Ask for the raise you want

You know you deserve more money, but how should you ask for it? Try these strategies for successful negotiating.

Ask for the raise you want

How much of a raise should you ask for?

You want a raise. Whether your performance review is around the corner or you've taken on new responsibilities over the past few months, chances are the thought of asking for a raise makes you nervous. But how much of a raise should you ask for?

Even the most seasoned professional becomes anxious when the topic turns to raises. But your boss will likely be uncomfortable too, which helps to even the playing field a bit. 

Planning is the key to effectively asking for a raise. Long before you even head to the negotiation table, you should be laying the groundwork for a bigger paycheck.

  • Leverage your skills:  Maybe you're the company's PowerPoint guru or possess some skill that everyone comes to you for help with.
  • Increase your visibility: Volunteer for projects or committees outside of your scope of work, she says. "What you are effectively doing is running a marketing campaign for yourself. You want to make sure you've got visibility with people other than your boss."
  • Keep an accomplishment log: Keep complimentary letters from customers or managers, note extra projects you take on, when you stay late at the office, classes you take, new skills you've acquired, and any other positive accomplishments you achieve.

Average raise percentage

The average raise percentage differs depending on the source you use. For instance, in its annual review, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the average raise for a performance-based promotion in 2020 is 3.0%, but according to the 2020 WorldAtWork annual Salary Budget Survey, average merit increase budgets for 2020 were reported at 2.6%, a 0.3% drop from 2019. Meanwhile,'s annual U.S. and Canada National Salary Budget Survey says the 2021 median salary increase budgets are expected to remain flat at 3%. However, the average 2020 actual merit increase was 2.3%, a dip from a 2.6% increase in 2019. It's considerably lower than the 2.6% increase that was predicted for 2020 in last year's survey. 

Go for gold

A performance review is a good opportunity to see if you're on a scheduled raise system, which will help you decide how much of a raise you should ask for. Any time you've taken on new roles but the company never coughed up extra compensation can be an icebreaker. Set up a private meeting with your boss to approach the topic.

Your job is to sell your boss on your achievements. To help you do this, take your achievement log and write out a script before the meeting. This will help you feel comfortable and more assured that you can objectively prove your worth to the organization.

However, companies often have policies that dictate specific raises at certain times. If a company's policy is to give annual raises, it's hard to get an exception to the rule. Usually decisions come from senior management, and your boss won't have any latitude to go outside the company's policy.

Less than desirable

If you do get a raise but it's much lower than what you expected, take a step back and wait a couple of days to gain objectivity. Don't let your emotions take over. Also, your manager may go on the defensive if you ask for a larger raise during your review.

Approach your boss after the review and ask for a follow-up meeting. Consider these tips:

  • Have an amount in mind: If your manager asks you what raise you have in mind, you don't want to go blank. Check Monster's Salary Guide to see what people in your position are making on average.
  • Be reasonable: If you were offered a 3% raise, you can't ask for 7%.
  • Use an "I" message: If you got a 3% raise but want a 5% raise, say, "I've accomplished XYZ, I possess XYZ skills, I put in extra time at the office and I'm a bit disappointed with the raise." 
  • Don't threaten to leave: Threats work against you, because they can put you on the slow track for in-house career opportunities. 
  • Be professional: Don't tell your boss that you heard another co-worker received a higher raise than you. 
  • If you still get turned down? Politely ask why. You do deserve an explanation.
  • Ask for a follow-up: If the reason is financial on the company's end, ask your boss to touch base in six months. If you didn't get a higher raise because of your attendance or lack of skills, ask your boss if she'll reconsider things in six months, after you've improved in those areas.

Look elsewhere

How much of a raise you should ask for is dependent on a number of factors, but sometimes, no matter how good of a case you make, the money just won't be there. Don't resign yourself. Start a job search to see what other better-paying opportunities are out there. Could you use some help? Join Monster for free todayAs a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads.