How to Get a Pay Raise in 8 Steps

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You’ve been slaving away at your job—isn't it about time you get a raise? You’re not alone in feeling like you're underpaid: According to a 2016 survey by PayScale, only 36 percent of employees feel like they’re fairly compensated, compared to 73 percent of employers who believe their employees are paid the appropriate amount. Clearly there's an information gap here. This is how you can talk to your boss and snag that raise.


It’s essential that you know how much people in your position make at competing organizations, says Andy Decker, regional president at Robert Half, a major staffing agency. To find this information, start by searching job-hunt websites like CareerBuilder, PayScale, or Indeed. You can also reach out to your alma mater about putting you in touch with other alums in your industry, or searching public records.


Unless you work in a small private business, your human resources department should have a compensation plan, says Marie McIntyre, author of Secrets to Winning at Office Politics. “Ask human resources how salary is determined,” she says. “Don’t ask them how much someone else makes, but they’ll tell you about pay ranges and scales and how decisions are made.” Once you understand the market value of your job as well as how your company determines your pay, then you’re in a better position to have "the conversation."


Now you need to prove why you deserve a raise, McIntyre says. Do you deserve it because you’re underpaid? Do you deserve it because you’re a top performer? Because you made a particular contribution to the company? “What’s your rationale for it?” McIntyre asks. “You don’t just get a raise because you’ve been there for six months.”


You want to cater your approach to best suit your boss's individual style. Is your boss more likely to be swayed by facts and figures? Then you need to go in there with the numbers to support your case. Is he going to respond well if you talk yourself up? Some will be impressed by that, but others will be turned off by it, McIntyre says.


Before you march in and request a raise, think about your company's state of affairs. Did they recently have a round of layoffs? Did they make budget cuts or take away any perks? If there were any signs that the company is having obvious financial problems, then it’s not the best time to request more money, Decker says.


Contrary to popular belief, your raise appeal should not be at the same time as your performance review, McIntyre says. This is because many companies determine budget and salary before the review. Ideally, the salary talk should happen at least a month before you're due for your review.

It should also be a scheduled visit. Explain to your boss that you’d like to meet with him or her to discuss your current compensation. “If he’s not prepared, he’ll feel like he’s been ambushed, and he may be defensive, which can shoot you in the foot,” Decker says. Since most people are busier at the beginning of the week, Decker recommends scheduling a time to chat on a Thursday afternoon. This way your manager has had a chance to tackle the important issues of the week, but isn't running out the door to start the weekend.


This is hands down the scary part. Thirty-two percent of people would rather clean the house than ask for a raise, according to a 2015 survey by Robert Half. But if you've followed steps 1 through 6, you're ready. “Go in there and have an open conversation,” Decker says.


It happens—but that doesn’t mean you have to walk away empty-handed. According to the Robert Half survey, under a quarter of people who were turned down would ask for other perks, which means that the majority of you are missing out on a great opportunity, McIntyre says. “Consider asking for a bonus,” she says. “Often, companies are much more willing to give bonuses; a pay raise is permanent and would stay in the budget for a long time as opposed to a [one-time] bonus.” Other options include requesting flex time, a title change, or extra vacation days.

If you're given a firm "no," ask what you need to do to move to the next pay step. Or, if the reason for your rejection is just that there's no room in the budget for an increase, ask when a better time would be and make it known that you'd like to revisit the question then.