As women, we are often guilty of not asking for a raise when we know we truly deserve one. We’re also guilty of not negotiating our compensation offers when we get a new job. But by not asking for more, we’re leaving behind hundreds of thousands of dollars of lifetime earnings.
In an uncontrolled gender pay gap, women make just 81 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. Women of color (specifically African American/Black, Hispanic, and Native American women) are even more disadvantaged, making only 75 cents per dollar respectively. More women are dropping out of the workforce because they are the "secondary earner."
If you’re overdue for an increase in your pay, you can choose to react in one of three ways:
- Complain about not getting a raise.
- Think about asking for a raise.
- Actually, ask for a raise.
Clearly, the third option is the best choice. It's the one most likely to bring about the outcome you want. But nine times out of ten, it’s not the one you’ll choose.
The reasons for not choosing the third option are varied. They can range from being unsure of how to bring up the subject of a raise to being afraid of your boss’ reaction and simply feeling overwhelmed by the general process. I totally get that the thought of asking for and receiving a raise can be daunting, but believe me, it is not impossible. Who knows, maybe you asking for a raise could be life-changing.
How to ask for a raise and get it
Here are six super easy steps I share with women on how to ask for a raise and negotiate salary increases of $5,000, $10,000, and even $25,000.
1. Be strategic about your timing
Once you’ve worked up the courage to ask for a raise, you may be tempted to march into your boss’ office on the spot and demand more money. Before you do that, though, you should know certain situations are more conducive to positive results than others. Knowing how to ask for a raise properly can increase your chances of actually getting a raise.
For example, when you’ve:
- Completed a huge accomplishment at work
- Received a promotion
- Conducted market research that shows you’re underpaid
- Been offered a job with a new company
Situations like these give you leverage and make it more likely that you’ll get a “yes” response. That's why it's great to highlight them when you're trying to figure out how to ask for a raise. You may be tempted to wait until your next annual salary discussion to express dissatisfaction with your pay. But this isn’t necessarily the best time, as money decisions have most likely already been made.
Instead, take the lead on when the conversation will happen. Be intentional about not only what you’ll say but also when you’ll say it.
2. Do your research
Are you wondering how to negotiate a raise? Do your research and understand the industry averages for your role in your location and the associated cost of living. Approaching the salary conversation with specific examples will dramatically boost the odds of your boss agreeing to your request for more money.
Sites like glassdoor.com and payscale.com have completely changed the game on conducting salary research. With a few simple clicks, it’s possible to find the average pay for virtually any role at any company.
Knowing how to negotiate a raise and being armed with information to support your request for a higher salary is the single most important aspect of the salary negotiation process. It often heavily influences the outcome in a positive way.
3. Get on your boss’ level
If your boss usually prefers a more laid-back style, now isn’t the time to suddenly get super formal. Does she prefer to have meetings in the late afternoon? Don’t schedule your salary conversation at 9 am. If she likes a detailed agenda outlining meeting topics ahead of time, be sure you give her one.
Switching the style of communication you and your boss usually have can cause confusion and put her in an uncomfortable headspace. She may be less receptive to the information you present to her. Don’t get trapped in the belief that you have to be more stuffy and formal in your approach because the subject is money. How do you and your boss normally interact? Go with that.
4. Be straightforward and keep it strictly business
How do you get a raise? Avoid the urge to start speaking in code or beating around the bush. Although it can be challenging (due to your nerves getting the best of you), the best approach is to be clear and to the point.
Think of it as a business transaction — present your case and why you deserve a raise. Know your professional worth and capitalize on it. Talk about your accomplishments so far, what you’ve created or improved upon, and the success that your work has driven.
Being straightforward also helps keep your emotions in check. Emotions like: anxiety, anger, nervousness, and fear can sabotage your efforts to have a constructive conversation about your money goals and expectations. Create bulleted speaking points that are direct and to the point. Knowing how to negotiate a raise can help you keep the conversation on track and avoid getting sidetracked.
5. Have a clear call to action
Often the best salary conversations lose steam at the most important part — the end. No matter how well everything has gone, don’t undermine all of your hard work by not making the actual ask for more money. What would you like your boss to do at the end of the conversation? Make sure your crystal clear on what you're asking for, so there is no room for doubt or uncertainty in your boss’ mind about what it is you want. A key part of how to negotiate a raise is to talk about the amount of money you want before ending the conversation.
Going after your next raise doesn’t have to be a scary or convoluted process. Although it may not feel like it, having the money conversation with your boss is just like having any other career-related conversation. The key is to be confident, strategic, prepared, and straightforward.
