Asking your employer for more money isn’t easy, even when you know you deserve it. If you knocked it out of the park over the past year, took on more responsibilities or received a stellar performance review, it’s smart to talk to your manager about a pay increase. After all, there are relatively few employers who will throw money at you without being asked.
As a specialized staffing agency, we can help you find a new job. But if what you want is more money at the job you have — and you’re not sure how to start the conversation — your best bet may be to articulate your request in a letter asking for a raise.
We will show you some samples of what you could write in an email or handwritten letter and offer tips to help you develop confidence about the message you want to send.
1. Do your salary research
First of all, you need to know what your skills and experience are worth. The 2020 Robert Half Salary Guides break down starting pay ranges for hundreds of positions across numerous professional fields. Completing your own comprehensive research will help you understand what a competitive wage is for someone in your position and geographic location.
You need to know what your market worth is in order to have the greatest negotiating power. Researching the numbers will also demonstrate to your boss that your salary request is backed by real data versus your own subjective opinion.
2. Pick the right time
Does your company have a policy of granting pay raises only during performance review periods? Check your employee handbook for guidelines. One of the first steps in knowing how to ask for a raise is identifying the best time in your company’s cycle to have the discussion. In some cases, it won’t matter. But in others, it can be crucial.
As part of your research, see if your company has had recent layoffs or a hiring freeze. If you bring up your pay when your company has just posted a loss for the fiscal year, your appeal is likely to go nowhere fast, regardless of how amazing you are.
3. Make the request
When you’ve researched your salary range and landed on the perfect time, make the ask. Write to your manager and explain that you’d like to connect to review your compensation. Outline your impact clearly and concisely. Prepare compelling bullet points that convey exactly how you’ve excelled in your current role.
Do not mention what your coworkers make or any personal reasons you might have for needing more money.
Next you can take one of two approaches. You can either ask to meet with your manager in person to discuss the salary you are seeking, or you can provide some initial insight in your letter. You should use your judgment regarding which route is best to take, based on previous interactions with your manager.
If this is the first time your boss hears you want more money, it may be best to set the stage for an in-person meeting or phone call. You might consider a sentence or two in an email, such as this: Could we have a short discussion to review my salary or devote a few minutes to that topic during our next one-on-one meeting?
If you have a performance review coming up, it’s a good idea to ask ahead of time: Would it be OK if we discussed my compensation during my performance review?
And if you have already expressed the desire for an increase, you should go ahead and share it either as a percentage or as a dollar amount. Your email might include a line like this: We’ve discussed my wish for additional pay, and after some research, I’d like to request a salary increase of X percent.
4. Back it up
In a longer letter asking for a raise, provide context to explain how you landed on the salary figure you are providing. Numbers are convincing, so use them in the descriptions of your accomplishments: money saved, revenue earned, deadlines met, services improved, responsibilities taken on.
Just as you did in your salary negotiations when you interviewed for the job, your request should reflect the value you bring to the role, goals you’ve met or exceeded, results you have delivered, and industry averages based on your job skills and years of experience. It’s easier to put nerves aside when you feel ready to answer hard questions about why you deserve an increase.
5. Finish with a call to action
Close with a polite but action-oriented next step. This could be writing that you look forward to feedback or an in-person meeting. Remember to thank your manager for supporting you in your role and for considering your request.
After you hit send, be patient. Your manager may need to talk to a higher-up or HR before getting back to you. Those conversations and the resulting negotiations can take time.
Remember to make sure to thank your boss for allowing you to express yourself — even if you don’t get the response you were looking for. Get clarity on what would be required for a future discussion, and set a time to check in again. Negotiating is a process. Putting your request in writing is likely just the first step, but if you make the ask, it can pay dividends.
Sample template of a letter asking for a raise
As my X-year anniversary gets close, I would like to formally request a review of my salary for my work as a (job title). During my time at (name of company), I have taken on additional responsibilities and have achieved success in several areas. I’ve made a list of some of my accomplishments and responsibilities, which include the following:
• Taking the lead on …
• Meeting goals in …
• Improving efficiencies that led to a savings of $X for the company ...
• Achieving success in …
• Adding to my (skill level or education as it relates to the job) …
Aside from my X skills in this role, I have also demonstrated excellent X abilities and proficiency with X. The staff can count on me for X.
I enjoy my work here and appreciate the support you and the team have shown me. Given the added value I have brought the company, I think it is fair to request a bump in pay. Based on the research in the Robert Half Salary Guide, I’ve found that the midpoint salary (or median national salary) for this position is $X for my experience level. Considering regional variances, an X percent raise would put my compensation closer to those salary benchmarks.
Thank you for your consideration. I am willing to work with you to accommodate my request, taking into account what is best for the company. Please let me know if you are available for a short meeting.