How to Ask Your Employer for Higher Pay

salary negotiation

Negotiating for a salary increase does not have to be a painful process. While many people dread asking their boss for higher pay, if you prepare your case ahead of time and go into negotiations with clear evidence of your stellar performance, you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting the offer you want.

Equally important is the tone you set during the discussion. A demanding, aggressive, manipulative, or negative approach will likely get you nowhere in your negotiations and may even backfire and put your job in jeopardy. By remaining calm, assured, and respectful throughout salary talks, you can signal to your employer that you’re a wise investment for them to continue making and worth every single dime they’re sure to offer you.

Here’s a timeline for successful salary negotiations:


  • Research your role: Learn the comparable salary for your job title, seniority or experience level, and field. Before you go into any salary negotiations, you need to know the industry standard to make sure your request isn’t too low or too high. Know the data around your role and salary, and use this data to your advantage in negotiations.
  • Consider your performance: One of the most important things you should do before you head into salary negotiations is to gather compelling evidence about your performance or value at the organization and how that justifies the pay increase you’re seeking. This should include any goals you’ve met or exceeded, how you’ve contributed, any additional duties you’ve taken on, or also any additional training or education you’ve received that could put you in a new salary category.  
  • Decide what you’re asking for: Know what you’re ultimate goal is when you go in to salary negotiations, as well as what you’re prepared to do if you’re denied the increase you want. Are you looking for an annual percentage increase or a bigger bonus? Do you want increased benefits, or are you negotiating for a “stay bonus?” Have a clear sense of what it is you want (and come prepared with the support you need to back it up) so that you can make your case in a focused, compelling way.


  • Communicate your value: Get comfortable talking about your accomplishments and advocating for yourself. You should be able to talk about your successes without feeling or coming across like you’re bragging. When discussing your accomplishments, be specific in your examples and draw a clear line between an action you took or project completed and the benefit of that to the organization.
  • Be respectful: Perhaps you’re already dissatisfied at work or unhappy with your role, and a salary increase is your last-ditch effort to make it work with this employer. Or, you’re long-overdue for an increase and feel you’ve been taken advantage of for far too long. Despite any negative feelings you may have toward your employer, don’t let this influence the way you communicate during salary negotiations. It’s usually more effective to remain respectful, positive, and calm.
  • Don’t give ultimatums: Even though you may have a number in mind for your desired salary (and if your employer doesn’t match this number, you’re going to find a new job), you shouldn’t use that as a bargaining chip in your salary discussions. Don’t give your boss an ultimatum, as this can be offensive. Focus instead on explaining the valuable role you play and how this justifies a comparable salary.  
  • Don’t complain or be too negative: Don’t focus on what you’re not getting. Keep the tone positive and emphasize your commitment to the company and what you’re excited about for the future. Employers will be more likely to make a heftier investment in you (by increasing your pay) if they believe you’re invested in them.


  • Wait: In salary negotiations, it’s typically best practice (and in your best interest) to wait and let the employer throw out the first number. By responding to an offer instead of pitching it, you’re in a better position to negotiate.
  • Persuade: Don’t be afraid to make your case and be persuasive. While you obviously don’t want to come across as aggressive, pushy, or demanding, making a clear, strong case for a salary that matches the value you bring to the company is an important part of negotiations.
  • End on a good note: Don’t demand that your employer give you an immediate answer. In fact, they likely won’t, so be sure to end the discussion on a positive note, reaffirming that you’re looking forward to meeting future goals. Offer to provide them with any additional evidence, documentation, results, or general information about your performance that might help them to calculate your increase.


  • Know your bottom line: You’ll likely have a bit of time between when you ask for the increase and when your employer informs you if it’s been granted. Use that time to really think about what your bottom line is and what actions you will take if the employer offers a salary that is below that line. Will you consider accepting other benefits or perks instead of more pay? If so, what benefits are most important to you and bring the most value to your professional and personal life? Would you settle for a revised job title instead?  
  • Prepare to counter-offer: If the pay increase you’re offered is not what you had in mind, consider a counter-offer. Again, know what you’re negotiating for: either more money or added benefits, perks, or a better job title. Come back with as much additional supporting evidence as you can – whether about your own performance or the job market – to make your case.

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