How to Approach Asking for a Raise

Asking for a raise can be nerve wracking even in the best cases, and many times when someone finally builds up the nerve to go to their boss and ask for a raise – they are already frustrated and have been stewing on why they aren’t getting paid what they think they deserve.

Whether best case or out of frustration- We’ll look at a weaker and a potentially stronger approach. 


They might approach their boss with one of the following:

  • I’ve been here for 4 years, I do all this work, and I deserve a raise. 
  • I think I should be making X
  • I looked online and the industry standard for my role is y 
  • Something else along these lines. 

This conversation happens at all levels of an organization from the frontline to the C suite. 

Doing it this way can get you more money sometimes, BUT it puts you in a position of making a demand – either directly or implied. It’s also based on your perception of your value to the company of which you and your boss may have different ideas. Ultimately this makes it solely about you and what you want. 


Instead try: 

Is now a bad time for a quick discussion about my contribution to the company? 

This will prime your boss and let them know a conversation is coming. Pay attention to their reaction, don’t jump the gun, but if they seem like they are busy then let them off the hook with – “It’s a bit of an involved conversation, can we get it on the calendar?” 

Then get it on the calendar. Work to get the commitment. 

Once you are there, try:

“What are some things I can focus on skill wise or personally to add more value to the company? I’d appreciate the opportunity to direct my development, so I can do and earn more.” 


Instead of demanding, you are planting a seed and soliciting advice. It’s a great opportunity to understand your boss’ point of view and what they think. An added bonus, you are turning it into a joint venture- with your boss being a bigger stakeholder in your success- as you’d be following their advice. Now it’s a team effort. 

This strategy can help plant the seed, but there are no silver bullets. Plus, you have to be willing to do the work. The conversation will be meaningless if you don’t follow up on the advice and any commitments you make. 

Don’t Forget

A key to this and really every communication is being humble and authentic. No one owes us anything and being disingenuous is not a path to long term gains.

Mean what you say and say what you mean, put in the work to develop and grow into the person at the level of success you aspire towards. 

Hope this was helpful, would love to hear your thoughts.