How to Ask For a Raise

How to Ask For A Raise + A Workbook

There are so many things I loved about my day job starting out. There are also so many things I hated about it, after nearly 3 years. I’ve been working since I was 15 so I’m well aware that you take the good with the bad.

But what happens when there seems to be more negative feelings than good? You have to reevaluate the situation.

Should I quit? Is there something that would make things easier?  What are some changes I can make to be happier here? Is it pay? Often people say that pay won’t make you happier but I think depending on the situation it might be a fix.

No matter what people say feeling unvalued can be a result of low pay. Don’t stay at a miserable job because the pay is awesome, but don’t think your intentions are wrong if you want to get paid what you’re worth.

Take my experience for example.

I had been at my job for 2 ½ years when I felt like I was starting to hate it. I was annoyed all the time and getting out of bed felt like punishment.

Then it hit me, I realized I felt fiscally unappreciated. My boss told me all the time how much she appreciated my hard work (she was the only one) and how she didn’t know what she would do without me but it didn’t make me feel any better.

I was in my mid-twenties living within my means but always feeling like I was just barely scraping by. Perfectly aligning my bills to fall on certain days and constantly dipping into my savings.

I was resenting that I was working so hard and making so little.

I know what you’re thinking… another entitled millennial who thinks they don’t get paid enough…

Just stay with me here and you’ll understand that’s not the case.

I was talking to an older friend who had been in a similar situation. The reason I was hating my job was because I was stressing about money while basically doing 6 jobs.

I was hired as Marketing Associate but was also acting as Office Admin, Secretary, Receptionist, Event Coordinator and (Part-Time) Maid.

Some people are quick to jump to, “maybe that’s all they could afford to pay you“. Well, as Event Coordinator and newly promoted Marketing Director (minus a raise… I’m sorry a title without a pay raise is just a company’s way of making you feel better about more work) I was privy to how much we spent on certain things, this year we’d spend my salary on Marketing activities that didn’t do much for us and half my salary on our anniversary event. The 3% raise I received after my two-year anniversary felt like a slap in the face.

I want to clarify my bosses are good people but they made one vital business mistake, they assumed I was a young, polite woman who wouldn’t fight it.

Let me paint an even clearer picture for you

Let’s do the math in case you don’t understand my frustration.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the mean average wage for my position is $65,000 (I didn’t make that by a long shot).

  • Office Admin mean in Texas $35,330
  • Secretary mean in Texas $35,255
  • Receptionist mean in Texas $25,990
  • Event Planners mean in Texas $48,580
  • Maid mean in Texas $19,570 – part time 9,785

Total= $219,940 I was roughly making a 6th of that.

See where my frustration came from? Of course, I didn’t expect to make $220,000, I’m not crazy but as a degreed vital member of the staff I knew I could and should be getting paid more than what I was.

The real breaking point

It was a relatively small company and because of the way it was set up we didn’t have the option of direct deposit. Every payday we got good ole’ fashion paper checks. This one particular day I was on the phone when they were handed out, I heard tapping on the divider to discover my coworker waving her check at me. Now I know you’re thinking… What? Turn out they passed out our checks without signing them…this was the second thing I noticed.

The first? She was making nearly 2,000 more a month than me. My coworker with no degree and who had been there half the amount of time as me and had far less responsibility.

My hands were shaking I was so enraged. That’s when I knew I had to do something.

Where people go wrong when asking for more money

I’m sure at some point you know someone who went straight to, “I’ll quit if I don’t get a raise.” Or in my case might have made a fuss about the difference in pay between them and their coworker. I went a smarter route, I didn’t throw a fit or walk into the office demanding more, I came up with a plan.

I decided to do some research. Anyone who knows me, knows I tend to overthink and try to research every aspect of any possible choice or action.

Here is what I did and the right way to ask for a raise.

I created a report for my bosses and included all of the following items:

Know the statistics.

I used the U.S. Bureau of Labor to see where I was on the pay scale. Be realistic. If you’re making $28,000 and the average for your position is $32,000 don’t go in demanding $35,000. It’s not likely you will get $35,000.

Don’t just look up these facts print them out and take them as back-up for your request.

Remind Them of Your Past Value

You can’t just say, “Other people make this, so I should too. You need to remind them of the things you do for them and why giving you a raise is the better choice than hiring a replacement.

