know someone makes more money than you and you think that you deserve a salary that’s equal—or higher—it’s advisable not to mention it.

It’s just not professional, and you never know if what you’ve heard, or overheard, is true. Instead, focus on your individual experience and accomplishments and why you should get a raise—on your own merits, not based on what other people are getting paid.

5. Don’t supply too much personal information. Ideally, you should try to craft your proposal in a way that focuses on the reasons why you deserve an increase in salary, rather than why you might need one. Some things are better left unsaid when you’re talking about a pay increase.

Unless you have an exceptionally familiar relationship with your supervisor, it’s a good idea to avoid citing personal reasons—like if your spouse lost his or her job, if you’re sending another child to college, or if an investment went bad—and instead keep the emphasis on what you’ve done to merit a raise.

What To Expect After You Have Asked for a Raise

Even though you really want to know right away, don’t expect an immediate answer.

Unless you’re at a very small company, your manager may not even have the authority to give you a pay raise even if they want to. It will probably need to be discussed with human resources and/or other company managers.


Don’t feel bad if your request is turned down. There simply may not be money in the budget for pay increases, regardless of how well-deserved your raise may be.

Many companies have formal company policies that determine salaries and pay raises, so there may not be flexibility to give you a raise other than when you are eligible for one under company guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a standard yearly raise?

Standard yearly raises typically hover around 3%. However, a recent survey showed that the median pay increase is now 4%. Around one-quarter of employers said they planned to give annual increases of 5-7%.

Is changing jobs the best way to get higher pay?

Although a pattern of job hopping can be detrimental to your career, a one-time job change is likely to boost your pay, even relative to inflation. Pew Research data shows that half of workers who changed jobs between April 2021 and March 2022 saw real pay increases of 9.7% year-over-year. However, workers who stayed put during the same time period saw their real pay decline by 1.7%.

4 Things You Should Never Say When Asking For A Raise

Woman asks for a raise

Maybe you like your job, but you’re just not where you want to be financially. What do you do? Apply for a position with a different company? Or approach your boss and ask for a salary increase?

The ability to negotiate a salary increase can place you in a better financial position: extra money can help you qualify for mortgage loans or refinancing, or if you’re trying to build a rainy day fund, a raise can jump-start these efforts. However, it’s important to research and know your value before approaching your boss.

In other words, you can only approach the conversation with a fair number in mind—based on the average salary for professionals in your industry with your experience and skill set. Of course, it isn’t enough to only research your value. You need to know the best ways to approach your boss.

Here are four things you should never say when asking for a raise:

1. Don’t Threaten To Quit

Some employees think they can get the upper hand by threatening to quit their job. However, this isn’t recommended, even if you’re prepared to follow through with the threat. Remember, the goal is to get on your manager’s good side, not tick them off. If you approach the meeting with an abrupt or aggressive attitude, your boss may not respond favorably—they may actually call your bluff!

A better approach is to explain how much you enjoy your work. Let your boss know that you’re interested in growing with the company. Next, state your argument for a salary increase. Be professional and keep your negotiations brief.

2. Don’t Mention A Co-Worker’s Salary

Man asks for a raise

If you learn that a co-worker in a similar position earns more than you, don’t mention this when speaking with your boss. There may be valid reasons why your co-worker earns more. Maybe they have an advanced degree, or maybe they took additional courses to improve their skill set. Then again, maybe they have more experience than you. Don’t immediately assume that your employer is giving you the short end of the stick.

Rather than bring up a co-worker’s salary, you could say:

«I’ve been researching the going rate for this position, and the average salary for workers with my education and experience is _____. I feel that I’ve been doing a great job and would like to discuss increasing my salary.»

3. Don’t Choose The Wrong Time

Woman asks her boss for a raise

Don’t ask your boss for a raise out of the blue, and you certainly shouldn’t ask during a meeting on an unrelated topic. Once you’ve completed your research, schedule an appointment to meet with your boss privately. Additionally, prepare for this meeting by practicing responses. In all likelihood, your boss will question why you want a salary increase. The way you answer this question can determine the outcome.

