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How to Nicely Ask for a Raise

by Alison Lake, studioD

Whether you have been working for a company or organization for six months or six years, the prospect of asking for a raise can be a nerve-wracking thought. However, with a planned, systematic approach and the right timing, the process can be achieved and hopefully with the positive outcome you desire. In many job situations, raises are not granted or offered spontaneously unless the employee takes time to request a pay increase and presents a persuasive case for why the raise is deserved.

Financial Picture

Without a plan, a raise request may fall flat. The employee should be familiar with the company or organization's overall financial situation, and consider if the company is profitable or has been subject to budget cuts. A sense of the general financial environment can help the employee frame her request for a raise. In difficult financial times, a raise request might be denied because the company cannot afford it. Therefore, an employee should preface any raise request with research about the employer, so the employee can then make a realistic and informed request.


With this knowledge in hand, the employee should then briefly outline his history with the employer before approaching a supervisor with a raise request. He should make a list of accomplishments and a timeline, along with any other factors such as overtime. Another helpful list could address the employee's present skills and qualifications obtained on the job and prior. Then, the employee could include research on average pay for the same position in other companies for the purpose of comparison. The plan should include possible counter-responses to the supervisor if he does not respond positively at first to the request.


In a busy workplace, timing is paramount when choosing the right circumstance for requesting a raise. Depending on the type of job, an employee could make an appointment to speak with the supervisor during a time that is convenient. Or, the request could be made during down time or while having lunch or a break with the supervisor, in a more informal fashion. The key is to find a time when the supervisor is not distracted with other issues and has time to focus on the raise request.

The Meeting

Negotiation is a skill that must be practiced over time, and particularly while discussing a raise, which is a delicate subject. With an employer, maintaining a diplomatic approach is important so as to present the case for a raise without being negative or confrontational. The raise request can be treated as an ongoing discussion. If a positive response does not happen right away, the topic could be revisited in a few months. In any case, diplomacy and polite language are essential.

About the Author

Alison Lake has been a journalist and editor since 2001, working with numerous newspapers and magazines. She has served on the world news desk of the "Washington Post" and contributed to The Atlantic, Foreign Policy Online, Al Jazeera English and GlobalPost.

Photo Credits

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