Not only did I include the average pay in my state on my report but the averages of all the other positions I do, along with a list of all the tasks I perform weekly. Nothing is too small.

Wipe down kitchen and take out trash at the end of the day.

They probably don’t want to do that.

Also write down a list of major accomplishments.

Some of mine included:

Published 48 Original Blog posts (meaning I wrote and uploaded them to the website)

  • Coordinated 3 events
  • Guest lists range 39– 92
  • Budget range $____-$_______

Another thing I included was comments from emails from clients or coworkers. Stuff like,

“Dia, I don’t know what I’d do without you. You are always so helpful and quick.”

If you’ve made a significant plan or done something to save the company money, then be sure to mention that.

Make a plan for how to increase your value

Don’t just try to ride on your past accomplishments. Talk about your plans for the future and how you plan to help the company grow.

I included ideas to grow the companies social media following.

A detailed explanation of how one particular duty was costing us hundreds of dollars each quarter and how to cut that down.

I also came up with an in-depth plan to cut $20,000 from the Marketing budget.

Decide how much you want

Once you have the numbers you can make an informed decision on how much to ask for.

I went in asking for 12%, expected 6% and hoping for 8%.

I used a great (FREE) website Pay Raise Calculator for this part. It allowed me to see what each figure would break down to hourly, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly and annually (for budgeting purposes).

You can also print this out and put it into your report so they can see the figure from each angles.

12% (or whatever you select) may seem like a lot but seeing it at an hourly rate makes it less intimidating to them.

Ask in a formal manner

I know most bosses are busy, so get on their calendar! If they ask what it’s about tell them, you want to talk about your expectations and plans for the next year (quarter, etc). I recommend going in the order listed above. Start with your accomplishments and plans then go into pay. If you start with pay you will probably lose them or not have their full attention as they crunch numbers in their head.

First wow them with your awesomeness, then ask for money.

Figure out how long you are willing to wait for a decision

Hopefully, they will get back to you rather quickly and tell you, “Yes, you deserve it!

But more than likely that won’t be the case. You need to decide if this is going to be a deal breaker for you. If they say no, with no pay increase will that be your sign to start looking for a new job?

How long do you think it should take? If they wait too long to respond they may be hoping that you just forget about it or take it as a no (which you obviously won’t).

How it turned out for me

About 2 weeks after asking they told me they are reviewing it and would let me know soon.

3 more weeks passed and that’s when I decided to look for a new job. Within about a week I’d had 2 promising interviews with another company.

Like an ex who broke your heart and then calls you after a great 3rd date with a new person, they told me the day before my final interview they would be giving me 10%.

I ended up taking the job, not just better pay and but for better growth opportunities.

I’m sure it was a hard blow (they even told me so) but at the end of the day I needed to do what was best for me.

Would I have even looked for a job if they’d answered me sooner? I don’t know, probably not. Either way I’m a month into my new position and love it. I’m doing work I really enjoy and have the potential to grow in a way I didn’t have at the other company. AND I HAVE DENTAL! (#millennialgoals)

Asking For A Raise Worksheet

The experience came down to two things for me.

I had to blame myself and them. I should have asked before I was filled with 6 months of rage and frustration in my heart. So if you really believe you deserve a higher pay, ask! The worst thing that can happen is they say no and then you have to decide if it’s time to move on.

They should have put the money where their mouth was. If I was as valuable as they said they should have given me a better raise to start with. It didn’t make matters any better when I put in my notice and the first thing they asked was “Do you need more money?” So does that mean you still short changed me?

If you’re business owner, you shouldn’t wait to fiscally reward your employees as they are out the door.

Cutting ties in the best way

As I stated previously I knew how much my company and bosses relied on me. Not only did I give a 3-week notice instead of 2, I worked hard to make things as easy for my replacement. I created a 100-page guide with pictures and step by step instructions for all the things I did in the office. I even helped find my replacement. While they waited for her to start I continued to freelance and do work for them on the side so I wasn’t leaving them high and dry and met with my replacement after work to answer any questions.

Because I went above and beyond I know if this new job doesn’t work out (which I really hope it will) I can always count on them for a reference.

