How to Ask for a Raise: Tips and Strategies To Get Up to 20% Increase

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Asking for a raise isn’t really a fun experience and can be pretty stressful.

But you also have to remember that it’s one of the easier ways to make more money for something you already do.

During the last ten years, I’ve been both an employee and a boss, looking after a big team of people, and I know exactly what techniques you should be using to get the raise you want!

Typically your company will budget for your salary increase at the beginning of the financial year. With the average raise usually set around inflation (a recent survey says that US salary budgets are projected to increase by an average of 4.6 percent in 2022), if you want to get a bigger raise, you will have to work hard at it.

Since 2008, I averaged a 15% pay increase year-on-year at my job (including some 20% jumps due to promotions). That’s up to 3 times higher than average!

And no! You don’t have to keep jumping from company to company to get the raise you want.

How do I know?

Because I achieve that by staying in the same company!

Was I lucky? Is my company unique?

Not really. I have many examples in my company and other companies of people in similar roles that got stuck in their own salaries.

If you don’t want to be one of them, keep reading to find out the best ways to ask for a raise!

I am going to share everything I learned with you!

The real impact of not getting the raise you deserve

It’s easy to say: “My boss will just give me a good pay raise,” “I can’t be bothered to fight for it,” or “If I don’t get what I want, I might just find something to do on the side to make a bit more money,” but do you really know how much difference an extra 10% a year can make in the long term?

Let me show you two examples:

Paula and Kirsty both started to work in the same company at the same time, with the same salary: $40,000 a year.

Paula has always been proactive, worked as hard as possible, knew her real value, and was always prepared to show her boss how much she achieved at the end of each project.

She always spent a few hours preparing for her annual review to present her achievements to her boss, and between pay raises and promotions, she averaged a 13% increase, with three promotions, in which she managed to get a 20% pay raise.

YearRaise %Salary
Year 1$40,000
Year 210%$44,000
Year 320%$52,800
Year 410%$58,080
Year 510%$63,888
Year 620%$76,666
Year 710%$84,332
Year 810%$92,765
Year 920%$111,318
Year 1010%$122,450
Total earned$746,300

Kirsty has always worked as hard as Paula but was less keen to show her boss her achievement. She was grateful to have her job, and as much as she wanted to earn more, she was worried that she would upset her boss by asking for more money. Plus, if she was really worth more money, her boss would just pay her more, right?

She also wasn’t sure if she wanted to take on more responsibilities…Therefore, she never asked for a promotion. Her boss seemed pretty generous, always giving her a 3.5% raise, a bit over inflation.

And after ten years, she finally got a promotion and a -she thought- significant 10% increase.

Happy days!

YearRaise %Salary
Year 1$40,000
Year 23.5%$41,400
Year 33.5%$42,849
Year 43.5%$44,349
Year 53.5%$45,901
Year 63.5%$47,507
Year 73.5%$49,170
Year 810.0%$54,087
Year 93.5%$55,980
Year 103.5%$57,940
Total earned$479,183

So both Paula and Kirsty started their career making $40,000. They both worked hard, but Paula earned $746,300, and Kirsty only $479,183.

A staggering $267,116 more!

WhoEarnings over ten years

And why? She knew what she was worth and wasn’t afraid to discuss it with her boss!

So, stop worrying and get ready to ask for the raise you deserve!

How to ask for a raise and increase your salary

Of course, everyone can book a meeting with the boss and ask for a raise.

But if you actually want to get one, you have to formulate a strategy for your salary negotiation, educate yourself, be prepared for what you will say, and do all the hard work ahead of asking for it.

Dos & Don’ts

Here is a list of dos and don’ts you need to keep in mind when asking for more money.

1. Do: Always over-deliver

Before you walk into your boss’ office saying, “I want a raise,” you must ask yourself if you deserve it. There is no point in putting yourself in a stressful situation by asking for more money if you aren’t a hard worker and have exceeded your company’s expectations in your current position.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • If you were your boss, would you be happy with the work you are doing?
  • Do you get things done without being reminded?
  • Do you always help others and have a positive attitude?
  • Are you constantly learning by talking to more senior employees?
  • What are you bringing to the company that other people in your same position aren’t?

If you can confidently answer “yes” to most of these questions…what are you waiting for?

It’s time to get that raise you deserve!

But why would your boss pay you a higher salary if you don’t think you are your best at work?

2. Do: Demonstrate your value

If you want to get a raise, you need to go above and beyond what you are expected to do and always take on additional responsibilities.

During the year, ask your boss how you can excel. Ask if there are any other tasks you can take on or if you can help your co-workers with other projects. Understand your job and ask questions about how you can improve.

Doing your job and working many hours isn’t enough to guarantee you a raise.

Most people do that!

You must demonstrate how you’ve added value to your team and organization. Identify how you have created efficiencies or how you have helped other members of the team. If possible, try to include numbers.


“We estimated we would need 15 people for the job, but thanks to my organization and management skills, we accomplish the same result at high standards with 10 people saving the company $100,000.”

