How to Ask for a Raise

Feeling overworked and underpaid? Maybe it’s time for a raise but you don’t quite know how to approach your boss. Don’t fret. Here are some tips to keep in mind when asking for a raise that will increase the odds of your supervisor approving your request. 

Do Your Homework

First things first: understand that it’s not unheard of to be working in a capacity that isn’t accurately reflected in your paycheck. In other words, there are tons of employees that are severely overworked and underpaid and will continue to stay in the same rough spot for years because they fail to take initiative or explore what else is out there for them.

But this doesn’t have to be you. It’s ok to ask for a raise in order to be fairly compensated, or at least a bit closer to what that should look like. However, you can’t just barge into your supervisor’s office and demand more dough or threaten to quit. (Well, you can, but it probably won’t end well for you).

Figure Out What You’re Worth

Unless you’ve been on the job for a short period of time, you probably don’t remember the salary negotiation phase. When you were hired, the pay probably seemed appropriate based on your roles, responsibilities, and location. But with more credentials and years under your belt, it’s time to revisit this figure to determine if you’re being compensated fairly. 

You can search for industry averages in your local areas using sites like, Glassdoor,,, and And it also doesn’t hurt to peruse similar job opportunities that have the pay listed in the postings to determine if the proposed amount you’re requesting from your employer is fair. 

Identify Gaps and Turn Them Into Opportunities

What exactly does that mean? It all boils down to figuring out where the gaps lie in your department and what you can bring to the table to help bridge these gaps. In other words, why should your supervisor give you a raise? How can you add more value? What will they get out of the deal? 

Request a Meeting With Your Supervisor

And now for arguably the most terrifying part of the process: requesting a sit-down with your supervisor. You can shoot them an email asking for a few minutes of their time to chat about your current role and compensation, or you can walk into their office and request a meeting. However, the latter isn’t recommended because if your supervisor is in the middle of an important task, they may forget to loop back around to set up the meeting. But if you send an email, they’ll respond with proposed dates and times when it’s convenient for them. 

Have a Pleasant Demeanor 

During the meeting, be kind and listen to what they have to say in response to your request. Chances are you’ll get an idea of how they’re feeling about your request by their tone, but they may also offer valuable feedback in the process that can help you improve your job performance.

Remember, the ball is going to be in their court after the conversation and you want them to reflect on your calm and professional demeanor when trying to reach a decision. 

Most importantly, avoid whining, complaining, venting, any morsel of negativity. Now is not the time for that and it won’t win you any cool points with your supervisor. In fact, doing so may put you on their crap list. 

Plead Your Case 

Remember the initial interview that helped you pass the pre-screening phase or get your foot in the door? There’s something about you that stood out to your then prospective employer and made them decide to hire you. 

Why Should They Say Yes?

And now that you’re asking for a raise, you’ll need to find that “one thing” (or maybe more positive attributes) that will compel your employer to acquiesce to your request. Maybe you’ve worked diligently to save the company thousands or millions of dollars, drastically improved performance across the board with innovative processes, or made strategic moves that boosted the companies bottom line.

And there’s always a possibility that you’ve received stellar reviews year after year, yet you’ve never been compensated for your top-notch performance. This is another valid point to make to your supervisor but in a pleasant way of course. 

Quantify Outcomes 

Whatever the reason is for your request, quantify the results or outcomes to demonstrate just much value you add to the company. The idea is to show them why they need to say yes. 

Mention Other Positive Attributes You Process

Think about the many ways you use your positive attributes to make a major difference in the workplace. A few questions to ponder: 

  • Are you the first one in the door each morning and the last one to leave? 
  • Do you stay late to finish work on projects even if you’re not being paid extra to do so?
  • Do you willingly volunteer to do overtime when the others in your office won’t pitch in and there’s a deadline looming on the horizon? 
  • Do you frequently help others when they are struggling with their roles and responsibilities on the job?
  • Are you a natural born leader and chart the course in the workplace, despite not having the “manager” title? 
  • Do you complete projects or essential tasks far in advance or take on responsibilities that don’t belong to foster rapid progress in your department?  

If you answered yes to any of these questions, be sure to weave them in when building your case for a much needed and deserved raise. 

Be Patient

Don’t expect your supervisor to give you a concrete answer before the meeting’s over. They didn’t hire you on the spot, so this isn’t any different. In most instances, there are channels they have to go through to get requests for raises approved. So it wouldn’t make sense for them to shout out a number and have to retract their offer later on down the line.

Play the waiting game and only follow-up if a substantial amount of time has passed and you’ve heard nothing more about it. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out if it’s been months and you get the sense that your boss hasn’t submitted the request to their superior or human resources for review or seems to be avoiding you altogether. These are all signs that there could be trouble in paradise and it may make more sense to seek employment elsewhere. 

What to Do If Your Request for a Raise Isn’t Approved

Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned and there’s a chance your request for a raise won’t be approved. If your supervisor says no: 

Wait It Out and Try Again

It won’t hurt to ask exactly what it’s going to take to get approved for a pay raise. This is an opportunity to determine how to adjust your workplace performance so they’ll rule in your favor the next time around. 

But if you’re supervisor informs you that the company has no intention to give out raises in the near or distant future for whatever reason, that’s your queue to search for promotions within or leave the company altogether. More on that shortly. 

Move On To a More Lucrative Opportunity

Have you been networking with others within your company? They may know of other opportunities you qualify for, and could possibly put in a good word for you. 

But if you’re ready to spread your wings and find employment elsewhere, hit the ground running with your job search or find other ways to make money. Attend networking mixers, career fairs, and set an aggressive goal to apply for at least five opportunities per day. With a tailored and effective cover letter and resume, this approach practically guarantees you’ll get the results you’re looking for in record time. 

Give Up and Settle For Your Current Pay 

Maybe you desperately want a raise but love your job and company. If your finances aren’t in shambles and you can live with your current rate of pay, it may make sense to give up your quest for a raise, at least until a better opportunity surfaces. 

Bonus Tip: Explore Other Options

Itching to see what else is out there? If you have a hefty cushion in your bank account, it may be time to take an extended or permanent leave and venture out to see what else life has to offer. This could mean you go off the grid and travel abroad for a few months to do some soul-searching. Or maybe you can launch that business you’ve always dreamed of. 

The Bottom Line

Asking for a raise can be a scary endeavor. But you never know what the end result will be: you could get an increase that blows your mind, or your simple request could turn into a promotion to a more lucrative and rewarding role. 

By contrast, there’s always a chance your request will be shot down, but with a backup plan, you’ll be prepared and in the best possible position to thrive in your career, despite your supervisor’s decision.