You’ve been working hard–getting stuff done, on time and above the level of your boss’ expectations. You’ve grown and taken the some team members and/or the organization along the way. And now you’re feeling like your work deserves a reward. It’s time for a raise.

There are few things that can be more unnerving in the workplace than approaching your boss to ask for a raise. You might second-guess yourself and whether you deserve it. You might be afraid you’ll piss off the higher-ups with your request. Or maybe you think asking for a raise will put you on the chopping block because it positions you as a flight risk if a raise can’t be given. All that said, my philosophy on asking for raises falls right in line with the words of Dolla Bill (played by the late great Bernie Mac) in Players’ Club:

“…F@&% dat! Pay me!”

Most of the time, closed mouths do not get fed, and if you’re truly deserving, you’re doing yourself and your career a disservice by not asking for a raise. So here are a few tips and suggestions to consider as you prepare to ask for a raise.


First thing’s first. Let’s address a couple of key things to determine whether or not you should actually be asking for a raise.


First–do you really deserve the raise? Here are a few self-check questions to consider:

  • Have you had at least 1 year of great performance?
    Yes? Great! No? Eh, maybe it’s too soon to ask for a raise.
  • Have you exceeded expectations or are you just doing your job?
    Yes? Look at you! No? Eh, maybe think twice about asking for that raise.
  • Have your responsibilities grown in scope, permanently?
    Yes? Do yo thang, then! No? Hmmm…maybe you’re not quite ready yet. (Sometimes it’s all hands on deck, but if your responsibilities didn’t change long-term, it doesn’t necessarily mean you due for a raise — but a bonus may def be in order)
  • Have you advanced your skill set, whether on the job or in some other way?
    Yes? Gone, stuff! No? Hmmm…your boss might have some leverage to turn down your request.

Did you know that raises were going to be hard to come by before you started?

If you work for a nonprofit, startup or an organization that’s facing hard financial times, it may be difficult for you to get a raise simply due to a lack of resources. If you took a position knowing this would be the case, then you may not get very far in your quest for an increase in pay, not necessarily right when you ask for it, anyway.


Now that you’ve confirmed that you do actually deserve a substantial raise, here are a few things to keep in mind when asking for it:

Show your gratitude

Express your appreciation for the opportunities you’ve been given so far. No matter how deserving of a raise you may be, an attitude of entitlement is not the answer to getting you rewarded for your work.

Do your research

What’s the industry standard in your region for what you do? Now consider your credentials and how qualified you are to do the position, whether it be based on education, experience or a combination of the two. This information is crucial and shows your higher-ups that you’re aware of the value of both your position, and of your personal efforts considering your experience. Be ready to present this information in an organized, easy-to-read format.

Quantify your accomplishments & contributions

Money makes the world go ‘round, and it keeps businesses thriving. Communicate the monetary value of your efforts to the organization. If you can’t make a direct translation to dollars like an account you landed, think about other things like efficiencies and improvements in customer/employee approval ratings that you had a hand in.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Never resort to “So n’ So is making….” Your request for a raise should be solely based on your performance, your credentials, and your knowledge, not what someone else is doing or getting. Even if you know for a fact that an undeserving co-worker is making more than you, remember to focus only on what you can control. And if it’s not your job, you can’t control what someone else does or gets.

After all of that, what if the answer is still, ‘No’?

If the answer is no, ask for the reasoning. If it’s something beyond your control like a lack of resources, there really isn’t much you can do beyond asking for an estimate of when they will be ready to re-evaluate the potential of a raise. If your boss disagrees with your worthiness of a raise, ask for a scenario of performance in which you would have been deserving. Additionally, ask for actionable items you can take to position yourself for a more substantial raise during your next review. And lastly, if everything has checked out and you deserve a raise, and the company has the resources to give you a raise, but for whatever reason you can’t receive it, start looking for a a new place where you and your efforts will be valued and compensated for fairly.

Written by

Southern girl with a soft spot for Harlem. Biggie enthusiast with kindred spirit ties to Beyonce. Martin's Gina. Jerry's Elaine. Too complex for anybody's box.