How To Negotiate a Raise: 7 Steps To Help You Succeed

Updated June 9, 2023

If you've worked at a job for a while or feel you've exceeded your performance expectations, you might consider asking your employer for a raise. Negotiating a successful increase to your pay rate often requires confidence in the value you provide to your company and professionalism to have a productive, positive conversation with your employer. Understanding the steps you can take during this process can increase your chances of securing a raise.

In this article, we explain why professionals often ask for a raise, list seven steps you can follow to negotiate one and provide tips to help you respond professionally to your employer's decision.

Why do professionals ask for raises?

Many companies give scheduled or random raises to employees to reward their work ethic, production and loyalty or to respond to an increase in the cost of living. Some employers, though, may give raises infrequently or only as a response when an employee asks for one. If this is your experience, you might evaluate some common reasons people ask for raises to help you determine whether to start a negotiation. Here are a few reasons you might want to ask for a raise:

  • You've worked at the company for at least six months.

  • You don't have a performance review coming up soon or a raise schedule in place.

  • The company has reported strong earnings in its recent financial reports.

  • You've recently taken on more responsibility or started a new position.

  • Your work metrics consistently exceed your goals.

  • Your managers frequently rely on you to pick up work from other team members.

  • You received a high-paying offer from another company but don't want to leave your current role.

Related: How Often Should You Get a Raise? (With Tips)

How to negotiate a raise

Following these steps can increase your chances of receiving a pay increase after negotiating with your employer:

1. Research salary data for your position

Before you ask for a raise, consider learning what a normal salary range is for your position and your level of experience. If you're comfortable doing so, you could ask other people in your company who are in similar positions or have a similar amount of experience what they make. You can also do research online to find what the average salary is for your job and location. Ensure the raise you ask for is within the range of what people with your job and experience are making can improve your chances of earning it.

Related: How Much of a Raise Should I Ask For?

2. Consider the company's financial performance

Familiarizing yourself with the company's financials and performance over the past few quarters can help you determine whether it's growing and earning high profits. A company that's experiencing stagnation or decline may not be able to offer raises. This research also can guide your actual negotiation process. For example, if the company's growing but its growth has slowed, you might consider aiming for a lower raise than you would ask for if it were growing more quickly.

3. Reflect on your achievements

One of the best ways to convince your employer you deserve a raise is to highlight your specific accomplishments that helped the company achieve its goals. Doing this can help you demonstrate the value you bring to the team is worth the increased salary. This is especially true for positions that directly bring revenue into a company. If you're helping the company make money, you can argue it owes you a higher pay rate to compensate.

Related: Why I Deserve a Raise: 7 Reasons and How To Ask for One

4. Decide on your target range for the raise

Convincing your employer you deserve the raise is only the beginning of the process. Once they decide you deserve a raise, then you can negotiate the amount of the increase. Determining what range you'll accept can help you prepare for this part of the negotiation. Try to have your range start with the lowest amount you'd be happy with earning and end with the highest amount you think is reasonable to ask for, based on your research. If your employer agrees to give you a raise, you can reference this range as you negotiate the rate.

Besides a range of salary amounts, try to identify some other benefits you might accept instead of a raise or in combination with a smaller raise than you originally wanted. Employers may be reluctant to increase your salary but be willing to offer you other benefits. Having a list of alternative benefits can be useful if your employer rejects your request for a raise because, even though you may not get a raise, you might earn additional perks. Some benefits you might ask for include:

  • Additional paid time off

  • More flexibility in your schedule

  • Stock options

  • Remote workdays

5. Prepare your presentation

When you walk into the meeting, you want to be ready with a convincing narrative about why you deserve to get this raise. To keep your arguments organized, it's often helpful to structure your points as a presentation or sales pitch. Although you're not giving an actual presentation, preparing like you are can ensure you include the most important points and help you communicate more clearly.

You can bring notes with you to refer to, but you generally want to keep the negation more like a conversation. You can begin with an opening statement where you describe what you're asking for and why you deserve it in two or three sentences. Then, be prepared to respond to questions and counterarguments.

6. Practice negotiating with friends or family

Once you know the most important points you want to discuss with your employer and the amount you want to ask for, consider asking a friend or family member to practice the negotiation with you. If possible, pick someone who either has experience asking for a raise or is in a management position, so they can provide constructive feedback about how you can succeed. They also can give you advice on your body language, communication style and the facts you present to help you create a more compelling, comprehensive argument.

