A 30-step plan to getting the raise you deserve

Don’t leave money on the table. This is how to ask for a raise. pan_kung/Shutterstock.com

  • It’s crucial to know how to ask for a raise, but many Americans have never done it.
  • Knowing when to ask for a raise can also be tricky.
  • Asking for a raise could improve your income in the short- and long-term. And if you don’t ever ask, failing to negotiate could potentially cost you more than a million dollars over the course of your career.

It’s crucial to know how to ask for a raise and negotiate your salary.

“The important thing to remember is that if you don’t ask the answer is always no,” Joanna Echols, a career and wellness coach, told Business Insider.

But most Americans have never asked for a raise. And an analysis by Salary.com found that failing to negotiate could potentially cost you more than a million dollars over the course of your career.

It can be intimidating to ask for a raise. But here are 28 tips on how to navigate the pay bump process.

First, you need to prepare your case …

Ask yourself if you actually deserve the raise

You need to determine if you have an important role at the company or not, Comparably CEO and co-founder Jason Nazar wrote for Inc.

“Take an honest and objective look at your value to the business and negotiate accordingly,” Nazar wrote.

He shared a quick way to judge just how valuable you are at the business: “If you were to leave your company tomorrow, would there be any meaningful disruption to the business? If the answer is no, you don’t have any leverage to get a raise.”

Don’t ask if you’ve been at the company for less than a year

Don’t mention the need for a pay raise if you’ve been there for less than a year, wrote Alison Green of US News & World Report’s Ask a Manager blog.

There’s one exception – if your responsibilities are dramatically different from what was outlined in the interview process, you might be eligible for a raise, Green wrote.

Understand the goals that you need to accomplish


Career strategist Miriam Salpeter told Business Insider that it’s important to have goals that you can use to measure your success. Make sure you and your supervisor both understand how success looks in your organisation and what is expected.

If your employer does not make this clear, it is up to you to identify these targets and pursue these goals.

List how you’ve met or exceeded those goals


Find the specific examples and ways you’ve gone above and beyond, Monster careers expert Vicki Salemi told Business Insider.

“You should always link individual performance to departmental goals, and then to overall company goals and how what you’ve done directly impacted each,” Adam Ochstein, founder and CEO of StratEx Partners, previously told Business Insider.

Prepare a case based on how you’ve quantifiably exceeded your goals


Find the numbers that prove your contribution to the workplace, model and businesswoman Tyra Banks previously told Business Insider.

“You need to sit there and talk about your value. Talk about what you have done that has increased revenues, increased engagement,” Banks said in a Business Insider video.

That data should comprise the bulk of your salary negotiation because it’s hard proof of how valuable you are to the company.

“People should have that information ready when they go into that meeting with their boss,” Salemi told Business Insider. “It shouldn’t be spontaneous. It should be really well-thought, intentional, and planned.”

But don’t forget the qualitative reasons either


Your argument for a raise may also include evidence that isn’t based on numbers.

If you led training, introduced new procedures, or became a trustworthy person during a year with tumultuous office politics, you should include that in your discussion, Salemi told Business Insider.

If you bring a rare skill to your job, highlight that as well

Before you decide to ask for a possible raise, take an inventory of your unique selling proposition.

“Know how you measure up in the industry, department, and company,” Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job,” said.

Present the unique skills and achievements you bring, particularly ones that are in shortage industry-wide.

“Cyber security and SEO/SEM marketing are hot job specialties, for example, whereas certain other positions are becoming more automated. Or there may be great supply, but reduced demand,” Taylor said. “Factor in where your field of expertise stands in the general job marketplace.”

But if you’re in a shrinking field, like journalism or desktop publishing, you’re not in the best position to ask for a lavish pay increase.

Know that ‘I need more money’ is not a reason to ask for a raise


Banks emphasised to Business Insider that you shouldn’t discuss your own needs during a salary negotiation.

“It is not your employer’s interest, their personal interest, to actually really truly care for that, and it’s not necessarily going to make them open up the pockets of that company to pay you for that,” Banks previously told Business Insider.

Next, figure out how much to ask for …

Look at what your role pays industrywide


Tons of online tools can help you learn what the median pay is for industry, position, and location. Try salary data websites like Payscale, Glassdoor, Indeed, and Salary.

