5 Ways to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

by Thursday Bram · 16 comments

Improving your finances doesn’t always have to be a question of saving money. Taking steps to increase your income is a legitimate option, and can make the books much easier to balance in the end. One of the most important strategies is to ask your boss for a raise: the worst that can usually happen is a “no”, but with proper preparation, you may be able to convince your boss to say yes. Here are some easy ways to improve your odds.

  1. Ask for it: If you haven’t had a raise in a while, asking for one may just be the motivation your boss needs. Take a good look at your personnel file and see how you stand out from the crowd — be prepared to win over your boss. If you can demonstrate how you’ve saved your employer money, that’s a major plus. Showing that you’ve taken on leadership roles or brought in new clients are equally useful tactics.

  2. Have an offer in hand: Looking for another employment opportunity can be a good option, even if you aren’t ready to leave your current job. Just having an offer in hand higher than your current salary can be enough to take to your boss. Ask him or her to match that higher rate — after all, a raise will probably be cheaper for your employer than the cost of looking for and training someone to fill your shoes.

    Editor’s Note: Be careful with this approach. I was in the corporate world for a good number of years, worked for managers and managed others. Loyalty matters a great deal to many people. Those who show that they don’t want to work here either gets fired on the spot of in the near future. At the very least, those who don’t want to be there are given less opportunities. Instead of handing a competing job offer to your boss, you only need to keep the salary information for yourself as a reference point in your negotiation. If you want to move ahead in your career, never ever show that you don’t like your job.

  3. Don’t just look for money: Bonuses and raises are nice, of course, but they aren’t the only way an employer can reward you. Take a look at your benefits package and see if there’s anything that would benefit you. Asking for an improvement to your benefits package can also be a key strategy if your employer is in a tight budget situation. As long as your improved benefits let you spend a little less money each month, it’s effectively the same as a raise.

  4. Come up with a new project: While more of a long-term approach, developing a project of your own that will benefit your employer can be a useful route to a raise. If you’ve got a project in mind, you can bring it to your boss, present it and then make the argument that you’ll be taking on more responsibility and therefore deserve a raise.

  5. Ask what it will take to get a raise: Your boss may not be prepared to offer you a raise right now. But if you go into his or her office and straight out ask what steps you need to take to get a raise, most supervisors are willing to map out a plan to get you that raise sooner rather than later.

Of course, all of these options are based on the assumption that you’re doing pretty well at your job. In the weeks leading up to your request, your work needs to be top-notch and, even after you have the raise in hand, you’ll probably have to prove to your employer that you earned it.

Editor’s Note: The trick is to make your boss feel good about giving you a raise. Never force them, because you aren’t looking for just one raise, but many raises down the road. Don’t always look short term, and always pave a smooth road for the future.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

marci357 April 21, 2010 at 7:33 am

Some of my benefits: paid cell phone, gas fill ups, paid garbage disposal if I bring the garbage in, free car wash at the drive thru, or free truck wash if I wash the truck at the company truck wash, soil amendments/water for my mini-garden at work that grows veggies for me, and free lunches once or twice a week, plus free soda and snacks at work, and of course, totally paid health insurance. Variable hours to work around the grandkids’ schedules, and the ability for the grandkids to be at the office for an hour or two here and there when necessary due to odd school day schedules.

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MoneyNing April 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I need to comment and say that what Marci has is NOT the norm :) While some companies will have give employees more than this, most bosses aren’t as nice.

Negotiate what really matters to you, and leave the car wash to someone else.

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marci357 April 22, 2010 at 6:56 am

Consider the true cost of those benefits if I had to pay payroll taxes on the money before I could spend the money to buy what my employer provides free gratis….

And consider that in this economy, many employers (such as mine) are struggling to keep the doors open…. I did not ask for a raise this year at all because I am in a position to KNOW that the money is not there for raises and more payroll taxes for the employer. And my hours increased due to another person getting laid off… This year, I am blessed to still have a job, and I’ll take all the odd-ball benefits gladly in lieu of a raise :) ….as I tell the Boss, just keep paying my health insurance premiums in full (which is NOT done for most employees but I negotiated for it in lieu of higher wages) and I will be happy :)

The trick is to have skills or certifications that no one else has that make you extremely necessary to the company so they need that certificate and you won’t get laid off :) This year, job security is much more important to me than any raise :)

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marci357 April 22, 2010 at 6:57 am

PS – that’s #3 above – taking advantage of benefits instead of raises :)

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kt April 21, 2010 at 8:34 am

these are very good pointers. something that i have come to learn is that people do not get something that they want mainly because they dont ask and expect just to be given right away. that is why i am for number one-ask for it, you might be surprised at how forthcoming the boss is

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MoneyNing April 21, 2010 at 8:31 pm

No one is ever comfortable saying no, and people feel good if they can help. Always ask. :)

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Sandy April 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

Loyalty matters, especially when the boss is deciding on who to keep and who to let go. These are as much an emotional decision than logical people. Make sure they are happy or else you will be sorry.

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physcodog April 21, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Write all your accomplishments down so that when you do ask your boss for a raise, you have your reasons why you deserve one on paper. Sometimes managers have such a vast crew he/she may not realize everything you have done up to the point of your request. Almost create a self evaluation.

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Jes April 23, 2010 at 12:14 am

This is exactly what I did to get a raise at my job…especially in this economy. It was a bargaining tool that worked well. Gave my boss a list of everything I have done…accomplishments, benefits of having me at the companiy (savings for example)…new tasks/roles I am performing now that I was not doing in the past…and so on. Your list is intended to show them how you are doing more than before, you are very productive and lucrative to your employer(s), and would like to be appropriately compensated.

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Physcodog April 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Excellent response and I am glad it worked out for you Jes. Many employees are taken for granted and sometimes you have to show your superiors you are more than an average employee. In addition to your evaluation, anything you are doing on your spare time can give bosses more of a reason to give a raise. For example, I mentioned my website to my boss and there was a level of admiration there and I think that helped me in the raise department.

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MoneyNing April 21, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Payscale.com and Salary.com are also good places to check for those who want to get an estimate of how much the typical employee makes in their industry, experience and geographical location.

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Physcodog April 27, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I use salary.com sometimes to check what a certain field is paying certain positions. Never used payscale.com but I will check it out.

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Smarter Spend April 22, 2010 at 3:40 am

As the saying goes, ‘You never get anything you don’t ask for.”

I recommend working hard for a little, then talking to your boss about how important your contributions are to the company. Make sure he knows your value.

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Cd Phi April 23, 2010 at 8:30 am

Don’t only talk about how you’ve saved your employer money, talk about how you MADE their company money as well. Business is all about revenue- it’s the bottom line so like you said above, be prepared to stand out and make some valid points to prove you are worthy of a raise.

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Physcodog April 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Excellent point Cd Phi. Because a manager’s success is based on how productive his/her crew is, showing the contributions you made for the company as a whole will get you noticed up the chain.

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dane October 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm

how about this one….if you’re not satisfied with the salary that you earn with the company that you’re currently with, go elsewhere. it is a slap in the face to have my employees continuously putting off the vibe that they are mis-treated simply because i cannot get them what i know they are worth. i can speak from personal experience when i say that the GUT-WRENCHING pain that a manager / supervisor feels over desperately wanting to help a worthy employee is much more than what the employee himself / herself is feeling. the sleepless nites are more times than not what finally pushes a boss over the edge to say, “i cannot handle this burden for another day” and moves on himself / herself.

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