Asking your employer for more money isn’t easy, even when you know you deserve it. But if you knocked it out of the park over the past year, took on more responsibilities or received a stellar performance review, you owe it to yourself to talk to your manager about a pay increase.
If you’re not sure how to start the conversation or if this is the first time your boss hears you want more money, then put the request in writing. Here are some tips for how to write a letter asking for a raise, along with tips to help you develop confidence about the message you want to send.
1. Do your salary research
You’re not going to get very far if the amount you ask for is not in line with the realities of today’s job market. Completing your own comprehensive research will help you understand what a competitive wage is for someone in your position and geographic location. Consult the 2021 Robert Half Salary Guides, which break down starting pay ranges for hundreds of positions across numerous professional fields.
Researching the numbers will also demonstrate to your boss that your salary request is backed by real data versus your own appraisal.
2. Pick the right time
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. Does your company have a policy of granting pay raises only during performance review periods? Check your employee handbook for guidelines.
Consider also whether your organization has had recent layoffs or a hiring freeze. If you bring up your pay when your company has just furloughed employees or is seeing reduced revenues, 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 chosen a good time to broach the subject, make the ask. Email 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 describe exactly how you’ve excelled in your role.
Don’t mention what your coworkers make or any personal reasons you might have for needing more money.
Next in the letter, ask to meet with your manager to discuss the salary you’re seeking. If this is the first time your boss hears you want more money, set the stage appropriately. 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?
If you have already expressed the desire for an increase, you should go ahead and circle back with specifics. 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, explain how you landed on the salary figure you are requesting. Numbers are convincing, so use them in the descriptions of your accomplishments: money saved, revenue earned, 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. Express appreciation for the consideration
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.
Even if you don’t get what you’re looking for, thank your manager for allowing you to express yourself. Seek clarity on what would be required for a future salary increase, 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 request a review of my (job title) salary. During my time at (name of company), I have taken on additional responsibilities and have achieved success in several areas. I’ve made a brief list of just 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 team can count on me for X.
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 would be happy to meet with you to discuss my request and the company's needs. Please let me know if you are available for a short meeting.