How to Negotiate a Raise

Are you ready to increase your earning potential? Learn how to negotiate a raise like a pro with our step-by-step guide.

You work hard and do your job well. During your annual review, you might walk into your boss’s office and hope to walk out with a bump up in your salary. But, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. 

Most raises don’t happen immediately. In fact, research shows that fewer companies are giving out yearly raises. And, when they do, the increase typically hovers around three percent or less—barely covering the cost of inflation for the year. 

Your best chance to help keep your career moving forward is learning how to talk to your boss about a raise. There are a few tips and tricks you can use to mentally prepare yourself for the process and feel confident about negotiating a new level of compensation that reflects the important work you do. 

1. Know what you want

Before you walk into the office for your meeting, plan what you want and how you’ll ask for it. How much of a raise do you want? How much is reasonable? 

Experts typically suggest asking for a 10 to 20 percent increase in salary. But before you commit to asking for a 20 percent raise, do some homework. What’s the average salary for similar positions? Talk with trusted colleagues and do your own online research to ensure the raise you request is reasonable. 

Remember that a negotiation isn’t restricted to your salary. You might want to request a 10 percent raise and additional vacation days, a gym membership, or a cell phone reimbursement. 

2. Pick a good time 

Try to set up the meeting at a time that works in your favor. Say you just completed a big project or managed someone else’s duties while they were on leave. That’s a good time to showcase the work you’ve done. 

There isn’t always an ideal time, and that’s okay. If you want to discuss a pay increase, make an appointment with your boss for a week or two in the future to give yourself time to prepare and strategize how to negotiate a raise. 

3. Demonstrate your value

After asking for more money, demonstrate why you’re worth it. Highlight your accomplishments and the results of projects. Mention teams and initiatives you’re leading or discuss your previous efforts to earn the company additional revenue. 

Now isn’t the time to be humble. It’s time to show your boss how committed you are to the company. 

Remember, your boss might only know about some of your accomplishments. Supervisors often get wrapped up in their day-to-day schedules. While your boss may occasionally recognize a job well done, they likely aren’t tracking every milestone of your progress. 

4. Plan a follow-up

Your boss may not agree to your raise instantly and may want some time to process your discussion. For now, prepare yourself to hear, “I’ll get back to you.” Before you leave the table, ask when and how you should follow up. Mark your calendar to follow up on a specified date. 

5. Expect a negotiation

In a perfect world, your boss will give you everything you ask for. But, in most cases, they may come back with a counteroffer. Now, the negotiation begins. This is where knowing how to talk to your boss about a raise comes in handy. 

According to financial experts, most employees who ask for raises receive an increase. For example, your boss could offer you a five percent raise, rather than the full 20 percent. In that case, you might counter by asking for other benefits, like additional vacation time. 

This is an important negotiation tactic. Never concede on a point of the negotiation without asking for something else in return. If your boss wants to give you 5 percent instead of 20, that’s fine. Respond by saying something like, “I understand where you’re coming from, but I can only do that if I get 5 weeks’ vacation, or a free gym membership.”  

If your boss denies your request altogether, ask what you can do to make the raise a reality within the next year. Maybe there are additional responsibilities you can take on. There may be professional development courses you can take that’ll boost your skills and prepare you to join a new level at the company. 

You have to keep the mentality that a “No” is never a flat-out rejection. It simply means “not right now.” 

6. Keep your cool

No matter what response you get from your boss, keep your reaction and attitude professional. It can be upsetting to get turned down for a raise. But remember that your behavior also speaks to your character and professionalism. 

Negotiating a raise doesn’t have to be intimidating. Learning how to talk to your boss about a raise is all about doing your homework, knowing what you want, and preparing for a professional conversation. Even if your boss requests that you wait, you’ll have gotten some great negotiating practice and experience that’ll serve you no matter which path your life and career take. To learn more career advice for adults, check out Intuit’s blog on growing your career through mentorship.