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The Right Time To Ask For A Raise — And Actually Get It

Nervous? Here's everything you need to know.

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Woman walking up stairs made of dollar bill stacks
Margeaux Walter
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Just 37 percent of workers ask for a raise, according to a study by PayScale, a company that analyzes compensation data. However, 70 percent of those who ask get some sort of increase: 39 percent receive the amount requested, and 31 percent get less, the survey found.

Nervous about asking? Here’s how and when to do it.

Do your research

Know the going rate for your position, and be able to back up your request with facts and figures, says Claire Randall, the human resources director at Heat Pump Source in London.

Offer a broad salary range

If you’re asked for your salary expectations during an interview process, it’s best to offer a broad salary range, according to Russell Ridgeway of Lensa, a job-searching platform. That’s because if your salary expectation is too low, the hiring manager is likely to assume that you don’t place a high enough value on your contribution — and they may eliminate your candidacy. If your salary expectation is too high, they may eliminate you if they have other candidates with more reasonable salary asks. You can always tell them that you’re flexible, but if the HR manager is overwhelmed, they may eliminate you to make the recruitment process easier for them. So the best response, Ridgeway advises, is to offer a large range — which you can negotiate when you get further into the process.

Don’t make the first move

If a company asks you what type of package you’d be willing to accept, you should explain that you’re looking for a competitive salary with a benefits package. Request that the company submit a detailed offer that you can review. This way, you aren’t setting a precedent and can always ask for more, Ridgeway says.

Take everything into consideration

The salary isn’t the only thing you should be negotiating. If your potential employer doesn’t want to budge on the salary, you can also negotiate a hybrid working environment, stocks, material perks, days off and more, Ridgeway says.

Explain — clearly — why you deserve a raise

Ashley Fernandez, a career coach and CEO of Ashley Marie Coaching, a career development and personal growth company in New Jersey, asks: What have you done that has gone above and beyond your job description? What projects have you completed? What initiatives have you taken on since your last review? What projects do you intend to work on or initiate this year? Focus on your value and two to three major achievements, along with any support data you have, she says.

Thank them regardless of the outcome

You can and should ask again, as often as you feel that you’ve earned a raise. Your manager will likely keep track of your performance and progress, and may be more likely to give you a raise if you’re polite and have been doing your best and meeting or exceeding expectations, says Catherine Castro, the senior HR and recruitment manager at 20four7VA, a virtual assistant service company.

Be professional

You may not get the response you were hoping for, but thank your boss for their time and be prepared to listen to their thoughts and arguments about why they might not be able to give you the raise you’re requesting. Also be prepared to negotiate, Castro says.

Ask every year or two

It’s totally OK to ask for a raise every year or two, depending on how well you’ve performed and how much the cost of living has increased, Randall says. If you’ve had a great year where you’ve contributed significantly to the company’s bottom line, you may be able to ask for a raise more often.

Request a specific amount

If you’re not sure how much to request, aim high, Randall says. It’s easier to negotiate down than it is to negotiate up, but you should always be prepared to compromise. “Your boss may not be able to give you the exact amount you want, but they may be able to meet you in the middle,” she says.

Don’t make demands or threaten to leave your job

This will only put your boss in a tough spot and could lead to them refusing to give you a dime. Avoid being too pushy, and don’t assume that your boss owes you something, Castro says.

Don’t go into the meeting unprepared

“This is probably the number 1 mistake people make when asking for a raise,” Randall says. She suggests creating a solid plan that clearly explains why you deserve more money.

Don’t ask during layoffs

Be considerate of the timing, Fernandez says. If your company recently had layoffs or is facing revenue challenges — or if you very recently received a raise — then the timing may not work in your favor, she says.