How to Negotiate A Raise With Your Boss

How to Negotiate A Raise With Your Boss

When was the last time you got a raise? If the answer is somewhere between “never” and “I don’t remember,” then it might be time to step up and talk to the boss about a pay bump. Let’s stipulate for the record that you’re an ideal employee with glowing performance reviews. Let’s also stipulate that the company you work for is humming along without any signs of a downturn. In other words, the conditions appear to be ripe for that big pay raise conversation. Here’s what you need to negotiate a raise:

Raise by Calendar Year

The accepted normal pay raise cycle happens once a year. However, for most companies those raises aren’t automatic. Perhaps your boss is waiting for you to step up and ask for the raise. They certainly won’t volunteer giving away more money unless you’ve done exceptional work that generates huge revenue for the company, or they are hoping you’ll stay loyal to them as opposed to jumping ship. That usually happens in the competitive world of the tech industry.

Believe it or not, small raises every six months are actually very common in the retail food space. If it has been a year or more since your last bump, then it might be time to step up.

When To Ask

Speaking of time, when is the right time to ask for your raise? You might think it would be tied to your annual performance review. Too often, if you wait until then, all the money allocated for raises will have already been given out. Suppose that review happens in December? You might want to schedule your first round of raise talks in September. Get ahead of the curve. If you’ve earned that raise, then the boss won’t have to wait until the review to make it happen.

How To Ask

The wrong approach would be to storm into your boss’s office, rip the phone out of his hand and shout, “Show me the money!” The correct approach is to calmly be prepared to answer the question, “Why do you think you deserve a raise?” Actually, you shouldn’t even wait for that question to be asked. Instead, volunteer the information, starting with the opening salvo of, “I’d like to talk about my salary.” Then list all the things you’ve accomplished in the past year and all the added responsibilities you’ve taken on. Those two factors will be crucial with regard to determining a raise. If you’ve maintained the status quo since your last raise, then don’t expect much of a bump.

A good place to practice your executive conversations is by attending expos and conferences related to your industry. This will allow you to hobnob with other business professionals and gain confidence talking about your own accomplishments. It never hurts to practice.

What Will Your Raise Look Like?

An average raise for most companies is around 3 percent. That would mean your request for a 10 percent bump might seem a bit over-the-top. If you did an amazing job that was noticed up and down the corporate ladder, then you could look forward to a 4 percent increase. A good approach is to let your boss make the first offer. If it is higher than you were expecting, then snatch it right away. If it feels too low, then counter with a reasonable offer of your own. Chances are you’ll meet somewhere in the middle and everyone will be happy.

Your Line in the Sand

Should you ever draw a proverbial line in the sand with regard to your raise? It’s one thing to have a solid offer from another company and ask to have that salary matched at your current place of employment. However, if your company can’t match, would you be prepared to take that other offer? One dangerous situation would be to open the negotiations with stats about your position in the rest of the industry. Saying, “Other people at other companies make X amount” might have your boss suggesting you go there. Tread carefully when it comes to what you need to be happy.

The No

Finally, what happens if after all your thoughtful presentation and reasons, you are hit with a no? You could ask what it would take for you to get that raise next year. If the boss doesn’t have an answer or doesn’t feel like the company is in any position to give out raises ever, then it just might be time to look for other opportunities. Just don’t jump ship until you’ve got a solid offer.

About The Author

Anum Yoon is the founder and editor of Current on Currency. She loves all things personal finance, which is why you'll find her work all over the PF blogosphere. Catch her updates on Twitter @anumyoon!


  1. Sandy Smith

    so informative article, bright ideas I think could be tried no matter if boss don;t raise the salary. try must.

  2. amber tree

    Nice article. It inspires me for an upcoming talk at work

  3. GreenDollarBills

    One additional tip that I’d add is to make sure that if you’re going to really push for a salary raise you might want to line up a different job in the background. This shouldn’t be used to strong arm but gives you another option to a) compare salaries; b) as a fall back in case you decide that there’s no budging the management


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