How to Ask for Raise Without Embarrassing Yourself

Asking for a raise is scary. Especially when you’re our age, it’s easy to feel like you don’t deserve it. But that’s probably not true — you do valuable work and it’s most likely noticed. And if not, part of asking for more money is proving that you deserve it. Here’s how to do it without blushing, crying, tripping over yourself, saying “um” or otherwise embarrassing yourself in front of your boss. It’s possible, I promise.

1. The prep

  • Before you ask for a raise, you have to do some research and see what is typical of people with your job and your experience. Ask mentors or colleagues if you feel comfortable, and do some searching online at sites like Glassdoor.
  • Gather some information that shows you’re doing great work. Gather stats about how much money you made the company in your last month; an explanation of how the new system you implemented is vastly more efficient; or a few emails that you’ve received from clients thanking you for your help.
  • Schedule a meeting in advance with your supervisor. You should pick a time that isn’t too busy at your office, and make sure to it’s not going to be an in-passing thing. You want to sit down with your boss and carve out the time you deserve.

2. The ask

  • Be sure to practice this. The way you ask should be a positive reflection of why you deserve the raise. So practice, and deliver it with confidence. Don’t go too fast, don’t stutter and be prepared to answer questions.
  • Don’t go overboard — this shouldn’t be a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation with a fireworks display at the end. But take your time and outline your experience, how much of an asset you are to the company and what you’ve done to deserve more money.
  • Also don’t get too personal and say why you need a raise. Your boss isn’t going to be swayed by how hard it is for you to pay rent and still get brunch every weekend with your besties — that’s just uncomfortable and unprofessional. This is about highlighting why you’re a great employee.
  • Explain how you will continue to improve in the future — a new project you want to take on or a new skill you’re going to learn that can help you improve at your current position. Your boss, by giving you a raise, would essentially be investing in you. So show them you’re good stock.

3. The aftermath

  • Your boss may not give you an answer right away, especially if they don’t directly oversee your paycheck. So be prepared to react to that in a way other than a dumbfounded stare. Ask when you can expect an answer and if they need anything else from you.
  • If the answer is yes, great. Be gracious, thank your employer and be sure to follow-up in the next few days or weeks to make sure it happens. Also be sure to continue doing a great job, and don’t brag to coworkers about the increase in your pay grade.
  • If the answer is no, stay calm. It can be frustrating, but your boss is likely not doing it to spite you. Some companies have strict timelines for that sort of thing, and your company may really not be doing well enough for that.
  • Additionally, if the answer is no, it’s a good time to ask for something else you want — a few more vacation days, a trip to a conference later in the year or new training or certification. Don’t start bargaining, but say something to the effect of “I understand, thank you for listening. While we’re talking for a moment, I’d also like to discuss….”
  • Finally, don’t threaten to quit unless you’re actually going to do it. Ultimatums are rarely a good route, but if this is a last-ditch attempt to make a job you hate worthwhile and you already have some back-ups, then throw it out there. Maybe will stick.

Good luck! And may your future be full of a bigger paycheck and more confidence.

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