Asking for a Raise: You're Doing It All Wrong

You won't put more money in your pocket if you’re making these mistakes.

Asking for a Raise: You're Doing It All Wrong

Raise before praise, that’s what we like to say.

Asking for a raise should be on your to-do list. Public praise from your boss is great, but let’s be honest, nothing says you’re crushing it at your job quite like a pay raise. Raise before praise, that’s what we like to say.

Fortunately, it looks like employers are well aware of that fact. U.S. salary budgets are projected to rise by an average of 3.3% in 2022, according to WorldatWork’s Salary Budget Survey.

Unfortunately, not everyone who deserves a pay raise gets one—and the reasons why might not be what you expect.

To avoid getting dinged in the wallet, check out some of the most common explanations why employees fall short when asking their boss for a raise. If any of these behaviors sound familiar, it’s time to make some changes.

You’re Uncomfortable Asking for a Raise

Even if you know how to ask for a raise, you actually have to do the asking in order to get results. Sounds obvious, but many employees make the mistake of just not asking for a raise. If you don't ask, your employer will very likely assume you’re satisfied with your salary.

Even if your boss is super-appreciative of your efforts, we doubt that any of them are going to come to you and say, "Hey, I want to give you a raise!"

Speak up—and explicitly state that you’re asking for a pay bump, not just a promotion.

You Don’t Know the Going Rate

In order for a company to be competitive when it comes to talent, it needs to pay its employees well. If you’re underpaid, well, that’s a good enough reason to start looking around for a new job, which should technically spur your current company to offer you more money.

So before asking for a pay raise, do some salary comparison and assess how much you’re worth next to other professionals in your field who are on equal footing. To find out what other people with your skills and experience are making, you can contact recruiters and do research online (Monster's Salary Tools can show you what you'd earn in your geographical location).

Once you’ve gathered this salary information, you can use it as a bargaining chip when you sit down with your boss.

Your Timing Is Bad

Many of the employees who do, in fact, ask for raises have poor timing. You don't need to wait until performance reviews roll around. In fact, by that time, your company may have already decided where it's going to allocate its budget for the coming fiscal year.

There are three times when you should consider asking for a raise:

  • When you’ve done something spectacular. A big achievement can justify a pay bump. For instance, you saved your company from losing its number-one client, or you introduced a new accounting system that cut the organization’s operating costs by 10%—these kinds of achievements demonstrate you’re a key employee.
  • When the company is doing well. You have more negotiating power when there’s more money in the budget—which there often is after a big earnings report is released. Vice versa, if your company is going through a decline, or has recently made a large investment for potential growth, now isn’t the right time to ask for more money.
  • When your boss gives you more responsibility. If you’re taking on significantly more work, you should be compensated for it.

You Can’t Articulate Your Value

Simply expressing that you want a raise won’t earn you a pay bump. You have to demonstrate what the company gains by having you on board.

Moreover, don't expect your boss to keep track of your progress. You should keep a record of your contributions and show it to your manager. Because money talks, highlight things you’ve done that have improved your company’s profitability or productivity (think numbers) and talk about the contributions that you’ll make going forward.

Make Some Power Moves

Asking for a raise can be intimidating, but it’s necessary if you want to keep your career moving at a healthy pace. That said, sometimes, no matter how solid your argument for a raise is, a company simply won’t be able to pay up. In that case, it’s time to make plans. Could you use some help looking for a better-paying job? Set up a free profile on Monster and you'll get negotiating tactics, interview insights, and useful career advice sent directly to your inbox. Monster can help you find a job that’s a great fit—and one that pays better, too!