Don’t wait for your annual review to share your accomplishments. If you sit in your little corner without sharing your wins, your boss will never know your real value. Gently remind your boss of what you have done during the year and how that action has helped the company.

By the time you ask for a raise, your boss will have a much more positive view of your value and will be prepared to give you a raise and possibly even a promotion!

3. Do your homework: how much to ask

One of the most important things to know if you want to get a raise is to find out how much to ask for a raise.

This means you need to discover how much your market rate is.

This is where things get a bit interesting, and you need to become a bit of a detective.

The first port of call for this is usually doing some salary research to determine the industry averages for people in your current role.

You can use free tools for this, like GlassDoor salary estimate tool.

But you have to remember that these tools don’t take into consideration the following:

  • The current market – is your job in demand right now? Is your industry going through tough times?
  • The details of the local market – how much are people really paid by companies in your area? What are the average salaries?
  • Experience – how much experience do you really have compared to others in your company?

There is no point in looking at how much someone gets paid in LA if you work in Toronto!

The worst thing you can do is not know the correct pay range.

One person on my team, during her annual review, just said to me:

“I’ve done my research and looked for people in a similar job as mine and I should be paid between $60,000 and $80,000.”

Now, the average salary for that position in the company was between $35,000 and $50,000, so, to this day, I still don’t know where she got those figures from.

All I wanted to do was laugh in her face (of course, I didn’t! – I just explained the reality of the situation and gave her something more realistic to work towards…). 

My tips for not ending up asking for something silly are:

  • Ask the company’s recruiter what the salary range is for your position. If you feel uncomfortable asking in your company, get in touch with recruiters of similar companies and ask for an exact number. This is much more likely to give you something real to work with. Something that you will be able to back up with your boss.
  • Be reasonable. It is improbable that your boss will agree to a pay raise over 5-15% unless you have done something outstanding, you are asking for a promotion, or you are really underpaid.

BONUS TIP: If you are underpaid, bring your research to your boss and how you got to that conclusion. I always tried to pay people what they are worth, but even the fairer boss can sometimes overlook someone’s salary. Every time someone stated their case with reason, I always did my best to get them what they deserved, as good employees are a value to the company and hard to come by.

4. Don’t make the request about you and why you need it

Never ever tell your boss why you need a raise. The conversation ALWAYS needs to be about why you deserve it.

These are 2 real-life examples of requests I received:

“I put an offer on a new house and I need more money for the down-payment.”

What was going on in my head: “I really don’t care if you are buying a house you cannot afford…You should just think about that before you make an offer.”

“Regarding my raise, this was a figure that my partner and I discussed after examining our financial position with our second child on the way…”

What was going on in my head: “If you can’t budget your life, I am not really sure how you are going to be helpful for the company. Also, I don’t think I care how much your partner wants you to make….”

I am sure I don’t have to tell you these guys didn’t get the raise they wanted…Your boss will only consider giving you a raise based on your past year’s performance and what you have achieved for the company.

They really don’t care about your personal life…shocker!

If only I knew, I wouldn’t have asked for an extra $10,000 for my trip to the Galapagos next year, lol!

5. Don’t mention other colleagues’ salaries unless…

Never, ever, ever compare yourself to someone else.

Every time someone mentioned this to me, it never ended well!

If you really want to get a raise, the conversation needs to be about you:

  • Your achievement
  • Your experience
  • The value YOU bring to the company

Grace might be making more money than you, but:

  • Does she have more experience?
  • Has she achieved something you are not even aware of?
  • Does she have qualifications you don’t have?

Specifically, mentioning other people’s salaries makes you look greedy and like someone that gossips around.

I am not saying you shouldn’t use the information you have to your advantage. But it needs to be done the right way, using the best approach.

Again, 2 real-life examples:


“I have been here ages and Paul told me at the pub that he makes $10,000 more than I do. I want to make as much as he does because we have the same title!”

What was going on in my head: “Sure, why not? The problem is Paul has 5 years experience more than you do, he’s more reliable and has just delivered a project without me having to get involved in helping him at all. How does that compare to your awful performance this year?”


“I have worked really hard since I’ve joined the company. I am very skilled and organized, and although you are very supportive, I am very independent and always deliver amazing work, especially while working on the last two projects […]. Similar employees who do what I do in the company earn at least $10,000 more than me. Is there a reason for that?

What was going on in my head: “She’s got a strong case, my mistake…Mmm, I am going to have to find some money to give her.”

6. Don’t ask for a raise in an email

It’s always a good idea to make your request personal.

You will not be able to share all your achievements and judge your manager’s reaction in an email. It’ll also be harder for your manager to close the conversation too quickly without evaluating what you are saying. It’s much easier to dismiss your request in an email.

Asking for a meeting also shows your boss that you are serious about it.

If they are busy people (and most managers are), just drop them a line to ask when they have some time to discuss your performance.

When to ask for a raise: timing is everything!

You’ve made up your mind, you know exactly what you want, and you are ready to go and get it!

But when should you do it? Believe it or not, there is a right time and a bad time to ask for a raise!