“The most important thing is to understand what your role is being paid, in the market, again everything is market research,” career coach Susie Moore previously told Business Insider.

By supplying your current salary, title, company, location, and experience, you can use Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool to see how your market value has trended over time and how it compares to workers similar to you.

You can also take PayScale’s Salary Survey to access a free report with a salary range based on your position, skills, education, and experience.

Avoid asking your colleagues what they’re paid

People rarely talk openly about money, and, as Business Insider previously reported, in many companies salary discussion is even prohibited.

Moreover, you don’t want to use hearsay in your salary negotiations.

Avoid asking for an outlandish increase


You learn that you’ve exceeded your goals, brought a lot of money to your company, and slashed costs in the process.

Now it’s time to ask for a 30% raise, right?

Nope. Slow down.

Asking for too much is one of the most common mistakes in salary negotiation, Laura MacLeod, creator of From The Inside Out Project, previously told Business Insider.

“Your boss may feel you are totally out of touch with what you are worth and the company’s budget,” MacLeod said.

Decide on a target percentage increase


Most annual raises are between 1% and 5% of your current salary.

Marc Dickstein, career coach, said to expect a 3% raise if you met expectations.

But if you’re exceeding expectations, Taylor previously told Business Insider you could ask for 10% to 20% more than you’re making.

Decide on a minimum bump

Know the minimum you’ll accept for a new salary and stick to it, Taylor said. Come to that number from your industry-wide salary research.

This is especially important if you’re being dramatically underpaid and need your salary to match how other companies would compensate you.

Consider if you would be ok with keeping your salary, but receiving other perks


If your company happens to be strapped for cash or your industry is suffering, Salemi told Business Insider that you might want to be open to flexible working hours, more paid time off, a one-time bonus, or other benefits.

Now, figure out the perfect time to ask …

If your performance review is coming up, plan to raise the topic after receiving favourable feedback

An annual performance review is the typical time to discuss pay bumps.

“Favourable performance reviews often come with the increase of the compensation,”Joanna Echols, career and wellness coach, told Business Insider.

If you don’t have a performance review on the horizon, you could schedule a salary discussion a few months before the end of the financial year


If you don’t have a performance review coming up, asking for a raise before the yearly budget is set is sometimes a good plan.

The budget is usually set in October for most companies, wrote Suzanne Lucas in Inc.

“It’s far easier to find extra money for you at the beginning of the year-end salary increase process than it is at the end,” Lucas wrote.

Or you might ask before or after a major success


Kathleen McGinn, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, told Harvard Business Reivew that good times to ask for a raise include before you take on new responsibilities or right after you successfully complete a project.

“If you’ve just created a whole bunch of value for your company, it’s a great time to say, ‘Can we share that value?’,” she told HBR.

Set up a meeting — in person


“Schedule a convenient, relaxed time for your manager and you to sit down, uninterrupted,” Taylor previously told Business Insider. “Approach the subject diplomatically, with an upbeat, positive demeanour.”

Practice beforehand

You have your notes on industry-wide pay data, how you’ve contributed to the company, and how you’ve exceeded your goals.

Now, practice it with a trusted mentor, Paul McDonald, senior executive director at global staffing firm Robert Half, previously told Business Insider.

“A great mentor gives feedback not just on what you say, but also on how you say it,” McDonald said. “Tone of voice, facial reaction, defensiveness, frustration can all hinder a negotiation. Practice the discussion until it’s free of emotion and nerves.”

Once you’re prepared, it’s time to ask …

Consider using the ‘gentle startup’ technique


Dr. Michael McNulty, a master trainer from The Gottman Institute and founder of the Chicago Relationship Center, previously told Business Insider that the “gentle startup” technique is an ideal way to begin the negotiation.

It looks something like: “When X happens or happened, I feel Y, and I needZ.”

You could say, “When I compare my current compensation to the industry-wide pay data for someone of my experience, I feel undervalued. I need my pay to be comparable to others in the field.

Or, “When I calculate the value I’ve contributed to this company, I feel happy to know that I’ve added $$$. Now, I need my salary to reflect my contributions.”

For most of the negotiation, you won’t want to focus on you – you’ll focus on the company and the value you provide to it. But this is one way to broach salary discussions.

