Relationships

How to Ask for a Raise

Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pittman Hughes

The other night, hanging out on my sofa, I started texting with a friend. She wanted to ask for a raise, after killing it at her company for more than a year. “But I’m nervous about seeming ungrateful or entitled,” she said.

It’s true. All our lives, we’ve been taught not to talk about money. But asking for a raise is different. Your salary isn’t a gift your boss is giving you. It’s money you’ve earned because you’re valuable to your company.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m really passionate about people asking for raises. And, odds are, if you ask, you’ll get one. (A study found that 75% of people who asked for a raise got it.)

Below are 10 tips I’ve read and learned through the years (and I’d love to hear yours)…

Getting ready:

1. Be awesome. Are you crushing it at work? If not, ask what you can do to help your team, request more responsibilities, ramp things up and then ask in six months.

2. Choose a time to ask. I usually vote for asking for a raise every year — basically on the anniversary of the day you were hired. But if you’re not sure, you can always be honest and ask, “If I’d like to discuss my salary, how and when would be the best time to do that?”

3. Know that you won’t upset your boss. Employers are rarely shocked to be asked for a raise. Usually they’re more shocked NOT to be asked. Most companies work raises into the annual budget. One friend, who works in human resources, says she sometimes wishes she could tell their company’s employees to ask for raises — half the time, they’re already approved!

4. Make a list of your accomplishments. Keep a running list during the year of projects you’re proud of, lessons you’ve learned, praise you’ve received. Work is often invisible, so now’s the time to show your boss all you do for the company.

5. Don’t bring up personal stuff. Your rent went up, your commute is expensive, you’re planning a wedding — these are important to you, of course, but aren’t relevant to a salary discussion. The only thing that’s relevant right now is your worth to the company.

Having the talk:

6. Request a review. Ask your boss if you can discuss how you’re doing and how you can grow. Not only will this show her that you’re excited about working even harder, but it will give her a head’s up that you’ll likely want to discuss salary. Plus, once you have a meeting in the calendar, even if you’re nervous, you can’t back out!

7. Be confident. Take a deep breath. My brother has a weird trick when he’s nervous to do something: “I count to ten, or I’ll pretend my whole family’s going to die if I don’t, and then I do it.” Nice! Personally, I imagine what will happen AFTER the conversation. I’ll go home, order a burrito, drink a glass of wine and watch Frasier reruns. See? Not so scary, right?

8. Figure out how the numbers. Many companies budget for annual raises of 3% to 5%, so you could ask for that amount. Or you could go higher, especially if you’ve taken on many more responsibilities, you believe you make less than market rate, or you’ve blown expectations out of the water.

9. Say you’ve earned a raise, versus that you deserve one. Because it’s true!

10. Always be polite and gracious, even if the answer is no. Forbes suggests replying with, “What would it take for me to earn a raise in the future?” And if she’d like to give you a raise, but the company’s budget is too tight, consider asking for vacation days in lieu of money. And remember: Even if boss doesn’t give you the raise right now, she will still respect you for asking.

Are you happy with what you make? What’s your company culture like? Are you going to ask for a raise this year? Good luck, if so! We’ll be rooting for you!

P.S. Career advice from 15 smart women.

(Photo of Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pittman Hughes.)

  1. Claire says...

    This post, and all the comments were so helpful. I’m gearing up to ask for a raise, and while I’m not confident I’ll get it (my company isn’t well-known for regular raises, even if earned), at least I’m going to ask. My co-worker complains about no raises, but never asks, either. I’m working on my battle plan right now! :)

  2. Marki says...

    Thank you so much for this! I read this post several times in preparing to ask for a raise (for the first time ever!), which I just did today, and I’m really happy with the way I presented myself. My boss promised me a raise, and is getting back to me on the final number. I can’t remember the last time I felt more proud of myself. Would love to hear more career advice from you in the future – I love all of your articles, but this one literally affected my life in a huge way! Off to have that burrito I promised myself…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      good for you, marki!! huge congratulations!!

  3. Jenny says...

    I wanted to say thank you. After months of mounting resentment over a substantially increased workload (someone left our company and I took on 50% of their duties, in addition to my own) with no additional pay, I finally decided to ask for a raise. I remembered reading your post “10 Lessons I’ve Learned in My Career,” and finding the section on asking for raises particularly interesting. Yet the repeated refrain “the company budget is tight” echoed in my ears, and I continually talked myself out of asking. But when you posted this article, it bolstered my resolve! I came into my review armed with my bullet point list of accomplishments, the phrase “earned” rather than “deserve,” and the thought of a burrito in my future, win or lose. And guess what? It worked! So I wanted to say thank you for the nudge I needed. The first thing I did was set up a monthly contribution to my Roth IRA. And the second thing I did was buy myself a celebratory burrito. :)

  4. Nicole says...

    It’s an interesting topic, and one thing that people need to keep in mind is that companies work under many different policies, so there is no one-size-fits all… I’m a compensation analyst so I can tell you I spend most of my life dealing with employees’ pay – what’s appropriate, what is the market doing, how do we reward performance, etc., etc. I also happen to work for a government contractor which means that most of our employees are (just barely) below market, and that it is not easy for us to give raises. There is a lot that goes into the back end, more than even budget. Market rates are a big concern, but so is internal equity – you should be paid on par with other in similar roles, pay grades, and performance. Obviously asking NEVER hurts, but I think it is important to keep in mind that for most companies it is not as simple as “you just need to ask.”

