How To Ask For A Raise, According To The Professionals

Timing matters -- and these approaches work.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a raise?

We asked employment experts and coaches for some tips on how to ask for, negotiate, and actually get yourself a nice fat addition to your salary.

Keep your expectations realistic, and do some research first

Most annual raises are between 1 percent and 5 percent of your salary. A survey by human resources consultancy Aon Hewitt found that many companies planned to set annual raises at 3 percent of base salaries in 2018, according to The Washington Post, giving low performers a smaller bump and star performers more of a hike.

Nobody’s life is going to change dramatically due to their annual raise alone; it basically keeps up with inflation.

For a more substantial salary jump, you may need to switch jobs, either moving within your current company to a role with more responsibility or finding a new position somewhere else. It is fair to expect additional compensation if you take on more responsibility in-house, said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

Just don’t jump the gun. Haefner told HuffPost that the first thing to do is research salary trends for similar job titles in your city before knocking on your boss’ door.

“Align your request with the company’s financial trajectory”

Remember that raises are about retention, not reward

No one is going to give you a raise because you want, need or even “deserve” one, said Day Merrill of 2BDetermined, a career coaching company. A salary increase may acknowledge an employee’s contributions from the past several months, but its most important function is to retain talent the organization needs in the coming year.

“Connect the dots for your manager to demonstrate how the value you have created in the past is a preview of the higher levels of contribution you are ready, willing and able to make in 2018,” she said.

Truth is, your bargaining power peaks in the narrow window after a job offer is made and before you accept it, Merrill said. That’s when the company has tested the waters and is convinced you’re the best candidate for the job. It probably doesn’t want to reopen the job search process, so it may be more flexible.

Show your value with hard numbers, not platitudes

If you want to show your accomplishments, speak in specifics. Haefner said you need to share examples of projects you completed and how your efforts positively affected the company or helped your team meet goals.

When you say you “increased traffic,” include by how much and the tracking source. If you “raised sales,” put a dollar sign or percentage on it.

Practice in the mirror

Ted Leonhardt, a negotiations counselor and coach, recommended making the following pledge to yourself: “I will recognize that negotiations make me anxious. That negotiations make all but the most practiced negotiator anxious. I will remember that I am not a coward, that I’m not inept. I will recognize that I am a person with feelings.”

Once you’ve boosted your self-confidence and are in control of your body, he said, you should “prepare for your next negotiation by making a list of your accomplishments just before you enter the encounter.”

It’s not just about the ask, it’s also about showing what you are worth.

“Ask yourself, ‘What does the boss want, need, fear, prefer or considers a priority?’”

Timing is everything

If the desks on either side of you belonged to people who were let go last month, it may not be the best time to ask for a raise. Similarly, walking into your boss’ office the day after the release of a dismal quarterly report makes you look out of touch, according to

“Align your request with the company’s financial trajectory,” advises The Balance. Salary budgets are set far in advance of one-on-one performance review meetings, so Liz Ryan of Forbes suggests making your request three months before your annual review.

While you’re at it, try for a bonus

Raises are permanent salary hikes that get compounded over time. This year’s 2 percent hike will grow next year’s 3 percent raise. Bonuses, on the other hand, are one-time lump sums that are not renewable.

Sometimes employers don’t want to raise an employee’s base salary but might be willing to pay a one-time bonus either in cash or stock. Ken Abosch, who leads Aon’s compensation business, said you should ask about getting a bonus when you ask for a raise.

“Most organizations are providing bonuses to employees at all levels of the organization and it should be part of the pay for performance process,” he told HuffPost.

Practice interest-based negotiations

In a traditional negotiation, each side does what it can to maximize its gains or minimize its losses. It’s pretty much the “my way or the highway” approach.

Interest-based negotiation is different, and makes asking for a raise as much about keeping the boss happy as it is about you and your accomplishments.

“Ask yourself, ‘What does the boss want, need, fear, prefer or considers a priority?’” advises Victoria Pynchon, co-founder of She Negotiates consulting and training. Then craft your pitch in those terms: Make it about why giving you more money is in your boss’ best interests, not that your rent just went up and you haven’t had a vacation in three years despite the fact you tripled sales on your team.

Use a bully boss to your advantage

If you have a difficult boss, it may encourage you to learn that Pynchon’s favorite kind of boss is the bully boss. They make it easier to engage in an interest-based negotiation.

“They wear what motivates them on their sleeve,” she told HuffPost.

When pressed for an example, Pynchon used President Donald “You’re Fired” Trump. “He primarily seeks validation,” she said.

“You wouldn’t mention your needs or say you ‘deserve’ anything,” she said. “You don’t use words like ‘fairness’ or ‘justice’ because that causes bully bosses to just dig their heels in.”

Instead, cater your pitch to your boss and make it about how you can deliver what he or she really wants.

If you were Steve Bannon and wanted to stay in the White House, you might say something like, ‘My continued employment by you in the White House gives you even greater legitimacy,’” Pynchon said. Clearly, Bannon didn’t read this advice.

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