Explore the data of how you’ve exceeded


“You should always link individual performance to departmental goals, and then to overall company goals and how what you’ve done directly impacted each,” Ochstein previously told Business Insider.

Don’t spare any detail in how you’ve benefitted the company. Your boss might not know all of the finer points, career strategist Miriam Salpeter told Business Insider.

“If you are working harder and contributing more, it’s up to you to be sure people know about it,” Salpeter said. “Do not assume people with authority to provide a raise fully understand your work unless you are making a consistent effort to ensure you are advancing forward with your goals and that they are tracked.”

Deliver with confidence


The tips you think of for a job interview – confidence, energy, positivity – carry over here.

“You have to sell yourself, just like it’s a job interview,” Clare Moore, a content marketing manager at HR company MHR, previously told Business Insider.

Fran Hauser, media executive, startup investor, and author of the new book “The Myth of the Nice Girl,” wrote for Business Insider that you need to maintain strong eye contact, have good posture, and avoid filler words like “um.”

Keep energy high and be positive, showing that you love your job and you’re passionate.

“The delivery of your message matters,” Hauser wrote. “If you sound like you’re not sure about whether you deserve a raise, it may raise doubts for the person across the table. It will also tip them off that it’s easy for them to say no.”

Don’t rely on hearsay

You will mention industry-wide data, but don’t namedrop your colleagues – or how much they earn.

“Don’t compare yourself to other colleagues, focus on your own career path and goals,” Kerr previously told Business Insider. “And since many companies have a policy that prohibits employees from discussing their salaries, don’t bring up other salaries, unless you speak in generalities.”

Remember it’s not about you


Connect yourself to the company, and how you fit in there.

“The fact that you are a stellar performer is less significant to the organisation than your ability to help others perform well too,” Debra Benton, executive coach, told Glassdoor. “People who get raises and promotions make it about the whole team, not themselves.”

Arguing that you deserve the raise and that the company is doing you a disservice by not giving you that will alienate your boss.

“Framing it that way puts you at odds with the company. Your best bet is to connect what you’re doing to the company’s most critical metrics,” Nazar wrote. “If you are meaningfully driving one of those metrics, an employer is going to do whatever they can to pay you more because there’s so much value for them on the backend.”

Finally, prepare how your response …

If you get turned down, ask what you need to do to improve


If you get a ‘no,” don’t get defensive. Ask why not and what you can do to improve.

“Get as much specific feedback as possible so you can figure out what steps you need to take to get to the next level,” Hauser wrote.

Though it didn’t work out in your negotiation, you can take heart in knowing that your manager now knows this is something you’re pursuing.

“Rather than storming out and bad mouthing the company, ask how a raise can be achieved in three, six, or nine months,” Ochstein told Business Insider.

And put something on the calendar for a few months out


McGinn advises asking to revisit the issue in a few months if you don’t get the raise you ask for and then getting this discussion on your boss’s calendar.

Offer your interest in different compensation options


If your company can’t pay more due to budget constraints, ask about increased paid time-off days, flexible work arrangements, a one-time bonus, or other options, Salemi said.

Keep an open dialogue

Ideally, you should be having regular, open conversations with your boss about your future at the company.

“Talk about what you want with your boss,” Toni Thompson, vice president of people and talent at The Muse, previously told Business Insider. “Make sure that they know what salary you want eventually and the title you want or more opportunities that you want.”

That way, your boss can help prepare you to score that title bump and/or raise.

“Asking for a raise should be a natural part of an ongoing conversation, rather than an ill-timed surprise chat fuelled by anxiety-inducing assumptions and interpretations,” Dickstein told Business Insider.

Don’t be afraid of looking for a new job if your current employer can’t pay better


If you’re being critically underpaid and your firm refuses to budge, go elsewhere. Getting a new job is the easiest way to earn a raise.

As a bonus, all of the research you did on your excellent performance at the company can be easily entered into your new résumé, Salemi said. You also are armed for your next salary negotiation with industry-wide salary date.

Got the raise? Don’t forget to follow up over email


Congrats! Now it’s time to make a paper trail so your raise comes on time and in the right amount.

Mention your excitement to continue making great contributions to the company. Spell out all changes to your compensation package and when they will take effect.