  5. :) Very nice read!! Its always thought of as a dicey subject isn’t it!! I loved the being confident one the most!! You always worry about the right time to ask right and somehow there never seems to be a right time:) but being brave is the needed step in the right direction for sure!

    Love,
    Merin
    http://meiasos.blogspot.co.uk

  6. Fab post. Women are notoriously bad at asking for raises, men ask for them and get them routinely and women need to be more assertive and believe on our worth more. I have taken the position that I routinely ask for a raise, I am confident that I always do good work and have examples ready to hand as a back up. I have found I am almost always rewarded with a positive result. Should have started ten years ago

  7. Michell says...

    I’m grappling with this very thing at the moment. I’ve always completely chickened out or got emotional (too personal) when sitting in the room with my boss and then regretted even trying. I’ve set up a meeting on Friday, but I’m so nervous that I wont be able to see through the discussion without doubting myself or showing emotional attachment.

    I found your pointers helpful, though, and am going to try some of them out on Friday. Especially love the “my family will die if I don’t do this.” #NERVES

  8. Kondo says...

    I love your blog. I have a question, if I ask for a raise, my boss said he has no rights to give me a raise can I talk to HR person? I am the lowest among my level just because others joined the company earlier, is this resonalble? Thank you!

  9. Jordan says...

    This is really interesting! I work for a nonprofit, but we have standard times of year for raises. Every fall we have a performance review, and those performance reviews are used to dictate our raise. Raises are always capped at 4% unless you get a promotion or receive an additional increase to account for being paid below market value for your position. I’ve inquired with my HR director about it, and he uses three different websites (including salary.com) to come up with the market value of each employee on staff. Those who are below market value can receive more than a 4% raise, but the rest are capped.

    I have asked for a raise twice. Once, after a performance review, I got my raise number back and was disappointed that I didn’t get a bigger increase. I had done my homework with the salary websites and wasn’t being paid market value. They ended up explaining that I was being paid slightly under market value, but they left “room for growth” in my salary. I wasn’t thrilled.

    Six months later, I was offered a job that paid significantly more. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take it because I like my workplace, but I couldn’t ignore the salary factor. I approached my boss about it and was honest about the situation. I gave the company the chance to increase my salary if they wanted me to stay. Though they were unable to match the salary of the other company (and I knew they would be), they did give me a 15% raise that compelled me to stay put. In that case, it really helped that I had the leverage of another job offer.

    I always tell myself that even if I don’t get the raise I asked for, having that conversation helps me to know where I stand at the company and helps inform my willingness to entertain other job offers. Sometimes it might not be what I want to hear, but that helps me to realize I should update my resume and pursue other employment. If you don’t have the conversation, you’re left wondering.

  10. Annie says...

    I live in Seattle where the minimum wage was recently raised to $15.00/hour. I have been out of college for 3 years and am making a little over what the minimum wage is, all of the sudden. When negotiating a raise, how can I raise the point that I feel that I should be making more, considering high schoolers with no skills are making about the same as me? I know that sounds weird, but this is an issue my friends and I have been grappling with. It’s as if our degrees have been deemed worthless because of the minimum wage requirement.
    Thank you!
    xo

  11. Adrien says...

    I absolutely love this, and I agree. The best way to think about asking if you are nervous is “what is the worst that could happen” and the answer of “they will say no” isn’t so scary.

    I’m the head of a department at a medium sized tech company that has a great casual culture and the people are really really great. Being a mid-sized company compensation and salary review is always a really hard time as a boss because you don’t always get as much budgeted to you for raises as you want. I would love to give everyone who works hard on my team big pay bumps! But it is so important to have an open dialogue with your boss about your pay expectations — this helps them be a better manager to you, and if they can’t make the raise you want happen they at least know what you have in mind and can help work towards that in the future for you, or find other ways to compensate you for your efforts. I would so much rather know what my employees are looking for than have someone stewing away, or looking for another opportunity elsewhere, because they’re unhappy and didn’t even ask!

  12. Carolyn S says...

    I love how the boss in your scenarios is female :)

  13. Alison says...

    Men ask for raises all the time. And yes, they go to the personal. For example: I am having a new baby. My wife lost her job. I am the major bread winner. Their list is endless.

    It comes down to culture and your relationship with your manager. A good manager will make efforts. A piss poor manager makes excuses.

  14. Alexa says...

    I work in book publishing, which I am very passionate about, I adore my co-workers, and my work/life balance is very healthy — which I don’t take for granted.

    However, we are notoriously underpaid (in NYC, no less, where the cost of living is, as you know, through the roof) and it’s becoming an increasingly stressful and frustrating subject. When I last asked for a raise, I was told to be grateful for what I DO make — and, after taxes, my paycheck went up $26. I’ve been with my company for five years.

    My review was positively glowing, so I am confident it’s not a reflection of performance or my value to my teammates. It’s that we’re expected to be grateful that we are independently run and have an enjoyable office culture/summer Fridays/casual dress code — all of which I AM thankful for — without expecting “more.”

    Thank you for this post — this is really timely for me.

