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Money Script: How to Ask for a Raise

Woman asking for a raise

Receiving a raise can be one of the easiest ways to increase your savings. Even if you invest just half of the monthly increase into your emergency fund, your retirement account, or your children’s college account, you are on your way to greater financial wellbeing without much more effort on your end.

Prior to President Trump’s tax reform laws in late 2017, human resources consultancy firm Aon Hewitt revealed that, of the more than 1,000 businesses they surveyed, most had budgeted only around 3 percent increases to base pay (that amount has held steady for the past 6 years). How tax reform will impact these findings remains unclear. Consultancy PwC projects a higher percentage. Regardless, some sources have suggested that asking for a temporary reward (say, a bonus or other perk) may increase your chances of bringing in more money. But be warned: in the long run, that kind of merit pay is far easier to retract than an increase to your base pay.

Read the below tips to increase your chances for success when asking for a raise. Then, when you are ready, get your numbers in order, take a deep breath, and go in for the ask.

When asking for a raise, DO these things:

  • Browse sites like PayScale, Glassdoor, and salary.com to research salary trends for professionals with similar titles and responsibilities in your geographic area.
  • Provide concrete, written demonstration of your accomplishments and contributions.
  • Take advantage of a recent accomplishment or other events in which your performance stood out.
  • Time your request with your company’s financial trajectory and aim to have the conversation about 3 months before annual reviews.
  • Increase your chances for success by asking for a specific—even oddly specific—amount.
  • Expect to hear “no” and be prepared to follow up with some alternative rewards.
  • Practice! It’s natural to feel some anxiety when walking into a negotiation. Preparation is your best defense.

When asking for a raise, DON’T do these things:

  • Ask during a stressful time for the organization and/or your supervisor.
  • Threaten to leave, unless you are willing to.
  • Talk about why you need the salary boost—extra expenses or financial stress at home. Stay focused on your performance and your value to the company.
  • Make an unrealistic request. Most annual raises amount to between 1 percent and 5 percent of one’s salary. A good raise is 5 percent. 


Be positive and emphasize your loyalty to the organization.

“I have greatly enjoyed working at [COMPANY] for the past [NUMBER] of years. I contribute to the organization’s mission and take my role of [POSITION TITLE] seriously. I have become an integral member of the [SALES/LEADERSHIP/ACCOUNTING/ADMINISTRATIVE] team. I also have taken on new responsibilities and implemented new systems and efficiencies.”

Then offer concrete examples of your accomplishments, with an accompanying print-out, to demonstrate what you are worth to the company.

“In the past year, for example, I have achieved the following goals:

  •  increased traffic by [NUMBER] percent
  •  brought in [DOLLAR AMOUNT] more in sales than the year before
  •  implemented a new system that saved the company [NUMBER] hours in labor, amounting to [DOLLAR AMOUNT] each month
  •  spearheaded the new [NAME] project 
  • assumed additional tasks and responsibilities such as [LIST OF TASKS] 

Demonstrate the industry standard for the position.

“Today, the industry standard for someone in this region with similar responsibilities is [SALARY AMOUNT].”

Finally, ask for a specific amount.

“As you can see, I have not only met the performance targets we set for my position when I was hired, but have also gone beyond that capacity. That’s why I am asking that my salary be increased to reflect my current performance. I believe a raise of [PERCENTAGE OR DOLLAR AMOUNT] is commensurate with my responsibilities and the industry standard.”

If you hear ‘no,’ respond with something like this:

“I understand that a raise isn’t a possibility. Would you consider other ways of compensating my performance such as working from home one day a week, sponsoring my attendance at an industry event, purchasing a laptop upgrade, or increasing my number of vacation days?” 

If you hear ‘no’ again, respond with something like this: 

“I understand you don’t have a sense of my accomplishments. Can we set some benchmarks for me to aim for in the next 6 months and revisit the question then?”