How Not To Ask For A Raise

Robin Schwartz

How Not To Ask For A Raise

Asking for a raise can be an awkward experience. When you decide you want to ask your boss for a raise, you want to be sure you’re giving your boss the right information. You want your boss to say “yes” to your raise request or at least be open to discussing the possibility. To avoid being shut down and hearing “no”, consider what not to do.

Don’t Assume

It isn’t smart to assume that because you’ve been at a company for any length of time you’re owed a raise. While many companies have annual increase programs, not all do.

When approaching your boss for a raise after a short time with the company (think one year), don’t point out the length of your service. Instead, point out what you’ve been able to accomplish in that short time and how much more valuable your time and skills have become.

No matter how long you’ve been with a company, you’ll need to prove yourself when asking for a raise. Telling your boss how many years you’ve worked there won’t help. You need to be able to show what you’ve accomplished.

Don’t Compare Your Salary to Others

Don’t start the discussion with telling your boss “I know Gary makes X amount more than me.” Employers are aware that staff share salary information. It’s why most companies will strive to create equity programs so there aren’t disparities.

You have no idea why Gary might make more money than you. He might:

  • have more years of experience
  • have more certifications or education than you
  • he may perform better than you

Your boss will likely be put off by the fact that your argument for a raise relies on the salary of someone else and their achievements.

Don’t Discuss Personal Issues

Your raise is entirely dependent on your work product and how valued you are with a company. While many companies strive to create a healthy work/life balance for their employees, salary raises are exempt from that.

Informing your boss that you would like a pay bump of 5% to cover the increased price of childcare isn’t appropriate. Employers can’t start paying staff off of what their personal life dictates. Handling your household expenses is your responsibility – not your employers. Keep personal reasons out of your salary discussions.

Don’t Try to Control The Process

Your company might have a standard process they begin when an employee has asked for a salary raise. It might involve other areas like finance and HR to ensure the raise can be supported and is fair or that the performance reviews warrant a higher salary.

A raise process isn’t for you to control. Don’t place timelines or deadlines on the process. Don’t tell your boss that you expect to receive information by a certain date or that you expect a raise to be effective by a certain time. This will come across as superior and unprofessional to your boss.

If you’re concerned about the length of time the discussions are taking, have that conversation with your boss. Ask when you can expect feedback, not when you demand it.

Don’t Leverage Outside Offers

When people are struggling with getting a raise with their current employer, it’s not unheard of for them to play the market a bit. They will interview for outside jobs to see what’s being offered elsewhere in their field. Sometimes these people are actually interested in leaving their current job.

Sometimes, they prefer to stay with their current organization but are looking for leverage for a raise.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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