  15. erinsuzanne says...

    As everyone else commented- this is perfect timing. I’m actually in a grant-funded position in a non-profit job that I adore. I moved across the country for the job (and my sweetheart) and took a substantial ($10,000/year) pay cut to take this job. I’m very happy to be doing what I do, and my employers have consistently been pleased with my work as I took on several ‘extra’ roles as well as the one I was hired on to do. I’ll be asking for a 25% pay increase as I start writing grants to fund my position for the next couple of years- but I believe it brings my salary in line with my position, my background (10+ years of experience + a masters in the field), and the fact that I’m filling more than one position at our site. This is really helpful to read even though I’d most likely be finding some/all of my own funding. I didn’t negotiate at the start, because geographically and professionally it was such a perfect fit…but I can’t keep working/living at my current pay scale.

  16. Love this post, so glad this is a topic of discussion. I’m a copywriter and content creator, and I’ve worked full time in public relations and marketing since I graduated 6 years ago. (No small feat since I graduated in the middle of a recession.) I’ve worked for a private university and currently work for a small marketing company. I’ve asked for a raise twice in 6 years, and got them (eventually.)

    I just wanted to address this idea that we’re not supposed to discuss our personal financial circumstances. On one hand, I understand that your personal finances are not relevant to whether you’ve *earned* your raise. However, while salaries are not a gift that bosses give you, bosses *are* responsible for the livelihoods of their employees. They need to know the full weight of their decisions. If you believe that you are underpaid, and if you’re feeling the pinch economically, I think it’s worth the risk to add that to the conversation. Both times that I asked for a raise, my pitch went something like this:
    – it’s coming up on my anniversary with the company
    – here’s what I think I did well this year
    – here’s where I want to improve
    – I need this raise because (I need to pay my electric bill, I need to pay my student loans, I need my pay to reflect my experience)

    (When I worked at the private university, which was also my alma mater, I told my boss “honestly I enjoy working here, but my wages are well below average for my position and experience, and I can’t even afford to pay my student loans. I find it ironic that the university I work for doesn’t think my education is worth paying for.” She laughed and told her supervisors I said that, and it sped up the approval process.)

    I know that most people think that personal circumstances aren’t relevant to the conversation, but in my experience, telling your boss “I am not making ends’ meet, and if I don’t get a raise soon, I will be forced to look for another job and I hate that idea, because I enjoy working with you” is sometimes necessary. Also, it helps to have proof – search for information about average salaries of your position, in your city, with your experience. Make sure they know what the living wage is in your area, too. It always depends on your boss’ character, of course, but if they’re kind and respectful people, a frank conversation about economic circumstances may open their eyes. When you’re in a position of power, sometimes it’s easy to forget what it was like to be in the lower echelons of the company. Make sure they know you respect them, but be clear about asking for what you need. If you’re not honest, they can’t help you.

    • Great point, and well said. Thanks!

  17. This is awesome and something I always wonder about. I really do feel like it’s not worth asking sometimes, the company is too big, they don’t give raises, my work doesn’t justify it. I can really talk myself out of it.

    I would advocate for a little role play before you do the asking so you are used to hearing the words come out of your own mouth. The more you say it, the more routine it will feel and it may take some of the scary out of it.

  18. Annie says...

    I’ve also heard that your regular annual review is not the best time to negotiate your salary, because often times raises have already been decided at that time. Another tip it took me FAR TOO LONG to do is to Google standard pay rates for a specific position in your geographic area. This is especially helpful if you are switching jobs or moving into a different position or city. You don’t want to simply take a 5% increase of your current salary if the position you’re moving into has a higher market rate to begin with! You don’t know what you don’t know!

  19. Maddie says...

    I recently asked for (and got!) a raise. Because I have a master’s degree, I said, “I made an investment in myself, and that investment has greatly benefited the company in the unique skillset I bring.”

  20. JM says...

    Perfect timing for this post! I work for a nationwide corporation where salary increases are minimal and promotions are extremely hard to obtain, especially compared to other companies in our industry. Our company is known for paying significantly less than our competitors whose compensation includes not only a higher salary, but cell phone reimbursement or company phones, internet hot spots, car or car stipends, incentives for achieving goals, etc. It’s really frustrating when coworkers leave to a competitor and get so much more for doing the same work.

    I want to ask for a raise because I have been loyal to the company for several years and my work has improved and I am handling more complex workloads since I started. My office has a very high turnover rate and I’m the 4th most senior out of almost 40 employees in my office in just under 5 years. Our yearly reviews are coming up so I need to get the courage to ask for a raise, or other compensation. Thank you for these super doable, reasonable tips, Joanna, and all the other commenters who have great suggestions!!

  21. I would add one tiny thing and say, know your worth. It kind of goes in with the confidence bit, but also the figuring out the numbers part. You obviously know how long you have been with the company, use that with the list of responsibilities that you have, along with the extra work you shoulder and come up with a number that you find reasonable for your raise. You will have the ‘supporting information’ for why you deserve the raise.

  22. ee says...

