How to Ask for Raise and When to Ask for a Raise (+ Best Email Example) [2020]

At some point in your career, you’ll need to ask for a raise. And you’ll need to know how to ask for a raise. The act of requesting an increase in your salary can feel stressful for the employee or job seeker. And in general, discussions about money can always be sensitive. But the reality is that this process can be much simpler and less stressful for you if you follow these guidelines.

According to Stephen Miller (CEBS) of SHRM "U.S. salary budgets are projected to rise by an average (mean) of 3.3 percent in 2020, up from an actual year-over-year increase of 3.2 percent for 2019 and 3.1 percent in 2018, according to the WorldatWork's survey data, collected through May 2019 from more than 6,000 responses, including from companies making no salary adjustments."

Timing Your Raise Request

It’s important to recognize good times and bad times to ask for a raise. Here are a few situations, both good and bad, that represent timing your raise request.

  • Good time: After completing your 2-year anniversary with a company and having a long-standing history or track record of driving success. This could mean after a few self-evaluation sessions with your direct supervisor, manager, or HR department.
  • Bad time: After completing a major milestone, but not being with the company for a long period of time or having been told your performance needs work.
  • Good time: Right after the first of the year, when executive staff members have reviewed staffing budgets and human resource budgets.
  • Bad time: After completing your 6-month milestone with the company.
  • Good time: After changing your job title, taking on a new job, or taking on additional responsibility.
  • Bad time: After someone leaves their job or the company.
  • Good time: After you start being more proactive with your job, over a period of time, and satisfying your manager's needs. Or during your annual review.

Choosing the right time to ask for a raise can be critical in how the conversation with your manager will go. Consider their needs first. For example, if the manager is working on a large milestone. And you suggest that time to speak with them regarding a raise. How is the manager going to feel? Most likely, very stressed. It is unappreciative that you were not focused on the major milestone but your own financial needs.

Understanding Your Raise Request

For many employees, the biggest question is, how much do you ask for when it comes to your salary bump? You don’t want to ask for a larger raise than you might deserve. And you don’t want to ask for too little of a raise. Asking for too much could mean an immediate denial of the request. And asking for too little can make you look like you lack confidence.

Here’s what to do. Understand the current job market conditions and the average salary range for the role that you’re in. Use salary research tools like Salary.com or PayScale.com to determine and understand average salary market data related to your job title. This can help when comprehending your pay increase request and during your raise negotiation (if there is one).

The general rule of thumb is that you should never ask for more than an 8% increase in your current salary. Most increases of this size happen to come with a promotion or new job title. When you look at the market information regarding base salary or average salary, determine where you are. And then factor in your current geographic location.

If your employer decides that they want to engage in a negotiation regarding your compensation increase request, you should do so. For example, set your salary request on the higher end (higher salary than you want or higher pay than you believe you deserve) but within an appropriate range (market rate), and then let them begin the act of negotiating salary. This may include your supervisor or manager telling you that there’s only so much they can increase in your pay. This is absolutely fine. And if you find yourself in a salary negotiation, you should accept any pay raise they offer unless you absolutely need a set amount in a salary increase to stay with the business.

Why You Deserve a Raise

Understanding why you deserve a raise is important. If you’ve been a high performer and have been with your current employer for more than a year, with no raise, then it might be a good time to suggest a pay increase. Your supervisor may not be the person to speak with when it comes to securing your raise or increase in pay. But you should certainly speak to them regarding your last raise or current compensation and suggest why you deserve an evaluation of compensation.

When you write an email or start your raise discussion, you should have at least a few supportive metrics that show why you feel you deserve a raise. Here are a few examples:

  • Have been with the company for more than 2-years.
  • Have earned high merits on all performance reviews.
  • Have been proactive with my duties and taken on additional responsibilities outside of the job description.
  • Are ready to take on new responsibilities and learn "new things."

These can be powerful metrics when negotiating or having your raise conversation since your manager may see your raise request as easier to satisfy than simply hiring someone new who could perform far less than you can.

When you provide your supervisor or HR department with the metrics that show your enthusiasm, commitment, and loyalty to your work, you can turn a difficult conversation about money into a much easier one. It is far better than simply talking to your manager and demanding a raise without any reasoning behind it.

Before you begin your discussions, if you are someone who has extreme anxiety discussing money, you may want to seek the advice of a mentor, career coach, or previous employer. And ask them what their advice might be.

How to Ask for a Raise

Here are the general steps to take to ask for a raise:

  • Perform market research and determine how much money is appropriate and fair to ask for.
  • Understand what skills and qualities are being brought to the team.
  • Consider the reason why the manager or boss would want to give you a raise.
  • Come up with an exact number, based on the average percentage increase.
  • Send your manager an email regarding your ask for an increase in salary.
  • Set a time to discuss your request with the manager.
  • Engage in a potential negotiation of the salary increase request.
  • Get a raise!

