Many people feel awkward or even scared asking for a raise.

The idea of going to your boss and requesting more money for your work can give some pause, even enough to not even ask.

Today we’ll cover how to ask for a raise as well as how NOT to ask for a raise.


First off, the facts: IF your boss isn’t paying you enough it’s in HIS/HER best interest to raise your pay commensurate with the services you provide and the salaries offered by the competition for similar roles.

Burnout helps nobody, especially you, and if you get to the point where you receive less than you’ve earned, it will affect your mental & physical health, which will in turn negatively affect your performance at work.

Receiving fair pay helps everyone at the company, starting with you.

Furthermore, taking the time to research, plan, and successfully execute a conversation to receive a raise will give you greater confidence not only in work but also in life.

So, let’s dive in, starting with:

How NOT to ask for a raise

DO NOT use a counter-offer as a tool to get paid more.

If you don’t know what a counter-offer is, allow me to explain:

If you are currently working for an employer, and while working begin interviewing with another company and then receive an offer from the second company, and then your current employer offers to pay you more than the offer you’ve received from the second company, your employer has just given you a Counter-Offer.

Don’t take it! I’ll explain why:

Every time I have ever worked with a candidate who accepted a counter-offer, they’ve regretted it.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

I had a candidate in Colorado at one time looking for a new position.

She had interviewed with another company a year prior, but accepted a counter-offer from her current employer.

Now, she’s stuck. She wanted to leave her current employer, but the other company that had made an offer now had no interest in her.

Another example is a candidate (we’ll call him Joe) I’ve known for over a year received an offer from a client of mine.

Joe then used the offer as ammunition to receive better pay and compensation with his current boss, turned down the offer, and now he still reaches out to me to see if I can find him a new position because, guess what: his boss didn’t follow through on his promises.

Joe used my client to negotiate better compensation, Joe’s boss made promises to keep Joe, Joe turned down the offer, and now Joe’s boss doesn’t want to follow through.

I even once heard a story of a company who offered a counter offer to one of their employees, waited two weeks, and then fired the employee out of spite for daring to interview with their competitors.

The majority of people who accept counter offers are gone within 6-12 months, either because the initial conditions causing them to look for a new position persist OR because once the company finds someone else who can do the same job for less money, and then fire you.

Think about it: let’s say you bring in $60,000/year at your current company.

Whether or not you’ve been receiving fair pay aside, you and your boss have agreed at one point in time on this salary.

Then, you interview with another company, and the second company offers you $65,000. You then go to your boss to put in your 2-week’s notice and the following conversation commences:

  • Boss: “How much did they offer you?”
  • You: “$65,000.”
  • Boss: “I’ll pay you $70,000.”

Wait a minute! If your boss thought you should receive $70K for your performance, your boss should have ALREADY been paying you $70K! The boss is only offering $70K as a short-term fix. Your boss still believes you DESERVE $60K.

What happens if someone with similar skills applies to your position asking for $60K? Your boss will fire you and hire the new applicant at $60K/year.

Some quick facts on counter-offers:

Now, let’s discuss the correct way to prepare for the discussion:

Researching what’s fair

How much should you ask for? That depends on how much value you, and others in similar roles, bring to the table.

To quickly start figuring out a fair wage, simply look up your title on job search apps like Glassdoor, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter to see what the going rate is.

Let’s say, for example, that I’m a Commercial Lines Account Manager at an insurance company in Miami, Florida, I can simply google what other companies (including my own) are offering.

Also, feel free to reach out to a recruiter such as myself who specializes in that industry.

Recruiters have front-line knowledge of the wages offered by their clients and their client’s competitors.

I’ve had many a conversation with individuals reaching out to me asking, “I’m a Superintendent in Philadelphia with 12 years experience. What do you think is fair?”

Additionally, ask people at your job what they make. As much as employers don’t like their employees discussing wages, you have the right to ask and compare salaries with your co-workers.

Lastly, look at what YOU bring to the company. What positive changes have you brought about? Did you increase production? Hire someone valuable who makes the company a lot of money? Fire someone who was losing the company money?

What differences have you made? This will help you navigate and negotiate the proper compensation you’ve earned.

Just one more that’s often not spoken of: do you NEED more money?

Maybe something changed in your life: got married, child on the way, loss of income in your immediate family due to a spouse losing his or her job, etc.