    This is great….if you have a boss who doesn’t just completely ignore your request. Over two years ago I asked my boss to have a discussion about a raise. She said “great! send me a proposal.” I sent a very well-researched proposal about the work I have done, my longevity at the company, my pay in relation to prior staff in the same position (based on inflation calculators, etc.), similar salaries at similar institutions, my added responsibilities, etc. etc…. I had some people I trust look it over and heartily approve before I sent it off. Crickets. I sent it again about two months later. Crickets. I included it with my self-evaluation as part of annual reviews about 5 months after that (revised with any new accomplishments.) Crickets. Didn’t even get a review. This year, same. Crickets. My boss is also the boss of the HR Director, so it seems pretty worthless to go through HR to resolve, since ultimately they would be consulting with her on these matters.

    • Sarah says...

      you know, even though it’s discouraging, it might be actually beneficial to speak to the HR director about it, since they are in a position to perhaps give you an answer one way or the other, rather than just have it be ignored!

  23. Maywyn says...

    Choose a time to ask…Is all about the boss being approachable at the right time. Don’t make it about how you feel. Hide your nerves. Practice your opening and delivery. Hello etc. …then Clearly state you want a raise in a pleasant and confident tone, and then the sit down time to hear the reasons why you feel you’ve earned a salary or wage increase. It may be your boss already has one in the works or doesn’t need to discuss your work. And, know what the raise policy is, if any, before asking.

  24. I recently had to negotiate my salary after receiving a job offer. I was shocked at how difficult it was for me to ask- or even craft my request for more money (that would have just brought me up to the fair market level given my experience). It was a real eye opener and I vowed to always force myself to ask for a raise from then on. Men wouldn’t sit there and feel this emotional about asking for more money, why should we?
    p.s. i’m noticing a lot of Frasier references on Cup of Jo these days and it makes me :)

  25. Reagan says...

    Voice inflection is also so important when asking for a raise–especially for women. Don’t make it sound like a question, as in “Maybe my salary could be…?” or “I was thinking…?” (You know how we ladies have a tendency to raise our voices an octave at the end of a sentence like we’re asking a question.) Make it a statement. Period. Don’t sound like you’re questioning the raise. And also, don’t sound apologetic about it!

  26. Ida says...

    In Sweden, this is all standardized. All companies that have a collective agreement with the union (which is all major companies) are responsible of going through all employees salaries and their expected raises. Often there is a minimum raise set (like, 2%). Depending on what you work with and which union you are connected to, you get a set raise based on what work you do and what education + experience you have, or you negotiate on your own. But you are always entitled to talk about your salary once a year.

  27. Bethany says...

    This was great. I also love that “the boss” was referred to as a she. Thank you for empowering women in so many ways.

  28. Charlotte says...

    Oy, this makes me cringe thinking of the first and only time I had to ask for a raise when I was a unworldly 24 year old… I did ALL the things you say not to! This is great advice.

  29. Julie says...

    I recently asked for a raise and had the same concerns that your friend had about seeming entitled or greedy. I got some great advice beforehand that was crucial to my success. 1) Don’t say TOO much. Prepare a speech beforehand that states the value you’ve added and stick to the script. I heard from several managers that employees often ramble on and on when they’re requesting a raise and take too long to get the main point – more money! Plus having something eloquent rehearsed in my head kept me from being so nervous during the conversation. 2) If you aren’t making a lot of money to begin with, the standard 3-5% is just not going to make a major impact on your life. If you want to ask for more than this range, just state the number. My mentor gave me a great line to use for the end of my script. “Given these contributions, I respectfully ask that (company) raise my salary to (number).” I was asking for a $10k raise, which I felt was perfectly fair given my contributions and similar roles at other companies. So by stating my end goal, vs. the percentage, it didn’t seem like an excessive ask. This line also asks directly for what I want and does not use any language that qualifies the request, such as “I hope” or “I know it’s a lot to ask, but…”. After I was done with my prepared speech, my manager actually told me it was the most eloquent request for a raise she had ever received. AND I ended up getting what I asked for!!! I was so terrified to ask, but seeking advice from other professionals that I admired was so helpful. And I am SO glad I did! If I hadn’t, I would still be doing the same work, for way less money than I deserve. Trust me, if I can do it, you can too!

    • Lauren says...

      Nicely done!

    • Going in to my review this morning and planning on using this exact advice! Thanks for sharing!

      Would love to see more posts about women and professional development and advancement! Incredibly helpful and the comments on these subjects tend to be gold.

  30. Erin says...

    I love this! I find asking for raises very empowering. I just asked if I could SKIP a pay level (based on doing work several levels above my current). My boss was surprised and said “no one has ever asked me that, but let’s look into it!”

    I also remember being in the bedroom with my female roommate getting a job offer and asking if there was a signing bonus. She gave me this look like “WHAT are you doing?” but I got it, and now she’s learned to ask :)

  31. JoAnna says...

    Great post, super helpful! Thanks for this.

  32. I loved this post! I just found a new job that I love and I am willing to learn a lot and improve at it. I will take this post to start working my salary raise now for the future! This will keep me super motivated!

    Thank you Jo!

    Marina

  33. Allison says...

    such a great post. I like how one of the tips is to ask for vacation days instead of salary if salary is not an option. where I work (government agency), there are very specifically proscribed salary bands, and we were frozen for 7 years. but recently my co-worker and I were able to successfully negotiate a work-from-home day (after several years of trying) so that can also be an option for those who desire more flexibility if not salary. I’d love to see a post about this, including nationwide sources/resources advocating for flexibility in the workplace – I did have a hard time finding good info to back up the growing trend to help persuade the bosses.