Prior to this meeting, compile a list of all your accomplishments during the last 12 months. When your boss questions your reasons, be ready to run down this list and mention any other selling points. For example, you can mention any classes you’ve recently taken, and if it’s been years since your last raise, bring this to your manager’s attention.

4. Don’t Whine About Your Personal Problems

Remote worker asks her boss for a raise

Do you have debt? Do you need to complete repairs around your house? Was your spouse laid off? These are all valid reasons to negotiate a salary increase. Understand, however, that your personal problems are not your manager’s problems. They no doubt will empathize or sympathize with your situation, but you shouldn’t expect them to automatically fix your problems by increasing your salary. Not that you shouldn’t ask for a higher salary, but keep the focus on your performance.

«In the past ___ months I’ve taken on several new responsibilities (list them), and I know that you were satisfied with many of my suggestions and changes.»

Getting paid your worth can improve job satisfaction. And if you’re already completing assignments outside your job description, why not take a chance and approach your boss? They just might comply with your request. Just remember to avoid making these four mistakes when asking for the raise you deserve!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

5 Ways to Ask for a Raise in a Performance Review

Given the labor shortage, many experts say it’s an ideal time to raise the issue. Just don’t mention inflation.

For More Expert Insights


Dan Kaplan

Senior Client Partner

Many year-end performance reviews spill into the start of the next year, and with them come some golden opportunities for savvy employees.

With millions of people still quitting jobs and firms facing millions of job vacancies, leaders are looking for fast ways to retain workers. “Every company is worried about turnover and is willing to do something to keep their best employees,” says Dan Kaplan, a senior client partner for Korn Ferry’s CHRO practice. And with corporate earnings continuing to rise, “employers have never been more profitable, so it’s a good time to ask,” says Nathan Blain, Korn Ferry’s global lead for optimizing people costs.

Still, every case is different. Expert say employees should prepare for their year-end reviews by building a solid case based on their own performance. Here are five ways to gear up for that discussion.

Set aside modesty.

Most employees are reluctant to talk about money or their achievements, but your performance review is the best time to bring up both subjects, Kaplan says. “This is one of the moments where you need to channel a bit of selfish energy,” he says. Go to the meeting prepared to talk about your 10 best accomplishments, Kaplan says.

Discuss the impact of your work.

Rather than discussing what you did at work this past year, focus on the impact of your accomplishments and how they contributed to the company’s bottom line. “Be prepared to discuss the direct economic impact your actions had on the company’s profits,” Blain says. Think in terms of increased customer retention, sales or revenue growth, or expanded market reach.

Determine your market value.

If you suspect your salary is below market, research how much others in your position — living in the same city and with the same years of experience, education, and skills — are being paid. But be aware that most managers are skeptical of data from sites like Glassdoor because the salary numbers are self-reported, Blain says. If you have a friend with a similar job who is getting paid more by a competitor, that data might hold more weight, he says.

Using data to make your case can be tricky in any case, Kaplan says. The numbers from Glassdoor are at least a year old, he says. And you don’t want to cite the higher pay of a colleague at the same company. “Discussing salary could be a fireable offense, and you don’t know if your colleague is exaggerating his salary,” Kaplan says.

Make sure it was a good year.

You should ask for a raise during a performance review only if the discussion with your manager is positive, Kaplan says. If you’re getting negative feedback about your performance, don’t ask for more money.

If your company hasn’t had a profitable year and has had to lay people off, don’t ask for a raise. But you should stake a claim on a raise in 2022, Kaplan says. Acknowledge that it’s been a tough year for the company but remind your manager about your accomplishments and say something like, “As the market returns, I hope that next year you will consider me for a salary increase and factor in that I have waited a year for a raise.”

Keep personal finances out of the discussion.

Never talk about inflation or your need for more money when you ask for a raise, Blain says. “Your employer doesn’t want to hear that inflation is making it harder for you to stretch your salary because everything costs more,” he says. And your manager won’t be moved by your personal financial situation. Don’t talk about how you want to buy a larger house or complain that the city where you work is too expensive to live in.

“What your employer will be moved by is the possibility of losing a valued employee if you don’t get a raise,” Blain says.

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