We often speak of a job as an exchange of services for money based on the performance provided, but that’s not exactly the whole story.

You should base your desired salary off of what you need.

Some of your co-workers might do the same job you do but they get paid more because their commute is longer.

They get paid more because they need more.

This is perfectly normal. So, if you need more money (for whatever reason) you are perfectly within your rights to ask for more. “Inflation is higher” is a PERFECTLY valid reason to ask for a raise.

Asking for a raise

It’s time. You’ve done your research, you’re NOT using a counter offer to negotiate more, and you’ve prepared yourself to speak with your boss about getting paid more. 

Let’s dispel some of the fears people have at this point:

  • Will asking for a raise make me sound ungrateful?

Not at all. The only reason your boss is in that chair is because he or she took the same steps you’re taking now.

  • Will anything bad happen by asking for a raise?


  • What happens if he or she says no?

Then you’re in the same position you were yesterday. Provided you show respect and remain polite, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  • What if I mess this up? Will that ruin my chances of asking for a raise in the future? Should I wait until I’m 100% ready?

Nope. Even if you don’t do the best job, you can always use this opportunity to ask “Well, if you won’t give me the raise I’m asking for now, what would I need to do to earn that?” There’s ALWAYS an opportunity in the future to ask again, even if your first time asking doesn’t go so well.

First things first: ask your boss for a time to speak.

This can be done in person or in an email. If your employer has an open door policy, feel free to just drop in and ask “do you have a couple minutes to speak?”

Don’t worry about blindsiding them. They have these types of conversations all the time. There is no “good” or “bad” time to negotiate salary. It’s part of the job of being a boss, so just take some time to speak with him or her about it.

Quick tips:

  • Be respectful and dress well. Treat this as nothing more (and nothing less) than a discussion between two professionals.
  • Don’t make threats or ultimatums.
  • Clearly explain the value you bring and why YOU DESERVE the raise.
  • Stand up for yourself and make your desires known.
  • Listen! Perhaps your boss will have a good point regarding why they can’t give you the raise OR when they can in the future.
  • DON’T THROW ANYONE UNDER THE BUS! “Well, Mike told me HE’S making what I’m asking for!” While you and Mike have the right to discuss salary, it doesn’t mean you should broadcast those dialogues. This is a conversation between you and your employer, no one else.

Negotiation tip: Sometimes you can give up a benefit for higher pay. I once negotiated a starting salary for a candidate who was offered:

  • $82,000/year base salary
  • Full health insurance, costing the employer roughly $12,000/year

He had health insurance through his wife, so we agreed on $88,000/year in exchange for a higher employee contribution for health insurance.

Take a look at your benefits and see if there’s something you could go without.

Back to the conversation, if your boss says no, ask why. Again, there could be a legitimate reason why your boss can’t give you the raise NOW such as:

  • “Times are tough.”
  • “We lost out on an account/client.”
  • “We just hired someone and don’t have the funding.”

Take note of these answers/excuses, because true or not, you can wait until the aforementioned problems are no longer an issue:

  • “I know I asked during the recession, but now that things are better…”
  • “Since I just secured XYZ client…”
  • “We have the funding now, so I’d like to revisit the conversation…”

If your boss gives you yet another reason why he or she can’t meet your desired pay, it’s time to update your resume and apply elsewhere.

Another response your boss might give is “we plan to promote you/give you a raise next quarter.”

That’s normal, so sometimes it can help to wait it out, but ask around to make sure this is standard at YOUR company just in case.

Finally, the end goal is of course to have your boss say “Sure, I agree, and your new salary is $X.”

But if he or she doesn’t acquiesce to your requested raise, ask “what would I need to do to earn that?”

Let’s say you make $90,000 and your target salary is $100K. Simply ask your boss “what would I need to do better to earn $10K/year more?” If the answer is “nothing”, update the resume, it’s time to find a better boss.

But hopefully your employer gives you a definitive, realistic, and attainable set of expectations beyond what you’re currently doing. Now, you have a roadmap to follow.


Asking for a raise shouldn’t intimidate you.

Millions of people do it all the time and it serves as a normal (and important) function of the workplace to ensure fair wages and company morale.

Remain calm, honest, and realistic about your expectations and why you deserve to receive more.

I truly hope this article has helped you gain the confidence needed to pursue a higher wage, and I wish you the best.

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