If you lack confidence, you may want to consider asking for a raise by letter or email. This way, you can outline your case without the pressure of speaking directly to your boss first. Not sure an asking for a raise letter is for you? Check out our template below to see how to ask for a raise by email.
6. Ask what you can do to be qualified for a raise
If you're not sure your employer considers you qualified for a raise yet, then ask your manager what you can do to be considered for a pay raise. You can ask what additional tasks or responsibilities you can take on to make you a further asset to the company and qualify you for an increase in your salary.
Things you can do to help you be considered for a raise are:
- Volunteer to cover shifts when your company is short-staffed
- Be a team player
- Do additional tasks without being asked (careful not to overstep your bounds, though)
- Always be on time
- Don't be absent unless absolutely necessary
- Have a good attitude
These are things your employer will appreciate and will make you a "valued" employee.
When to ask for a raise
Knowing when to ask for a raise is a key step in the process. As we covered before, you need to be strategic with your timing to give you the best odds of getting a raise. To plan accordingly, it's a good idea to do your research to determine what others are being paid in your industry. Combine that with your recent accomplishments to come up with an ask. Next, you need to determine when would be the best time to ask for a raise. There are a few perfect times to do this.
After performance reviews
Depending on the company, you may have a performance review quarterly, every six months, or annually. Either way, if you get a stellar performance review, this can be when to ask for a raise. Why is this a good time? Because it is fresh in your employers' mind that you are an asset to the company, and that helps your chances of successfully getting a raise.
Again, timing is key, and asking for a raise shouldn't be blurted out unexpectedly. You will want to ask to have a meeting with your manager to discuss it in the near future to show professionalism and ensure that you are prepared to present your case on why you deserve a raise.
Ask when salary increases are decided
Sometimes salary increases may be considered around the time of performance reviews, but some companies may have a dedicated time-frame for salary increases. To ensure you don't miss the allotted time, ask your boss when they review salaries for increases. This way, you will be able to approach your employer at the right time to ask for a raise.
To know when to ask for a raise, you need to keep in mind the amount of time you've been at your job. Some suggest not to ask for a raise more than once a year, however in some cases, you may be eligible for a pay increase after six months. Remember you want to be performing well, be punctual, and be a dedicated employee. Having an excellent work ethic will give you the competitive edge you need to be qualified to increase your salary.
How to ask for a raise email example
You may find it less intimidating by putting your request in writing. An email or letter can be a way to initially ask to meet with your manager to discuss a pay increase. This can be where you make your case on why you are qualified for a raise. When writing your email or letter, be sure to make it professional with a proper greeting, a formal closing, and outlining your case in detail but not overwhelmingly long either.
Here's a letter/email example for your reference:
Subject: Meeting Request-Your Name
Dear (Insert Manager's Name),
I am thankful to be employed with ABC Inc. as the E-commerce Manager. Over the last three years, my responsibilities have increased, and I have taken the initiative with added duties to increase sales online with various platforms. Due to my high quality of work and dedication to the company, I would like to respectfully ask for a meeting to discuss my salary.
Since my last salary review, I have taken on additional responsibilities that have allowed me to become a further asset to the company. For example, I willingly managed all of the social media platforms and created advertisements to increase our customer base. Last year, I sold over $100,000 in products on our e-commerce platforms. I've had no absences in the last six months and have volunteered to cover shifts when we were short-staffed.
I believe my continued contributions and excellent work ethic qualifies me for an increase in salary. I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss a pay raise.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
First & Last Name
555 South Street
Harrisonburg, VA. 22802
Learning how to ask for a raise by email can help take the stress out of asking directly for a meeting. This can keep you focused on your case and prepare you for what to cover in your upcoming meeting.
Asking for a raise letter
You can also use this template when asking for a raise more formally by letter. Remember to keep it professional and detailed but brief enough to stay on point to request a meeting to review your salary. If you're searching for how to ask for a raise easily, asking for a meeting in writing can help you to display your case professionally without getting too nervous as you search for words.
Don’t let fear stop you from earning more
Fear is the number one reason why we don’t ask for raises or negotiate our offers, but what are we really afraid of? The worst thing that could possibly happen is that the request is rejected, and that’s it. Then you can make a decision to land a higher paying job if you choose too.
Improve your mindset and come up with a plan on how to make your request. Practice your spiel in front of the mirror, type it up and read it out loud and then ask yourself, “what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen?”. Understanding that your request for a raise is not a life or death matter will help you put things in perspective and put your fear back in its place.
Asking for a raise or negotiating a better compensation offer might seem difficult or intimidating, but it really isn't that hard. Remember, you’re simply asking for what you’re worth.