How to Ask for a Raise: 7 Tips + Script to Get a Pay Rise at Work

Are you wondering how to ask for a raise at work? The reality is, your employer won’t give you a pay rise out of the goodness of their heart, despite how tough it might be out there for you and your family to make ends meet in this economy. If you tell yourself all you need is to do a great job at work and meet the requirements of your job, that will rarely guarantee you the pay rise you want. 

Where does this leave you? How can you ask for a raise at work so you can earn more money and take off the financial pressure? Through the 7 tips I share in this blog post, plus the template script at the end, I will teach you how to create an undeniable case to get a raise at work.

When to ask for a raise at work?

In times of economic pressure, asking for a raise isn’t ideal for the company you work for. However, for valued employees who are high-performing and employees that your company wants to retain, you could be in a position to ask for a pay rise. 

In that situation, you want to be the first to ask for a raise so you can get in front of colleagues who may be thinking of doing the same thing. If others ask before you, it could deplete the departmental budget for salary or recruitment before you get a chance to ask.

As a rule of thumb, these are the situations in which you can ask for a raise:

  • It’s been a year since your last raise or since your salary was set.
  • Your role has changed significantly.
  • You’ve up-skilled to a level that warrants a raise.
  • You’re being paid below market value,
  • You were promised a raise previously, but it didn’t happen.
  • Your company is thriving.

How to ask for a raise at work

There is a strategy to follow when you ask for a pay rise. The below seven tips will guide you in the right direction.

1. Research, research, and research

This is fundamental to you building a case that you deserve a pay rise. You need to work out the typical salary for similar jobs in your location. Don’t just look at your current job title and research the market rate for similar salaries because you might be performing additional duties that weren’t included in your job description when you were hired. 

Make a list of the duties you perform in your current job, find an equivalent job title, and compare what you are currently being paid to correlating jobs in the market. That is how you find out if you’re being underpaid or if you should be earning more. This research will help you to bring facts to the salary negotiation. 

Facts will help you back up what you’re claiming to your boss – that you’re worth more money. And they will help you feel less anxious because you’ll be more confident about what you’re worth.

2. Take on more responsibility

Taking on more responsibility is how you show your boss that you’re worth the pay rise. If you only do duties within your job description, you’ll be paid the salary in your job description. To grow your salary, you need to grow your level of responsibility – outside of your current duties. 

Employment is not a free ride. You won’t be paid more because people like you. That’s not how business works. You need to add extra value to team or company to get extra money in return. This is how you make yourself indispensable and more likely to get a pay rise.

Think about how you can add more responsibility to your role. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Master the duties and responsibilities in your current role. 
  • Go above and beyond to prove you’re capable of more. 
  • Start solving problems that are in the job you want. 
  • Volunteer for a stretch project to work towards a raise.
Why are leadership skills important?
Image by Rebrand Cities from Pexels

3. Communicate your wins early and often

Communicating your wins early and often is how you position yourself as a star employee that deserves a pay rise.

  • Did you help your company to increase revenue? 
  • Did you help your company reduce expenses?  
  • Did you bring in more clients? 
  • Did you contribute to a future product or service that will have a positive impact on company? 
  • Did you receive extremely positive feedback? 
  • How has the team, department or company benefited from your contribution?

These are the type of things that your boss is really interested in. This is how they know that YOU are worth a pay rise, before you even ask. Take some time to write down the wins you’ve had over past 12 months and how they have impacted the team or company. And learn how to speak confidently about your achievements too.

4. Collect indicators of your wins

Part of the process I just spoke in tip #3 is to collect indicators of your wins. This is concrete evidence, preferably data or numbers (if applicable), to support your accomplishments and wins.

  • If you helped increase sales, by how much?
  • If you helped reduce expenses, by how much?
  • How many new clients did you bring in? How many $ did this translate into for company?
  • What specific role did you play in the future product or service creation?
  • What was the positive feedback you received? Print out emails if you can.

