Want A Bigger Salary? Here’s How To Ask For A Raise (And Get One)

In my entire career, I’ve asked for a raise a grand total of once. 

The one and only time I raised the possibility of me getting more money, which I thought I deserved, I was met with something close to hostility, like I was lucky enough to be paid what I was earning. 

Was I being greedy? Acting entitled? That’s how I walked away feeling. 

It left a bad taste in my mouth and I never asked for a raise again — there or anywhere else.


Asking for money is uncomfortable for a lot of people — it’s an awkward subject so they tend to avoid it. 

I’ve lent friends money and never asked for it back, for some reason fearing they’d think I was cheap for wanting what they owed me. 

Was I projecting my own insecurities onto them? Probably. 

But if I can’t ask someone I’m comfortable with, how on earth can I summon the courage to ask a boss?

Women And The Wage Gap

Not surprisingly, women are less likely to ask for a raise.

Fast Company reported that women are 19% less likely to ask for more money than men.

“The number of women either not asking or not getting raises further skews the wage gap between male and female workers, which seemed to be trending in the right direction pre-COVID-19. 

“Right now, the average national pay-disparity numbers indicate that it will take American female workers until March 24 this year to earn the same amount of money that men did performing the same work over the course of 2020. Some estimates suggest that it will take 40 years to close the gender pay gap.”

Who Did/Didn’t Ask For A Raise

Glassdoor partnered with the Harris Poll to ask nearly 1,500 employed U.S. adults about pay raises, bonuses, and/or cost-of-living increases in the next 12 months. 

“Sixty-five percent said they didn’t ask for a raise during the pandemic but of those, nearly three-quarters (73%) of women didn’t ask for a raise as compared to just 58% of men. That’s despite the fact that a quarter of U.S. workers took a pay cut over the last year.”

When To Ask For A Raise

According to The Cut, there is a blueprint on how and when to ask for a raise. 

“As nervous as you might feel about asking for a raise, remember that it’s a much less big deal for your boss. They deal with salaries all the time, and the subject isn’t going to feel nearly as weighty or fraught to her as it does to you,” says Alison Green, a workplace advice columnist for The Cut. 

“And assuming your manager is even a little bit reasonable or has any previous experience managing people, they know it’s normal for people to ask for a raise.

“They’re not likely to think, ‘What an outrageous request,’ or ‘How gauche — Jane is obviously just in this for the money!’ Unless you work somewhere truly dysfunctional, it’s understood that you work for money. This is okay.”

Green states that even if you don’t get a “yes,” you’re not rocking the boat by asking for a raise. 

“As long as (a) you’re not asking for an amount that’s wildly out of sync with the market for your work, and (b) you have a track record of strong work. You aren’t likely to fall out of favor simply because you asked to revisit your compensation,” she says. 

“Think of it this way: A raise is recognition that you’re now contributing at a higher level than when your salary was last set. A raise isn’t a favor or a gift; it’s a way for employers to pay fair market value for your work and to keep you around, because otherwise you’re eventually going to want to find a different job that does pay you competitively.

“That means it’s in your manager’s best interest to know when you’ve begun to think your work is worth more!”

That sounds relatively reasonable, so when is the right time to ask?


Green advises that when broaching the subject of a pay raise, keep in mind that your boss is a person with emotions — they might be having a hard time or just a bad day, and you should steer clear of the topic on these occasions.  

But if you’re doing great work and being praised for it, that would be a good time to bring it up with your manager. 

“Some companies will revisit your salary every year on their own, often tied to performance reviews, but plenty won’t bring it up on their own, in which case you’ll need to figure out when to broach it yourself,” she says. 

“In most cases, if it’s been a year or more since your salary was last set, and if you’ve been doing excellent work during that time, it’s reasonable to ask to revisit your pay now.”

Be mindful of your company’s schedule as well — your employer’s fiscal year and budget process. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Bankrate (@bankrate)

“Once you know when that happens, plan to initiate the conversation with your boss at least a month or two before that formal process begins,” she says. 

“If you wait until decisions on raises have already been made, it might be too late for them to get changes made.”

Prepare Before You Ask

“Once you have a good idea of the going rate for your work, factor in your understanding of your own employer’s salary structure, too,” Green advises. 

“Some employers adhere to rigid policies around how large a pay increase anyone can get at one time, or rarely give anyone more than a 5 percent raise. Others have been known to be much more generous. It’s useful to know how your company generally handles raises so that you know what’s likely to be possible.”

The Meeting 

Dun dun dun … now you have to actually ask for that raise. What do you say?

“People often think that they’ll need to make a detailed presentation about why they deserve more money, but most of the time your request can be fairly brief,” warns Green. 

“You do want to touch on why you think you’ve earned a raise — i.e., that your responsibilities and/or the level of your contributions has increased — but you don’t need to walk in with a PowerPoint and pages of notes. 

She advises people to go with these approaches: 

I really appreciate the opportunities you’ve given me for greater responsibilities, like X and Y. I’ve been getting great results in those areas over the last year and have exceeded the goals we’d created. Could we talk about adjusting my salary to reflect this higher level of contribution?”

“I’m hoping we can talk about my salary. It’s been a year since my last raise, and I’ve taken on a number of new responsibilities since then. I’m managing all our copywriters and was even able to smooth out that long-running issue with the design team, which ended up saving us a ton of time in the last few months. I think things are going really well, and I’d like to talk about increasing my salary to reflect this new work.”

Be Ready To Hear “No” Or “We’ll See” 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Lady of Countenance (@ladyofcountenance)

A “no” can feel crushing, but you have to be realistic that it’s not always going to go your way. 

But Green says to not let it get you too down — just because it’s not an instant “yes” doesn’t mean it won’t happen down the road. 

“If your boss doesn’t give you a firm yes and instead says she’ll think about it or will get back to you, that’s fine!” she says. 

“Lots of managers won’t say yes on the spot. But if you get a ‘maybe,’ make sure you’re clear on what next steps are. It’s okay to say something like, ‘Could I plan to check back with you when we meet on the 20th?’ 

“Alternately, if your boss is generally good about following up on things, you might just go with a simple, ‘Thanks! I appreciate it.’”

But if you get a firm “no,” it’s a good opportunity to find out if there is potential for a raise in the future. 

You can ask what it would take to get a raise — and a decent boss will probably lay out what you could do to make that happen. 

“It could be anything from ‘manage your work more autonomously’ to ‘stop alienating all your co-workers’ (ok, wow)  to ‘you’re at the top of the range for your position, so you’d have to be promoted to earn more money here,’” says Green. 

From there, you can figure out if you’re on the right track or if a track is even in front of you. 

Armed with that information, you can decide if it’s worth it to stay at your current position without more money — or if you want to seek out another job that pays more. 

View this post on Instagram



A post shared by The Money Manual (@the_money_manual)


How did you ask for your raise? Have any tips? Share with us below!

For More Articles On Women’s Issues, Read These:

You And Your Partner Should Be Talking About Money. Here’s Why

SCOTUS Upheld Texas’ Abortion Law. Now, Women Are Terrified.

Join the Conversation