Obtaining a pay raise is very much about your preparation, your strategy and your timing. Be rational, be reasonable and be unemotional. Here’s how.

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Think you deserve a pay raise? Before you approach your boss, follow these steps to ensure you’re ready for the discussion.


Find out how pay raises are determined. Are they tied to performance and provided after the annual appraisal? Can they be given any time of the year? Who must approve the raise? What justification is necessary?

Arm yourself with salary data. Conduct research online to find out salaries and pay ranges for similar jobs in your area, industry and geography. Try salary.com, payscale.com, glassdoor.com and indeed.com.

Determine where your pay fits. Meet with HR to find out where your pay fits within your employer’s pay bands or pay ranges. This is also a good time to ask questions about what it takes to reach higher pay levels.

Find out how your manager views your work. Are you seen as an average or high performer? What does your manager view as your strengths and areas for improvement?


Create a list of accomplishments. Write down quantifiable examples that demonstrate your high performance. What have you achieved in your job? How have you added value to the department?

Create your career development plan. List your career aspirations and the actions you’ll need to take to get you there. What experience, education or training will you need? Be prepared to discuss your short- and long-term career goals.

Analyze your pay versus the salary data. Compare your pay to the salary research. Given your education, training, skills and years of experience, is your salary below that of workers in similar positions?

Prepare your justification. Write down the reasons why you believe you deserve a raise. Have you taken on additional responsibilities? Is your salary below similar jobs in your city? Have you not received a raise in several years?

Determine your counter-request. If your manager were unable to give you a raise, is there anything else that would make you happy? Examples: a one-time bonus, tuition reimbursement or attending a training seminar.


Schedule a meeting with your boss. Choose a time when your manager isn’t overwhelmed with other work or will be rushing to another meeting right after yours.

Come prepared. Bring everything you’ll need to explain why you believe that you deserve a raise, such as your salary research data, list of accomplishments, career development plan and justification document.

Have an open discussion. After explaining why you scheduled the meeting, take your boss through your information and calmly explore the potential of receiving a raise. If he or she agrees with your assessment, great! If they say “no,” find out what it will take for you to earn a raise. Avoid ultimatums, such as “I want a raise or else I’ll quit.”

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.