Is This Your First Time Asking for a Raise?

Are you preparing to ask for a salary increase? Asking for what you deserve and having a frank discussion about money may be outside your comfort zone, whether you’re early in your career or a seasoned industry veteran. Here is some advice to guide your preparation and discussion with your boss.

First, a list of “don’ts”:

  • Ask too soon. If you haven’t been with the company or in your role long enough, you may have yet to prove your value.
  • Put up your dukes in anticipation of a fight. A conversation about salary should be an open discussion, not one that involves tension or argument.
  • Start the conversation by complaining about your current salary.
  • Compare your salary to that of a peer and present that reasoning in your conversation with your boss.
  • Threaten to leave the company if you don’t receive an increase.
  • Act out or show visible frustration after the conversation.

Preparation is key. Take stock of your contributions and create a thorough, well-written report, even if it’s for your eyes only. Then, list reasons you feel a salary increase is in order. Do your homework by consulting mentors and confidants, practicing your discussion points, and researching the typical salary for your position using sites like,, and

Timing is everything. Be sure to approach the conversation with your boss at the right time. Is your company performing well against targets? Are you exceeding your targets? Did you just complete a successful project? Is client and colleague feedback about you at an all-time high? Look for “signals” that will help you build your case for a raise.

Promotion vs. Salary Increase

Here’s another key point to consider: when evaluating your business case for a raise, take stock of the degree to which you’ve taken on many stretch assignments, greater responsibilities, or a more senior role to that of your peers within your department. What you’ll want to analyze is whether your contributions have actually aligned over an extended period of time with a role of greater significance within the team. Are you already doing the work of the role above yours? Or, can you make a case for the value you’re providing and the recommendation to create a more senior role on the team?

If so, what you may want to propose to your boss is a promotion or change in title instead of only a salary increase. Promotions often equate to greater compensation increases than those of a regular raise.

More Than Money

Looking beyond the paycheck, here are a few other things you may also consider asking for:

Placement on a Key Project: If you’ve identified a project that will allow you to up your value and contributions within the company, ask to be part of the project team. Placement on key projects or taking on extra stretch assignments ultimately puts you in a position to be considered for more money or a promotion down the road.

Flex Time: This could consist of compressed work weeks, reduced work schedule, job sharing, or staggered start and end times.

Vacation Time: If you’re an asset to the company and you’ve been with the company a number of years and/or hold a higher-level position, asking for more vacation days is absolutely acceptable.

For more guidance on how to ask for a raise, here’s great advice from inspirational businesswomen.

Have you asked for more money or benefits? Tell me what worked for you! I’d love to know.

Next week, we’ll talk about a leadership topic that you may have put off too long: Firing that difficult employee.

– Jackie Simon

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