  34. Danielle says...

    I am 100% using this at my appraisal this year. I haven’t been with my organisation long, but I’ve taken on the job role of someone who quit and haven’t been compensated to match the additional responsibilities.

    Unfortunately I work in the arts where you’re pressured to feel nothing but grateful that you’re one of the few in the sector with a job. Notoriously underpaid and overqualified (I barely make $35k after 3 college degrees), most employees operate with the voice of a finance manager in their head saying ‘We don’t have any money. We have no funding. Get funding or we’re in trouble’.

    It’s a horrible thought to have and incredibly frustrating when you can’t even buy proper stationery let alone ask for a salary increase. Wage disparity is a huge issue in the sector, but I don’t think we have gender gap issues as it’s a field occupied almost entirely by women.

  35. Aileen says...

    Thank you for putting together a thoughtful post on this topic. As a woman who has worked several years in a corporate environment I have never felt confident to bring up this conversation with previous supervisors. I find the tips incredibly helpful and only wished I knew this information when starting out my career.
    If there is one thing parents should do differently when raising young girls, is to prepare them for the work force equally as young boys. Young women need to know how to be financially independent and understand important business decisions. In my opinion the best way for women to receive equal pay for equal work is to have the same tools and knowledge to acquire it as their male counterparts.

  36. Kate says...

    Refreshing and great to see that you referred to the boss as ‘She’!

  37. Rachel says...

    “What if I told you that you could make $5,000 by having a 5 minute conversation? Then would you do it? Because that’s what it is.”

    My husband’s motivating question (also to himself) when someone has to negotiate their salary, which also applies here (though the amount and time may be a bit different). :)

  38. Jamie says...

    I got some advice from a senior woman in my company that when you’re talking about the salary you want with your boss, you should speak about your salary in a range, as in, I think I should be making 5-7% more than I do now, because employers will sometimes be hesitant to commit to a particular number… but also to make the top of the range higher than the number you had in mind. in other words, aim high and they might surprise you to the upside…

  39. Great tips! I really like this post. My motto is don’t ask, don’t get. I have asked for raises in every job I’ve had and always gotten them. I always go in with a list of responsibilities/tasks I’ve taken on and how my role has changed in the last 6 months/year. I try to ask every 6 months, just so my boss is aware of it when the opportunity arises for a pay rise, as our company budgets get signed off at a certain time of year.

  40. Lynn says...

    In preparation, inquire and know your companies raise and promotion policies. Bigger companies tend to have less flexibility, but good managers find a way. :D At my company (10k+ employees), non promotion related raises trigger a totally different process that’s cumbersome and goes all the way to the CEO (even for middle management).

    My boss was able to couch a decent pay raise as part of a geographic move and salary in a new currency. If you’ve been at a company for a little with a good relationship w/your management you may also consider other forms of a ‘raise’ like more time off, whether it’s official time off logged in a system, or your boss saying, “take an extra week” ;) and don’t mention it.

    Otherwise, I’m pretty happy w/ what I make given I don’t have an MBA and make just about a post-MBA salary. Do I worry those types of credentials will be a ceiling for me salary and professionally? Yes, but perhaps a different post Jo!

  41. L.R. says...

    This is great! I recently told my clients that I was raising my hourly rate and they didn’t flinch at all. In graduate school one of my professors taught us to say “That’s not enough money!” when we were negotiating freelance contracts, and I think about it every time. It’s amazing how easily we undersell ourselves. I’d love to see more career-oriented advice like this on the blog.

  42. Alison Doherty says...

    This is great! I was once (almost) fired for asking for a raise (which I did very respectfully). While I talked my way into keeping the job for the time being, it was a huge signal for me to start looking for other options. Even when the outcome is negative, it can be good to know what kind of company you are working for.

  43. Great post! I’ve personally never asked for a raise before out of nervousness but these tips are really helpful.

  44. Anne says...

    This isn’t necessarily related, but I appreciate your use of female pronouns when talking about “the boss.”

  45. Prudence says...

    Personally, I think the best method to ask for a raise is during a review. Of course, it is important to have work hard and bring results for the company prior to the review otherwise it will not be useful! Thanks for sharing your tips!

    Prudence
    http://www.prudencepetitestyle.com

  46. Claire A says...

    When I asked for a raise, I got 11%! My way was to ask about market adjustments for cost-of-living, how the company I used to work for did these, and I noticed in the past 7 years we hadn’t had one. I asked my manger if she would look in to it and she did. Not only that, but my whole department got adjustments up and she was kind enough to make sure it happened in time that my next annual review would follow, just to get me as far up the pay scale as she could. It all really added up :)

  47. Rae says...

    I work in Human Resources and I’m responsible for salary changes at my company. I think it is very important for a person, when they are thinking about asking for a raise, to know 1. When raises are scheduled and 2. What is the criteria for getting a raise. At my company, raises will be made in April after all year-end performance reviews are finished. Everyone gets a ranking based on their performance review and this is a huge factor in if someone gets a raise. Other factors are the market rate for a position (which is actually assessed in large companies by outside wage surveys), how long someone has been at the company, if they have taken on more responsibility, and if the company and their manager truly sees them as “valuable,” which can be really vague :)

    Of course, there is always room outside of this process for raises but those are usually out of the ordinary, like when someone gets a competing job offer.

