4 Preparation Tricks That'll Help You Ask (For a Raise the Right Way)


Woman talking to managers


Jill L. Ferguson
Jill L. Ferguson

According to study published last year by Payscale, less than half of working Americans ever ask for a raise, yet seventy-five percent of people who ask for a raise get some or all of the money they ask for. In addition to doing your research on what the fair compensation range is for your job, to prepare to more successfully ask for a raise at work, here are four things you can do:

1. Understand Your Impact at Work

Dr. Rosina Racioppi, President and CEO of WOMEN Unlimited, says, “It is important for women to understand how they impact their organization. They should be able to answer the question, ‘How do I add value to my organization?’ This is critical to understand as it can set up an effective conversation. When you are able to articulate the value you bring, you increase the likelihood of getting a raise.”

After you understand your impact at work, you’ll want to craft your request to include your unique contributions, ways you’ve saved the company money, results from projects you managed, and customer or management accolades. 

2. Build a Business Case

While you may need a raise to pay for the mortgage on the house or condo you’d like to buy, to pay for a better school for your children, or to get a new car if yours just died, your boss and your company really don’t care about those things. “You have to think about why your boss should even consider granting your request,” says Kathleen McGinn, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. By understanding your boss’s interests and goals, and aligning those with your own case, you are more likely to get what you want.”

So know which unique contributions and results (the past) to highlight to your boss, and then also focus on the future by including how dedicated you are to the company and the team and to future success.

3. Practice What To Say and What NOT To Say

Laura C. Browne, business coach and co-author of Raise Rules for Women: How to Make More Money at Work, says, “Practice asking for a raise in a confident manner and then stop talking. For example, one mistake some women make is to nervously follow their request with something similar to, ‘I know it’s probably not a good time to ask for a raise now so it’s okay if I don’t get it.’ Practicing your request can help you sound more natural and avoid saying something that could reduce your chances of getting a raise.”

Build your case in bullet points to yourself and then practice your wording by yourself in front of the mirror. Practice with your partner or best friend. Practice on your drive to the office. Practice until you’re comfortable with the words and “the ask” and until you exude confidence.

4. Choose Clothing That Makes You Feel Most Confident

BusinessNewsDaily called feeling confident “an investment”. A study called “The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing” by professors at Columbia University and California State University Northridge, also found that wearing a suit impacts our feelings of power, impacts the way we see the world, makes us think more broadly and holistically, and encourages us to use abstract processing. 

As individuals, we all know what makes us feel our best and our most confident. For Hillary Clinton, it's her signature pantsuit. For others it's a sheath dress. Whatever your go-to business ensemble, be sure that wearing it makes you feel like you’re rocking it, and that’s what you should wear on the day you ask for a raise.


Jill L. Ferguson is the co-author of WOMEN Are Changing the Corporate Landscape: Rules for Cultivating Leadership Excellence and Raise Rules for Women: How to Make More Money at Work. She is the founder of Women's Wellness Weekends and can be followed on Twitter: @JLFerg



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