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How to Ask for a Raise

Asking for a raise is never easy, no matter how deserving you think you are. If you're like most guys, the mere thought of approaching your boss causes perspiration to drip out of places you never knew existed. Today's fragile job market makes the task even more challenging, with the job demand being greater than the supply; resulting in many underpaid and overworked employees. Still, that's not to say you shouldn't go after what you want; it just means you must vigilantly prepare and present your case in the smartest and most confident way possible.

There are several steps to take before confronting your boss that will help ensure you're as prepared as necessary. Even then there's no guarantee your request will be granted, but having your ducks in a row before marching into his or her office may make all the difference in the outcome.

Build your case.

Simply "wanting" a raise is not usually enough to land one. Giving specific reasons why you're worthy of a pay increase will up your chances of getting one. Are you contributing to the company beyond what is reflected in your pay? Are you underpaid compared to the market in your city? Have you gone without a raise longer than you were promised? Start building your case by determining your reasons first.

Collect all relevant information.

Don't assume your boss knows how awesome your work performance is – you must show him! This is the time to blow your own horn by pointing out just how valuable you are by presenting any documented details: praiseworthy emails from fellow employees and clients, sales and projects whose success you directly impacted, cost and savings analysis or any streamlining you're responsible for, etc. Now's the time to pull it all together and "sell" yourself!

Research your obstacles.

This is important, so you'll be prepared in advanced to address objections your boss may have. What's the financial status of the company – is there money in the budget for raises? Timing can be everything – is it the time of year raises are handed out? Have there been recent layoffs? Do your homework, in order to be better prepared with possible solutions to any disputes your boss may have.

Have alternatives.

Not every raise comes in the form of actual money. If your monetary request gets refused, suggest other possible perks that would compensate for a raise. Additional time off, an annual bonus, tuition reimbursement, and stock options are examples of negotiating points you should be prepared to bring to the table. They may not equate to a fatter paycheck, but they beat walking out empty handed.

What if you get turned down?

Have a plan before you approach your boss. Will you stay or will you quit? Will you request a future meeting to discuss a raise in a few months? Will you ask for recommendations on how to land a raise? Whatever it may be, have a game plan ready that you can fall back on. And if quitting is the plan, make sure you have another job offer waiting in the wings.


No matter how prepared you feel, practice your pitch on someone you trust, and who will play the devil's advocate by presenting possible objections your boss may have. Practice until you feel confident with your presentation.

Schedule an appointment.

Never approach your boss unexpectedly, for that alone could abort your mission. Requesting a raise is a big deal and is something you never want to ask on the fly. It deserves your boss's utmost attention and focus, so schedule an appointment, which in itself, sends a message of importance to your boss. This is about business, so treat it accordingly.

And now for the asking.

Despite your racing heart and sweaty palms, approach your boss with all the confidence you can muster up. Be assertive, direct, and unwavering in your presentation, which, again, sends a message that you're serious about and worthy of a raise. Aim to keep the dialogue going by not backing your boss into a corner, which could easily result in a refusal. Regardless of your presentation, a raise may not be in your immediate future, but that doesn't mean it never will be. Keep in mind the value of a healthy work relationship between you and your boss, and should you get turned down, handle it with pride and composure, which will say volumes about how fortunate the company is to have you.

If it were a perfect world, everyone's boss would notice and appreciate his work performance, pay accordingly, and never give him reason to ask for a raise. However, since not too many of us live in that world, we're often forced to take care of ourselves by asking for a pay increase. Preparing your best case will only raise your chances, and make your boss realize you're a valuable company asset he wants to hold onto. So, gentlemen, believe in yourself and have a presentation to match. Hopefully, the fruits of your labor will reflect in your next paycheck.

by Aaron Marino

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