    From being on the other side of things, I would say, obviously this depends on the company, but if you ask your boss or HR department about when the review process is and what the criteria is for getting a raise, they are very likely to tell you. Then you can follow that advice and play up those things in a negotiation.

  48. Victoria says...

    Nice post! Like you said, we’re taught to avoid talking about money, but if we’re being completely honest, money is a huge part of life as an adult. Would you consider doing a post or a series of posts on financial topics relevant to the modern woman? Specifically, saving for retirement, saving for your child’s future college, simple investments, etc. It all feels so overwhelming! I realize one solution is to seek a financial planner/advisor, but what are the important questions to ask?

  49. Throughout my eight years of career, I have always waited for my superiors to hand me a raise. We have a union collective agreement, which guarantees a (small) raise for every staff member every year, so my pay went up slowly over the years. Like most people, I wasn’t confident enough to ask for extra when our salary is already revised annually.

    But last year, I pumped up my courage to email my superior about increasing my allowance, citing rising of living and poor exchange rate. (I work for the overseas branch of my company.) And guess what, my request was approved! Although this wasn’t exactly a pay raise, it was a thrilling and empowering experience, knowing that I can negotiate for a sum that I feel is reasonable.

    I am definitely looking forward to using the great tips that you share in the future! :)

  50. perfectly timed post for my life :) i was just thinking about this and your list was beyond helpful. i’m surprised, yet not surprised, about #3! good to know that they’re already part of the budget and can be expected

    hammyta.wordpress.com

  51. That picture of Gloria and Dorothy made my day.
    About asking for a raise, I think just having the strength to do it, is enough. Most people (women) don’t even do that.

    Thanks for encouraging us to stand up for ourselves.

  52. Thanks for this great reminder. Specially the point number 10. Usually the fit after the denial causes more harm and chances of any raise even in next discussion just goes poof.

  53. Artie says...

    Thank you for this post. I’ve always struggled with money talk. This is so useful to me, especially knowing that most companies factor raises in and you don’t get it because you’re not asking!

  54. Louise says...

    Thank you so much for including the information about how much companies tend to budget for raises each year. Not knowing how much is appropriate to ask for is one of the main things that has held me back from asking.

    • agreed! it’s was so helpful to know the % range so you know you’re not asking for too much/too little

  55. audrey says...

    so happy to be reading this post, joanna. thank you for tackling this on cup of jo; i bet there are a lot of women who can use this post to feel empowered to talk raises with their bosses. do you read/are you familiar with ask a manager? it’s a phenomenal blog written by a woman named alison green, a management coach/expert with a funny and warm voice, and a strong feminist undercurrent. tons of great advice on being a good manager, being a good employee, being a good coworker, and being a good advocate for yourself in the workplace. i think you’d enjoy her blog if you don’t read it already. another great commenter community over there, similar to what you’ve cultivated here– kind, intelligent discourse. the only comments i read other than those here. thanks joanna! xo, a longtime reader since your glamour days.

    • I looked into this blog and I thought it is great. Thanks for the recommendations.

  56. I think another tip is come prepared with different figures in mind. I made the mistake in my first review coming in with a dollar amount I wanted as an increase and they had a percentage. I couldn’t do the calculation on the spot and so I just accepted it! And when I did the calculation later it was a lot lower than what I thought I deserved. Also, bigger companies work in pay ranges with promotions/job titles while small companies work in 3-5% raises yearly. I’ve found.

  57. Nikki says...

    I love this post! I’ve negotiated salary for both professional jobs I’ve held and ended up getting 10-15% more than they originally offered.

    I like this professional / career related content. Could you do a post sometime on achieving work-life balance? It’s a tricky balancing act.

    I’d also love to read a post on knowing when to stand up for yourself / push back at work. As women, we’re taught to be agreeable and accommodating. But sometimes it’s important to disagree with your boss, push back on a client, not answer email until midnight, voice a concern about a coworker, tell your boss if you’re unhappy, ask for a raise, etc. Many women (including myself) “grin and bear it” instead of voicing concerns or being “disagreeable” but I’ve noticed male colleagues don’t seem to have that problem.

    • Hello fellow Nikki! :) I totally relate to your comment! I had a work conflict and tried all angles. I love HBR podcast with Sarah Green Carmichael, and listened to this episode in the midst of the conflict (https://hbr.org/ideacast/2015/11/4-types-of-conflict-and-how-to-manage-them) it really helped me and I felt like I used the tools she suggested. Ultimately it didn’t work out and I needed to leave the company but I felt like using the tools she talked about helped me approach the issue in a diplomatic, personable and thoughtful way and I was able to walk away feeling like I did everything I could.

    • Julia says...

      Love this comment. I would love to see a post on work/life balance and how to be confident at work!

  58. Sophie says...

    An HR professional once told me that in her previous job, when she presented an offer to a candidate, she was frustrated to observe a pattern during salary negotiations. Almost as a rule, male candidates asked for more money while women simply accepted the proposed salary. And the clincher is that the company most often would have paid them more — if asked! To advocate for oneself isn’t being pushy or ungrateful, and no one should think less of you for asking — more likely, they just consider it part of the process.