There are many ways you can collect indicators of your wins. I recommend you keep track of this in real-time because it’s hard to remember what happened 6 months ago. Keep a folder on your computer where you store a record of your wins as you prepare to ask for a pay rise.

Formal versus informal emails for business writing
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

5. Focus on why you deserve a pay rise, not why you need it

Your wins and indicators of your wins will help you focus on why you deserve a pay rise, not why you need a pay rise. Your boss won’t give you charity. They don’t care if you can’t afford to eat. It might sound harsh but it’s the truth. Your boss only cares about what’s in it for them and for the company. 

  • How can they benefit from you getting a pay rise?
  • Will your pay rise help you to contribute more innovative ideas for future product developments?
  • Will your pay rise mean that you’re in a better position to work with high-level clients?
  • Will it mean the company has an experienced person who knows the company in that position?
  • Will it mean they won’t have to spend money finding a replacement for you or training an external hire?

Put yourself in your boss’ shoes and think about what a pay rise will mean for them. 

6. Communicate your future potential

Communicating your future potential is where you show your boss that you’re dedicated to the company. That you don’t plan on leaving in 6 months time, taking with you all you’ve learned.  Your boss wants to know that you’re in it for the long-term. Employers love to see this. They want to know that you’re committed to growing with them.

Talk about:

  • Future career goals you have.
  • Positions in the company you would like to work towards.
  • Skills you would like to learn and develop. 
  • Ask for assistance or training to show you’re serious about building skills.

7. Practice, practice, and practice

Once you’ve done all of the above steps, then you need to practice, practice, and practice. Practice talking about the points you’ve learned about in this video. 

  • Practice discussing the research you’ve uncovered as to salary rates.
  • Practice communicating to your boss the extra responsibility you’ve taken on.
  • Practice communicating your wins and accomplishments.
  • Practice talking about the indicators of your wins.
  • Practice talking about why you deserve the pay rise, not why you need it.
  • Practice communicating your future potential.

How will you communicate these things to your boss?

Ask a friend or coworker you trust and practice the conversation with them. Ask them to be resistant and see how you respond. This will give you practice for the real-life conversation you’re going to have with your boss.

If you need some more inspiration, you can use the template below to start the conversation with your boss. 

Template: How to ask for a raise at work

The parts that are in bold are the parts that you can replace with your own words.

“Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. As you probably know, I’ve been in my current position for two years now and I’ve been thinking about how I see my growth and future in this company. 

I’ve successfully mastered the duties and responsibilities of being a Software Engineer and have even gone beyond my job description in many cases. Most recently I contributed to the new fitness app that we’re developing. Because I was the most experienced in this project, I ended up leading the team of 10 people. I helped train them so they were skilled for the job and I oversaw their work throughout the 6-month project. 

This app ended up helping the company earn $2 million in revenue in the first 6 months. And I received a lot of positive feedback from upper level management as to my contribution in this project. They would like me to take on more projects like this in the future.

This new level of responsibility led me to do some research into the market rate for Software Engineer Managers. I discovered that most Software Engineer Managers in Sydney earn between $150,000 to $175,000 per year. I’m currently on $110,000 per year as a software engineer.

I think I have a lot of potential in this company and I’ve recently invested in management training so I can become better at managing teams. I feel that with a pay rise that meets market value, I can contribute more to this company as a Software Engineer Manager.

Do you think we can revisit my compensation at this time?”

Will these 7 steps give you more confidence to ask for a raise at work? I hope they do!

About Kara

Kara Ronin is the founder of Executive Impressions. She is an executive coach who specialises in leadership presence, social skills and business etiquette. She is also the creator of Bestselling Udemy course, Business Etiquette 101. Kara’s advice and unique perspectives have been featured in Time Inc., Business Insider, Ignites Europe (a Financial Times Service), The Muse, The Local France, The West Australian, and more. Kara works regularly with lawyers, investment bankers, and finance professionals to help them build presence, authority and influence in business. Get Kara's insights delivered straight to your inbox