Asking for A Raise – Tips and Strategies to Position for a Higher Salary


It has been a while since your last raise and during that time you have been exceeding expectations, killing your goals and even managing additional projects for your boss. You deserve to be compensated for the work you have accomplished; all that remains is asking for it.

According to the Wall Street Journal article, Women at Work:

Men are four times more likely than women to ask for a raise—and when women do ask, they typically request 30% less than men do, says Carnegie Mellon University economics professor Linda Babcock, co-author of “Women Don’t Ask.”

Women have all kinds of reasons why they don’t ask:

  • I was just doing what I’m paid for
  • It isn’t a good time, the company sales are soft
  • My boss doesn’t really like me
  • What if I get turned down
  • I don’t really do all that much more than my peers

If we don’t ask, the answer is ALWAYS going to be no. So let’s examine a few techniques for preparing for the conversation.

Let’s start with that initial conversation; the one in which you negotiate your salary upon taking the job. You may be so excited for the new opportunity that you miss the one and only chance you have for setting the original financial bar. Success magazine offers 7 Tips for Negotiating the Salary You Want.

You need to do your research, ask the right questions and then truly listen to the answers. Look for opportunities to justify your requests and understand that your total compensation isn’t just the amount of money in your paycheck.

How about if you already have a job and want a raise?

US News offers a great article on the subject with 10 tips. Here are a few of my favorites:

1.  Don’t talk about personal reasons for wanting the raise. As women, we can sometimes feel the need to add personal explanations (newly divorced, taking care of aging parent, etc.) to the discussion. However, asking for a raise is a business negotiation and therefore the conversation needs to stay professional.

2.  Don’t compare your salary to your peers. First, you shouldn’t be discussing income with others at work and second, you don’t really know what they make unless you’ve seen their pay stub. The negotiation is about you and your work product and your value to the company.

3. The second tip leads to the third one I want to focus on and that keeps the negotiation about your value to the company. Alan Weiss is a professional business consultant famous for making millions based on the value his results bring to the companies he works with. His book Value-Based Fees is geared toward entrepreneurs but his process works for everyone. His approach is to have an honest discussion about what your value means in terms of dollars to the bottom line of the department or company. In other words, what would it cost the company if you were gone and they had to replace you with someone new? Someone who didn’t have your experience in the industry, working relationships within the company and solid quality performance. If you think in those terms, what is your work worth to your boss, your department, your company?

Once you have done your research, prepared your data, rehearsed and finally conducted your conversation, you have to be prepared for what you will do if the answer is no. Empty threats are never a good idea, but you still need to know what your reaction and course of action will be.

Asking for a raise is a challenging endeavor but if you truly believe that a raise is in order, based on your work, then go for it!

JJ DiGeronimo, keynote speaker for women that shares strategies on advancing professional women in leadership, diversity in business.


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JJ DiGeronimo

JJ DiGeronimo

Speaker, Author & Thought Leader for Women in Tech & Girls in STEM.

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