  59. This is absolutely perfect & relevant. People are often afraid to ask for a raise when they truly earned it.

  60. Leslie says...

    Great post! The only note I’d add is that practice makes it easier – that’s why I really liked tip #2 about asking on a recurring day (like your work anniversary).

  61. Heidi says...

    Find out what time of year budgeting discussions are held in your company. In my former organization, all compensation decisions were made by late November to be approved by senior management in the middle of December and payments commenced in late January. If you wait until the new year, it may be difficult for large companies to respond quickly to your request. That said, you should always ask! In my experience (as an employee and as a boss) these types of discussions really help your employer better plan their business.

  62. L says...

    This is very apropos! I was just offered a full-time position for the company for which I’ve regularly freelanced for a year and half (yay!) but the number they gave me wasn’t an increase exactly – although I will get benefits and paid vacation now…should I still try to negotiate up? Thoughts, anyone?

    • Why not ask yourself a version some of the questions listed here – what more are you offering the company after going full time? Is it the exact same work or are you taking in more duties/responsibilities? Etc. If you have evidence to back up your request, then go for it!

    • Ashley says...

      Yes, L! One of my big takeaways from Sheryl Sandburg’s Lean In was to ALWAYS negotiate when offered a job. It’s normal and expected from men, part of the reason why women make less is we are often too timid to ask! I know that it can be a double-edged sword as women often can be seen as too pushy when they do that, which is why she recommends framing it as a “I don’t like doing this, but I know this is one of the silent things that hold women back” type of deal.

    • Meredith says...

      If you don’t negotiate and they offered you a low salary expecting you to, you’ve undersold yourself. The worst they can say is that they don’t have the budget to offer you more. The best they can say is yes, and then you both feel great about a new situation!

    • Anna says...

      Negotiate!!! Ask for a little more than you’d like to get. Where you start out in a full time job determined how much you’re going to make for the rest of the time that you’re working there. And, often how much you will make in your next job.

    • Shannon says...

      Yes! Negotiate up. Explain that you were hoping that a full-time position with the company would put you in a better financial position than you had been as a freelancer and you imagined a starting salary of x. Then sit, calmly and silently, while they formulate a response. Don’t fill the silence, just wait… This has always worked for me. I owe a debt of gratitude to the friend who first recommended this approach.

    • Sarah says...

      I was in this exact same position with my company. Technically what they were offering was less than my freelancing hourly which seemed wrong to me. However, freelancing wages are ideally based to offset unpaid bookkeeping hours, insurance, some things that are not necessary when your full time employer includes those things in your benefits package. I explained that I was eager to work for the company full time but unhappy to be working at a lower hourly wage. They explained that they weren’t prepared to offer me a higher salary at that moment but that my salary would be reviewed at my 90 day review. I was wary since I’d been burned at other companies who made similar claims and not much happened but I’d worked with this company for awhile and my colleagues I felt comfortable confiding in confirmed that the 90 day thing would likely come through, so I accepted with the offset of reliable full time employment and benefits, etc in mind. And at my 90 day review I did get a 10% increase. Good luck! You have the benefit of having an existing working relationship with this company so you have already both invested in each other!

    • Mrs O says...

      A freelancer will always make more than a full time position BECAUSE they have to look after their own benefits and holidays etc … of course you still negotiate, but just keep in mind that’s one of the trade offs for an employer to be able to pay a freelancer more, so as not to have to deal with the admin.

    • L says...

      OK! I’m going to do it! Thanks everyone! (muscle arm emoji)

    • Amy says...

      I’m a recruiter who handles contractor to full time employee conversions for candidates regularly (and was converted myself!) and at my company the conversion wage is usually fairly similar to the freelance wage. The reason is because now the co is paying your insurance and vacation time, etc, whereas before that had to be paid for yourself with your hourly contract wage. Not to say you shouldn’t try! But thought this might be helpful for others.

  63. Paula says...

    First of all, I love that you’re saying “she” when referring to the boss. I don’t know if it was intentional, but it’s awesome :)

    I think of what’s going to happen AFTER the meeting too (or any situation that makes me nervous). I actually like to think about the situation from the distant future. Could be next week, could be next year.. The thing is getting that image of how I will feel when I say to myself “Hey, remember when you asked for that raise? Why was I so nervous??”. This helps me get things into perspective. After all, that meeting is going to take up 15, 30, 60 minutes of your WHOLE life. So insignificant!

    • #girlboss ;)

  64. Liz says...

    I would also add to try and back up your negotiation with numbers, if possible. I just did this 2 months ago – I was offered x% raise in my review and said thank you so much, then asked if it was negotiable. My boss said yes, possibly. I took the time to then put my thoughts on paper, asked for a 3% increase on what they offered (figuring they’d meet halfway) and backed it up with numbers. This wouldn’t work with all jobs, but I was able to quantify my work with numbers and in the end, the additional increase I was asking for was only something like 0.05% of all the projects I helped win. My boss actually said it was the best negotiation email he ever got and that it didn’t leave much room to say no – the ended up meeting my raise request, not even negotiating down. I will say I work for a small company where they don’t have lots of corporate policies and I was also getting tons of great feedback from my boss before I asked this, so i knew how valuable they viewed me.