Related: How To Write a Raise Letter (With Template and Example)

7. Schedule your meeting

Timing often is important when asking for a raise because it can affect whether the company is willing or able to give you one. Getting the timing right also allows you to negotiate while your manager can focus on your discussion and is in the best possible. This can improve your chances of approval and receiving the amount you wanted. Here's what to consider when scheduling your meeting:

  • Time of the year: Generally, you want to ask for a raise when your company is doing well financially. It may also be ideal to ask shortly after you've completed a major project or accomplishment.

  • Day of the week: Consider trying to schedule your meeting for a day in the middle of the week to ensure you have a captive audience. On a Monday, trying to catch up from the weekend might preoccupy your employer, and at the end of the week, they might be eager to finish their tasks before the weekend.

  • Time of the day: Try to schedule your meeting for the middle of the day. Similar to the day of the week, this can ensure they're not still waking up or fatigued from a long workday, which can help them be more engaged with your discussion.

Related: How To Negotiate Your Salary (13 Tips With Examples)

Tips for responding if they say, "yes"

Even if an employer agrees to give you a raise, they may not offer you the amount you originally wanted. In this scenario, try to be ready to negotiate the actual number. Your employer likely has been through this process before, so they may anticipate you to negotiate the amount with them. Here are a few tips to make sure you walk out with a raise you are happy with:

Start with a higher figure

After your employer agrees you deserve a raise, they might ask how much of a raise you want, which represents the start of your negotiation. Try to begin with a figure that's higher than your target amount but is a reasonable request. This is where the research you performed about the average salary for your position, location and experience can help guide you. You can even explain that your research led you to these numbers so they know you're making an informed argument.

Related: What Is an Average Cost of Living Raise? Definition and How To Calculate

Balance persistence and flexibility

It's important to find a balance between being determined to get a raise that reflects your worth and being flexible enough to come down to an amount your employer's comfortable giving. One way to do this is by negotiating in smaller increments.

For example, if you say you want your pay to increase from $65,000 to $80,000 and your employer counters with $70,000, you can show you're willing to compromise but still value yourself by countering with a figure closer to your original offer. Agreeing to their increase or splitting the difference in the offers might tempt you, but they might still go higher. In this case, you might consider countering by asking for $77,500 to see how they respond.

Establish a timeline

If your employer says they'd offer you a raise, but there isn't room for it in the budget, try to work with them to establish a timeline for when the raise can occur. It's important to receive a fixed date to ensure they don't change their opinion or forget about the discussion. A good way to do this is to tie it to specific goals or achievements for you. For example, you might agree to get a raise once you increase revenue or cut costs by a certain percentage within a specific period.

Related: 6 Tips for Your Next Salary Negotiation

Tips for responding if they say, "no"

If your employer rejects your raise request, it's important to handle the rejection well to maintain an amicable relationship. You also want to handle it well because there still may be the option to ask for alternative benefits instead of a raise. Here are a few tips for ending a raise negotiation that didn't go the way you hoped:

Discuss alternative benefits

If your employer rejected the raise but still seemed receptive to your overall argument about the value you bring to the company, you might be able to ask for other benefits. Getting more paid time off can be like a raise because you're working fewer days each year, which means you get paid a higher rate per workday on average. Benefits like stock options or being able to work from home also can have financial benefits, which may be enough for you to consider.

Related: How To Ask for a Promised Raise That You Didn't Get

Thank them for their time

Regardless of the outcome, try to leave the meeting on a positive note. Even if you're considering finding a new job now that you know you aren't getting a raise, still try to stay on good terms with your current employer. You can do this by being professional and polite throughout the entire conversation. Maintaining a positive relationship can benefit you if you use them as a professional reference in the future.

Read more: 100 Ways To Thank Someone for Their Time

Don't apologize

Asking for a raise, even when you don't get it, is an effective way to demonstrate you recognize your worth. While it's important to be calm and understanding when things don't go your way, try to walk out of that meeting with confidence. If you apologize, your employer might think you asking for a raise was a mistake, which can hurt your chances if you ask for a pay increase again later.

Related: What Is Considered a Reasonable Raise Increase?

Ask for feedback

If an employer rejects a raise request, they likely have a reason for it. Getting feedback about why they said no can help you determine what your next steps can be to help you get a positive answer in the future. For example, they might tell you your research used outdated data, which can help you find new figures on which you can base your next negotiation. They also might explain that you made a perfect argument, but they don't have the authority to give a raise at this time. This could lead to them suggesting when to ask for one and helping you get it.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Consult with a licensed financial professional for any issues you may be experiencing.

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