Getting the Raise

How to get a Pay Raise

If you are reading this, you probably think you deserve a raise, and perhaps you are long overdue. You may be wondering why your boss has not recognized your value or why he or she is not rewarding you with more money. Perhaps your boss does recognize your value and she doesn’t have the money to give you a raise. Or, perhaps she is oblivious to your value! Either way, if you want that raise, you’ll need to convince her that this is the right thing to do!

So, are you ready to start? Good! Grab a pencil and paper because you have to do some homework before you approach your boss. Be prepared with facts and figures that are irrefutable and, at all times, approach the discussion objectively. Don’t just go into her office and say “I want – NO – I DESERVE a raise.” That will get you nowhere fast!

Prepare your case carefully. Look back over the past year, or longer if you haven’t had a recent raise. If you got a paltry raise the last time, you may justify a larger one this time by going farther back in time. Make sure your information is factual and compelling. Include the project or task name and the hard results you achieved. I’ve completed the table below with examples to get you started. Remember, don’t be tedious and list all the activities and tasks! Stick to the outcome – just list the results you achieved at the end of the project.

Project or Task


Software Assessment and Installation Project

Saved one million dollars in customization and installation fees, delivered project 30 days early, resulting in 95% customer satisfaction

Training Project

Saved $250,000 in outside consulting fees by internal development and delivery of training course.  We used the money we saved to buy critical conflict resolution training for our team.

Expand the list to include as many items as you can recall. But be sure they are verifiable and objective. If your performance appraisals are fact-based you might be able to use them to remind you of what you’ve done in the past year or more, and how it has helped the department, the company or your boss.

Your list should ONLY include MEASURABLE, QUANTIFIABLE results, like the following:

  1. Dollars YOU Saved on a project by your techniques, skills, scheduling.
  2. On Time, On Budget projects that allowed the team to get more business or to move on to another critical project earlier.
  3. Projects Delivered ahead of schedule because of your work.
  4. Reallocation of work force to another project to be completed more effectively or quickly – be sure to include results from this project in time or dollars saved.
  5. Increased customer satisfaction because of what you did (give customer satisfaction scores or quotes – remember you have to quantify the results in some measurable way.
  6. Overall annual savings, schedule or productivity improvements using your techniques or skills.

When you complete your list, I’m going to ask you to do one more thing. Pare that list down to the 2 or 3 most impressive accomplishments. Remember, you are not likely to have much time to make your case with your boss, and as soon as you say the word ‘raise’, your boss is likely to tune out. Be fast, accurate and unemotional. Now that you have that all-important list of achievements, let’s talk about the raise.

You should have SOME idea of what you think is reasonable in case your boss asks what you had in mind. Research past raises and find out what the average salary is today for a job like yours. Your incremental salary growth may be below the industry standard. Take your company results and the economy into consideration – don’t ask for a lot of money when money is tight. Have you got your number? Good!

Now you are ready to plan for the meeting the itself. When you schedule time with your boss, don’t say “I want to talk to you about a raise”. Your boss may put off the meeting or prepare her strategy to turn you down before she hears your reasoning. Instead, you’ll ask for time to talk about projects and career concerns. If she asks for more detail, don’t say you want to know what’s in it for you in the future, or that you are looking for a promotion, just tell her that you are looking ahead and you want to be in sync with her on your plans for the future. Ask for at least 30 minutes on her calendar, so you’ll have plenty of time to position your request.

Don’t obsess over what you will say. If you are well-prepared, you can let it go and do your work. You want to have a calm demeanor when you are talking about something this important! At the appointed time, walk into the office with your notes (or better yet, memorize the results so you don’t need your notes). Talk first about the projects you are working on. Discuss achievements and keep the description positive. Then talk about your goals for the year or career plans or goals if you haven’t done that lately. But, Allow at least half of the allotted meeting time to talk about that raise.

When you are ready to bring up your raise, tell your boss about your review of your achievements and accomplishments in terms of hard dollars, dates or value to the company. Don’t say “I did a really good job on Project A”. Say “I was looking at the results for Project A – doing some computations. I gathered the project requirements and started team planning at the same time, and I saved one month of time, so when the development department got into trouble, we were still able to deliver on time, because we were 30 days ahead”, or “My advance criteria for department software and review of all choices against the criteria saved us one million dollars in installation fees and customization expenses – and we’ll be saving over $100,000 a year in service fees.”

Finish your pitch with these hard facts and results and then tell your boss that you feel you are ready for a raise. If you have not had a raise in a long time, remind her of your last raise date and the percentage you got, and ask if she is willing to explore the possibility of a raise with you. Don’t demand! And, don’t expect that she will be ready to give you a raise on the spot without talking to her manager or the human resource staff.

That’s the plan! You may not get the raise you want, even with all that preparation. There are times when there is just no money in the budget, or you happen to be working for an unappreciative boss. But, at least you gave it your best shot. You can move on to explore other job opportunities if you feel that is best for you, or choose to stay where you are and try again in six months. But you will have learned an important skill: How to objectively and professionally ask for a raise.

Categories Job Survival

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