    In the end, you don’t get what you don’t ask for and the worst they can do is say no. You’d never get fired or looked down upon for professionally and respectfully asking for a raise!

    • we need to see that “best negotiation email!”

    • liz, this is amazing! do you mind sharing that email with me? i’d love to see and learn from you!

    • Karin says...

      Another vote for Liz’s negotiation email!

      Joanna, this is a PERFECTLY timely post. My annual review is at the beginning of February and I’ve already been coaching myself up on asking for a raise.

  65. Maggie says...

    Tomorrow is my annual review, so I’m glad to have some of this empowerment going into it. It won’t be the time to discuss salary, but it will be the time for me to enthusiastically review my work and goals. I hope to gain more trust from my boss and gain more leadership opportunities that will steer towards the career moves I want to make in the future.

  66. Love this advice. As an addendum, “listing accomplishments” is something I see as a year-round project. Any successes, praise, side projects, or unexpected turns I handle throughout the year, I write down immediately—just a Google doc or email draft or note on your phone, anywhere you can track these will be helpful. I’m always amazed how much i forget over the course of the year. #9 really resonated with me, too—semantics can make all the difference!

    • MaryMargaret says...

      Agreed, Eva! At my last job we were required to do a self memo at year end (highlights, projects, wins, goals for the coming year). If you did not take the time to do the memo, you would not be considered for the bonus pool. I renamed this the “Me Memo” and would keep track all year long of accomplishments, compliments, great client feedback, positive mentoring feedback, and any and all positive contributions. Recording positive words/deeds in real time helped make that memo a breeze and was useful in selling myself at the end of the year. Recording also made me more mindful about complimenting others and giving credit where credit is due. Write it down and tell people about it!

  67. Carly says...

    Such great advice! I’d love to see this topic expand to discussing how to negotiate salary. I recently had my review and while I did negotiate (successfully, I might add) the whole process seemed set up for me to not even try. I should also say I work for a female owned and operated start-up but in a way I still felt greedy for asking for more, even though I know I earned it. Help!

  68. Chea says...

    As a teacher, I worry that I will never be happy with what I make!!!! However, summer vacation is a great consolation. (: And my small side business is a little help.

  69. This is such a helpful list! I’m starting a new job in two weeks, but flagging it to revisit a year from now ;)

  70. A. says...

    I’m a freelancer, so no asking for a raise. BUT my husband runs a small company and he is forever scratching his head when people don’t ask for a raise. In the case of his company they offer one as soon as they’re able and when people deserve it, but in other places he’s worked, it was company policy not to give one until asked. It’s our job as women to demand equal pay and to ask for fair compensation for a job well done! It’s not entitlement!!!

  71. Kate says...

    Would Alex ever do a post about his career? Idk if he prefers to stay private or if it would be weird with his workplace or anything, but you have had a more unique path in a newer industry and as an entrepreneur. I would love to hear about his experience in (what I imagine to be) a more “traditional” business!

  72. Heather says...

    Divine intervention! Here am I toying with this idea & your post comes along & calms my restless mind. Thank you so very much!

  73. Yes, I love this! Although it was not in my field of study I took a class on negotiation during graduate study and what I learned has really stayed with me – mainly ALWAYS negotiate. And the fact that women are much less likely to ask for more money or for raises, and so they don’t get it. I do think a big component of it is believing you deserve a raise (and you do!). I would also advocate for regularly discussing professional development and negotiating salary with girl friends, you can help bolster each other before the ask and get feedback on positioning for raises and promotions. I chat with a girl friend every other week during my lunch hour, we call it our “professional development hour.” Working with my HR dept has also been a big help, they’ve helped me think about promotions that would make sense and given salary ranges, which is really useful to have ahead of asking for a promotion or a raise. Good luck asking for those raises everyone, you deserve them!

  74. Jeannie says...

    HOLY SHIT I was just thinking about this (I mean, it IS the beginning of a new year). Thanks for the timely post!

  75. Leanne says...

    I’m an hourly worker and I managed to negotiate up $1 more than I was originally offered when I was given a promotion. That doesn’t seem like a much but it’s actually an extra $2000 a year! Over the rest of my working career that could mean an extra $60,000! That’s not chump change for a quick conversation.

    • Lauren says...

      Women who don’t negotiate and/or ask for a raise lose about $1.4 million in earnings over their lifetime. That is so much money to lose just because you think someone will think you’re entitled (which you are — entitled to that $1.4 million!!).

  76. Unless you’re delusional about your skillset and make the request in an entitled manner;). In that case, your boss will be annoyed…

  77. Great tips! Unfortunately, they wouldn’t have worked when I was teaching — our district’s salaries were frozen for a whopping seven years. :\

    That being said, the English teacher in me still lingers. #10 — no instead of now. ;)

    Katrina
    kateandfleet.blogspot.com

  78. As a therapist who also does career counseling, I hear women time and time again talk themselves out of asking for a raise. For some reason we make it so personal, like it would burden our boss to pay more or you feel uncomfortable being demanding. All the tips you gave were spot on. They are all the things I tell my clients and to add fuel to the fire I might mention- as a female you’re probably already getting paid less than your male counterparts, asking for the raise that levels the playing is not too much!