How to ask for a pay raise, and actually get one 1

How to ask for a pay raise, and actually get one

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at May 01 2023 10:53 PM | Updated as of May 02 2023 01:21 PM

On Labor Day, when we honor workers across the country, isn’t it ironic that it is also the day when the same workers have to go to the streets and stage protests to ask for pay increases that are long overdue?

And maybe because they do it every year, it has been easy for the people who can make it happen to turn a deaf ear to their pleas.

Let’s face it, we’ve all tried to ask for more pay, at one time or another. Maybe you said it as a joke, or appealed formally to your boss behind closed doors, or something in between. And most likely the answer was not a yes, at least not right away.

So how do you go from a no to a maybe to a yes? Sometimes it’s in how you ask, or the timing of your request. If you have plans to try asking again, consider these tips to help get you the answer you’ve been hoping for.

#1 Do your homework

While salary is normally a taboo subject, try to find out how others are making so you can share the benchmark to your boss. Get ballpark figures from people who you consider to be peers and working in the same industry or has the same job title. Even industry estimates would help, and there are some published reports available online. What’s important is for you to be able to make a case to your boss that you are paid below the industry average, and need to catch up. Of course, you may also find out that you are being paid above the median, in which case, you’ll need a different argument.

#2 Don’t make it personal

There are some things you should never say when asking for a raise. Like you are in debt and need the extra money to pay it off. Or that you found out one of your officemates got one, or that he or she turns out to be paid more. The first reason exposes you as a poor money manager, while the second and third make you look like a gossip. No one deserves a raise for all these reasons, because when it comes to work, it’s nothing personal, but all professional.

#3 Make a brag sheet 

If you don’t have one yet, start making a list of your accomplishments. Make it as detailed as possible at first, because you can always edit it later. For each accomplishment, try to quantify it into actual savings or any monetary value for the company. For example, you can list in the brag sheet: “rendered overtime for all Saturdays of March and April to meet the national tax deadline”. But don’t just stop there – add specific figures such as “rendered 500 hours of overtime and savings of P100,000 in taxes and 0 penalties for filing on time”.

#4 Pick the right time to speak with your boss

Every company has a scheduled annual salary review, at which time they give increases and promotions. Find out the time when the review happens, not when the increases are announced. You need to schedule a chat with your boss right before the review, and try to do this when she or he isn’t too busy, and you can have 30 minutes to 1 hour to discuss your work and future with the company. Do bring your brag sheet with you during the chat, and frame the conversation around how you want to stay and grow with the company.

#5 Ask nicely, but be confident

Don’t ask for a raise bluntly, but you can start by sharing how grateful you are for the opportunities you’ve been given which allowed you to deliver all the things in your brag sheet. Then go on to ask about possible promotions in the future, and adjustments in pay. Be confident, especially if you know you are a performer with potential. If your boss does not give you the answers you are hoping for, it’s also okay to show your disappointment, but do not threaten to resign (even if you really will). Instead, let your boss read between the lines that you want to grow, and will continue to look for the best place to do so (hinting it may no longer be in that company). Maybe that would be the wake up call your boss needs to recognize how they need you.

#6 Put your conversation in writing

After the chat, good or bad, write a note to your boss to say thank you. Humility looks good on everyone, and it’s always good to be grateful too. Thank him or her for the time they gave you, and capture the top points of what you discussed. Sending that note will signal to your boss that you mean business. If she or her actually gave you good feedback during the talk, your note will remind your boss to do what was promised. But if the feedback was not so great, your note may give your boss pause and reconsider.

#7 Yes, you need cash, but credit can be good too

While a raise is always welcome, sometimes it is just not possible so consider being flexible. My boss once candidly told me I cannot get an increase because of budget cuts, but will be given a dry promotion (meaning a higher rank but no pay adjustment). That may sound like a bad deal, but the dry promotion also meant I could get a higher car plan, more gas allowance, and more vacation days. I decided to look at it as glass half full than glass half empty.

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More than all these tips combined, what’s important is that you ask. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know what could be possible. And when you hit the end of your patience and just hand in your resignation, your boss could always argue that you never said anything. 

Someone once said that good people are always underpaid, because they always over deliver. If you believe you are a contributor, ask for what you deserve.


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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.