I will add one more piece of advice. If they say no, that awesome report you created wasn’t a waste of time, a lot of it can be used to help you find your new position. I took an altered version of my plan to my 1st job interview and I think it really helped. It showed that I was a thinker, go-getter and self-starter. If you do this be sure to remove any private company information like names or numbers.

Remember these tips only works as well as you do. If you are a great worker and your company can pay you more they probably will. If creating this report is the only effort you’ve ever put into your job , you probably shouldn’t expect a raise.

 GET THE WORKBOOK: How to ask for a raise

Have you ever asked for a raise? How did it go? How did you ask?

44 comments

  1. Amy Scott

    This is an excellent, thorough post. Such a fair point about not being entitled and just going in demanding. You’re right, you will be laughed out the door if you demands are unfounded or you walk in there with nothing to show. You’ve gone about it all the right ways!

  2. Paola

    Wow, this is a great recommendation post. I wish I had this post a few years back. Well done, I will definetely keep it in mind when my turn comes again.

  3. CAROL CASSARA

    this is one of the things people have the most trouble with. The calculator link is a big help, too.

  4. candy

    Always hard to ask for a raise and you have some great advice given here for people to follow. Glad I am not in that situation anymore.

  5. Cara

    This is great advice! I’ve definitely been in similar situations and I think you are right sometimes when you are a young professional companies think they can use that to their advantage in not having to pay as much, but what’s fair is fair. Love this post!

  6. Dia

    That is really what I think it came down to was that I’m young, because I had experience before starting there.

  7. Diana

    This is good advice and a great example. I think it comes down to more than what you’re paid in a position – it’s how people treat you. If someone is miserable, they really need to think of why they are miserable. Just because extra money is thrown their way, doesn’t necessarily change the situation. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig. I’m really glad things worked out for you! It’s important to remember to stick up for yourself.

  8. Roxy

    I feel like you were peering into the depths of my soul when you wrote this. When I say I am the one man accountant, maid, HR department for my firm and I literally make the least money. I actually cleaned up dog poop yesterday…after suffering through days worth of state income taxes (no I’m not a trained or licensed tax preparer). I started of loving my job but have low key begun to hate it. I 100% feel taken for granted and def. think I should be making AT LEAST 10k more than what I do. If I wasn’t already planning to leave to pursue other things I would surely be taking detailed notes so I could ask for a raise!

  9. Alison

    This was really great advice! I have never been in the position yet where I have needed to ask for more money but I feel like this was the smart way and really kept it professional!

  10. Elizabeth O

    I’m glad that things worked out well for you in the end. Joining a new company was a smart way to reinvent yourself at a level that matched your worth… We have to speak up for ourselves and if things don’t work out, seeking other opportunities is the best approach.

  11. Jerusha (ThePositiveYear.com)

    These are such fabulous tips and I love how you compare the whole offer after 3 weeks to a bad ex. LoL! I would have killed for tips like this since I habitually worked jobs where I was very undervalued and overworked. The closest I ever came was “demanding” I be made a full-time employee… At a company already working me 38 hours a week on average. It was like demanding I get air. I already had it and it was more of a hassle for them to say no than it was to change my status. LoL! – Jerusha, ThePositiveYear.com

  12. Tanya

    NEVER ever feel bad about wanting more for yourself. You deserve it no matter how old you are, or your gender or how long you’ve been with the company. I hate to say it but Companies care about their profits and most don’t care much about you at all, your boss might but your company really does not. So many times I have been in situations (as many of my friends) where you are not shown how appreciated you are until you are ready to leave, and most of the time it’s too late by then. They milk you for all you have and will not do much until you threaten to leave, it should not be like that. If you came out with a good argument why you should get a raise it should be a no brainer. If you have a great reason why you should get that promotion, you should get it. If not there should be a valid and reasonable explanation why not. This is not a stab against Companies, I’m not mad or bitter, I’m just telling that you need to think about what’s best for you, your life and your career. Take that leap, fight for your self and if the new job is not what you thought it will be, another one will come along in no time.

  13. Cole

    This is really good advice! I’m happy to hear you realized you were worth more and really went for it. It can be hard working for a smaller company because they can’t always offer the same things as a larger company such as dental, growth opportunities and higher wages. At the same time, I’m sure you gained a lot of experience that you were able to take to your new job!