Common mistakes include:

  • Using personal reasons as the purpose to ask for a raise. For example, "I have kids, now."
  • Using a significant percentage jump in salary. Resulting in an unrealistic request.
  • Asking for a raise without adequate time with the company or without the business's appropriate work merits.

After sending a raise request email, the manager commonly schedules a time to speak with the employee. There are two results from this. The manager might inform the employee there is no additional budget to provide the employee a raise. Or the manager might ask the employee why they deserve a raise. Questions like the following may come up in the discussion:

  • Why do you feel you deserve a raise?
  • Are you going to provide something additional to the company in place of the compensation?
  • Is the request for additional compensation coming from your happiness at work? Are you happy with your work?

Employees should have answers to common rebuttal questions like these prepared in advance. During the meeting between the employee and the manager, the employee shouldn't expect an answer immediately. The manager will have to make a request with the human resources department and request the employment contract be altered. Asking the human resources to perform this update can take time.

Gather salary trends

Every job title has an average market value across the United States. The value is usually a certain salary range. Before asking for a raise, be sure to investigate what the range is for the job title. Use tools like the Indeed Salary Calculator to gather this information.

Use these trends to compare against what the current salary range is. Include education, years of experience, years working for an employer, and specialized skills as part of the equation.

Make a list of accomplishments that will be used to present to the manager. Identify a specific number from the salary range calculator, and place that into the email and conversation with the manager.

Set up a meeting

After sending an email requesting a raise, set a time to meet with the manager. It's best to meet face-to-face. In situations where the employee and manager are not in the same geographical location, use a video call solution like Zoom.

If a performance review is coming up, complete the performance review, then ask about the opportunity for a salary increase. It's best to complete the performance review with strong merit before asking for any compensation increases.

Prepare the pitch to the manager. This includes work accomplishments, current salary range, market trends, average salary ranges for the job title, and years with the company.

An example of what to say might include, "I've been with the company for about 5-years. Together, we've accomplished more than ten product releases, resulting in more than a 22% net revenue gain. Our experience together has been nothing shy of pivotal. After performing initial research, I found I'm on the lower end of the average salary range for my job title across the United States. I was hoping we might be able to discuss this and discuss increasing my salary to $120,000 per year. An increase of 4% from where I am today."

Be ready for questions, negotiation, or a soft decline

Discussing salary is never easy. The manager won't be able to provide answers to the employee during the meeting. Be ready to engage in salary negotiations, resulting in a lower percentage of salary increase. The employee should be ready to be declined, as well.

Common answers from the manager might consist of, "I agree, we've done great work together, and you're an invaluable asset to this business. Although I've been informed by the executives that we have no opportunities to provide raises this year due to market condition changes and changes in our sales figures."

Salary Increase Email Request and Example

To begin the discussion with your supervisor or HR team, you should send an email at the right time, asking to discuss your compensation. Here is an example of what your email should look like:

Email subject line: Discussing my current compensation

Hi Jeremy —

I’m writing this email because it feels like the right time to ask. We’ve completed many major milestones over the past few years, and I would love to talk with you about the opportunity to increase my salary. Here are a few things that I’ve been able to bring to the table during our tenure:

  • Have been with the company for more than 2-years.
  • Have earned high merits on all performance reviews.
  • Have been proactive with my duties and taken on additional responsibilities outside of the job description.
I’ve conducted market research regarding this role's salary range and have found that I’m in the middle as it pertains to the average salary for this position. I’d love to recommend an 8% increase in my base salary.

I’d love to talk with you regarding this request at your earliest convenience.

Thank you so much,
Robert

Raise Request Tips

Below are tips to help prepare an employee to make a raise request.

Have a pitch ready

Think of the raise request as a sales pitch. Answer all questions that the manager might have in advance. Use supportive evidence of why a raise is deserved, necessary, and should be provided. Align the interests of the business with the interests of the raise. For example, contributing more to the business through X, Y, Z.

Ask for a specific figure

Ask for a figure on the upper end of the market average. When the manager engages in salary negotiation and reduces the overall salary increase percentage, it will still be substantial. Start high, work lower through the conversation.

Take the meeting seriously

Place an equal amount of preparation and effort into the meeting, asking for a raise that would be put into a job interview. Time spent with the company alone is not a sufficient reason to provide the employee with a salary increase. If the employee feels they deserve a promotion, the meeting becomes a type of "job interview."

Never use other meetings to discuss salary

It's poor business etiquette to catch the manager "off guard." Using other meetings to speak about salary is considered disrespectful. And can result in the employee receiving no raise. It's important to properly address the request for a raise with the manager. Setting aside time to speak about salary, reasons for the salary increase, and creating a professional request for a raise.

Express happiness with the company

It's common for managers to misinterpret salary increase requests as the employee being unhappy with their job. If this misinterpretation takes place, it can result in difficulty for the employee. It could result in more one-on-one meetings between the employee and the manager. Or more frequent performance reviews. Be sure to articulate "how happy" you are with the job.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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