Annual performance reviews

During your annual review, your boss is already evaluating your performance and how much you are worth to the company. This is the perfect opportunity to ask for a raise if you come prepared.

Also, make sure you familiarize yourself with the company’s standard practices. If they normally only give a pay increase during annual reviews, you are unlikely to get it at any other time.

After completing an important project or a big accomplishment

Have you just delivered a big project on time and under budget? Have you made a big sale or signed a deal with a major client? Exploit your recent accomplishments, and you might find yourself in the perfect position to get the raise you wanted!

If the company is expanding

If your company has just landed a big contract, is opening a new department, or has more work than usual, they’ll really need your experience. You can help train junior co-workers, manage a bigger project, and bring in more sales. Now it’s the perfect time to go for the money!

When your boss is in a good mood

People are only humans, yes, even your boss! If you are going to ask for a raise, make sure you do that when your boss is not having a bad day.

If you are aware of the company being under a lot of pressure and your boss being nervous, just wait for a couple of weeks until he/she seems happy and more relaxed.

The best day and time to ask for a raise

According to psychologists, if you want to ask for a raise, you should avoid Mondays. Managers tend to be more stressed on a Monday while they try to catch up on what needs to happen that week.

Morning (after coffee) also seems to be better than the afternoon.

According to the research, people tend to be more moral and make more ethical decisions in the morning.

Friday seems to be the best day of the week to ask for a raise, as your boss is probably looking forward to the weekend. But don’t wait until it is too late in the day; otherwise, your manager might be already with his/her mind out of the office and won’t consider your request seriously.

Best time overall to ask for a raise: Friday, mid-morning (11ish).

6 Top Strategies to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

You are finally in the meeting with your boss! The time has come to get the raise you always wanted.

But what should you say?

First of all, remember to stay positive and enthusiastic at all times. Start by saying what you enjoyed about your job last year, and stay focused on your end goal.

Always be clear during the conversation, and be confident! After all, you are here for a reason.

1. Be prepared: share your achievements

Write down on a piece of paper all the reasons why you deserve a raise. Be as specific as possible, and bring numbers into the conversation. Describe how you helped and trained other co-workers.

Remember, you have to demonstrate your value to the company.

2. Share your goals

Tell your boss what you would like to achieve in the coming months and how you plan to achieve it.

Any plans to improve the department’s performance and how you can help to get there and be a key player in the company? There is no point in talking about what the company could do better if you are not prepared to help get there.

Don’t expect your boss to have your career path laid down for you. Take the initiative and let your boss know what you want to achieve.

3. Be specific

Ask for a specific number. You need to go in knowing exactly what you want and your market value. And back your number up with what you have found out during your research.

For example:

“I would like you to consider an increase between $5,000 and $7,000. Based on what we discussed, and knowing that I am in the mid-range salary for my position, but I am performing at a senior level, I would love for you to consider increasing my current salary accordingly.”

4. Be committed

If you want to get the money you deserve, you need to show you care about the company. If it looks like your boss is not going to give you what you want, NEVER give an ultimatum or threat to leave.

You need to show you are passionate about your work, committed, and enjoyed facing new challenges on your latest projects.

You need to give the impression you are in for the long game, stick around, and contribute to the company with your skills. If your boss feels that you are prepared to leave for an extra $5k and move somewhere else, they’re unlikely to give you what you want.

5. Listen

After you made your case, take a deep breath and listen to your boss.

Really, listen.

Listen to feedback and what he/she has to say. Be keen to learn from what your manager has to tell you about your performance, keep your emotion under control, and take your time to think before you make any rushed decision.

6. Be patient

A decision for a raise could take days, even weeks. If the raise is above what was budgeted for, your boss will likely have to discuss it with other people in the company, which could take some time.

What to do if your boss says no

Wow, you’ve been through all this, and your boss says no?

Ask for feedback, and find out why you didn’t get the raise you wanted. Start a conversation about what it would take to get you to that salary level.

Find out why the company isn’t going to give you more money:

  • Do you need more years of experience? If so, in what areas and how can you gain the extra experience?
  • You don’t have the skills? What do you need to do to get them?
  • Is there any other task you can take on to get a raise?
  • Can you discuss a timeframe and what goals you need to reach to get there?
  • Budget is tight? If the company is going through a tough financial time, ask when it would be a good time to discuss your salary again.
Don’t leave until you know exactly how you can turn the no into a yes!

But also accept defeat. You now know the reasons and what you need to do to get there.

Please don’t be that annoying employee that keeps trying to get more money by wearing your boss down without any evidence for an hour.

If you are that person, stop it! Your boss hates talking to you!

So, did you get a raise?

Remember, if you are a good employee, you are worth a lot to your company. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth!

I hope these tips will help you as much as they helped me in the last 10 years!

Let me know if you got a raise in the comments below!

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  1. Money Media says:

    yeah ! DEFINITELY we need work on some points you mentioned.
    Thanks for sharing Sara 🙂


    1. Hey Stephen,
      You have to always remind your boss how much you are worth!
      Bosses are not just going to give money away without us asking for it 🙂
      Good luck!