  14. Liz Mays

    You were so prepared and from what I can see you went about it in the best way possible. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but it sounds like the new job will be much better anyhow.

  15. Dia

    It was what needed to happen but they time they offered the 10% I was done.

  16. Dia

    Thank you so much Cole. It was just upsetting finding out they could have been paying me more but didn’t until I asked

  17. Dia

    I know exactly what you mean but my boss/company was one in the same because she owned the business. I do think that you should go after more but it’s a lot easier when you have the proof to back it up. Thanks for commenting Tanya!

  18. Rachel

    This is such great advice. I think asking for a raise is one of the toughest things to do as an employee, but so important!

  19. Jenny

    This post is perfect right now. I am in a similar position – I am a marketing associate at a very small office where I mostly do social media content creation but I also do admin duties, event planning, manage our website, blogging, and work with some specialty leasing as well and let’s just say my salary is not sufficient enough for all of that considering that the mean salary for a secretary is more than mine…and I also have a bachelor’s and am working on my Master’s. I have only been working here for 6 months but I feel like this talk is going to come pretty soon.

    xoxo, Jenny

  20. Jasmine Watts

    This is great advice! If you have a great reason and you realized you were worth more, you should get it. Great post!!

  21. Anosa

    I am in a similar position, I have 3 jobs and only paid for one with too many promises but since I am heading back to school, I will stay on until i finish post grad

  22. Jenn Slavich

    Wow, love this! Asking for a raise can be very intimidating and scary. People can be so shy to stand up for themselves. Going in with a plan is so important. Then you know that you’ve thought this completely through and you are prepared for whatever outcome there is. Asking for 12% willing to take 6% wanting 8%. Sounds like maybe this was a learning experience not just for you but your old employer as well. It sounds like you are much happier now and you really were able to grow from this experience. Thanks so much for sharing.

  23. Natalia

    This is awesome, I loved reading this even if I’m still after a job. And quite scared too.. Anyway!

    Can I ask you something blog related? What plug in do you use for your sharing is caring socia media icons?

  24. Jennifer L. } Modern Chic

    came back to say this really help a friend out. And fortunately, she was able to get the raise. So thank you for the helpful tips!

  25. Dia

    Amazing! I don’t care what anyone says! Going in with facts is a much better way to show worth.

  26. Dia

    I think it was eye opening for us both! It’s like you have to be realistic but also you have to bring up the conversation if you want anything to happen.

  27. Dia

    That sounds so similar to my old situation. Good luck Jenny if you decide to have this talk and I totally think you should!

  28. Leslie Rossi

    yes! i love these articles. i recently quit my job where i was getting underpaid and not being recognized and took another job where i’m paid more and better benefits and environment. asked for a raise a few times, did my research and approached it fairly. sometimes you just have to move on.

  29. Dia

    Preach! Leslie, I’m so glad you found something new. If you asked for a raise you know you did all you could. So just keep doing what you know is right.

  30. Dia

    Right my icons are from the JetPack plug in. But my social share is Shareaholic.

  31. Dia

    You totally have to do what you have to do but if you deserve more ask! 🙂

  32. Dia

    Thanks Jasmine!

  33. Dia

    Right!

  34. Dia

    That’s the worst! I am glad you aren’t doing that anymore. It’s so messed up the way companies try to take advantage of people on things like 38 hours.

  35. Dia

    I’d love to say “and she never looked back,” but I still hear from them often.

  36. Dia

    Yeah, I think it’s better than an emotional one. Feeling undervalued can be an emotional thing but it’s still a professional matter.

  37. Dia

    Yeah. I love it even if it’s not for asking for a raise. It’s always good to be able to look at your pay as… “this much an hour” “this much a year” etc.

  38. Dia

    Good for you Roxy get out! Yes I totally get where you are… I’ve had to deal with garbage cans in my work clothes…not like in the kitchen but outside of properties… it was really messed up.

  39. Dia

    Thanks

  40. Dia

    Me too lol

  41. Dia

    Thank you Paola

  42. Dia

    Thank you. It’s true sometimes it is just money and feeling like you are working so hard but not making it money wise but other times the pay is a smaller part of a bigger issue.

  43. Dia

    Thank you Amy :). You can’t be like “I know I’m always late and I leave early but I need more money”

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