How to Ask for a Raise - and Get One

Women continue to lag significantly behind men in pay. A study by the U.S. Census Bureau found that women earned just 78.3 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2013.

Even in studies that compare men and women in the same career, the data is disheartening: A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that female physician-researchers earned over $12,000 per year less than similar male physician-researchers after adjustments were made for differences in specialty, experience, region, productivity and other factors.

Ideally, of course, managers would hand out pay equitably and fairly in the office. However, the data suggests that women may need to advocate for themselves and request higher pay. So, how do you make an effective case for a raise? Here are five tips on how to ask for a raise:

Collect intelligence.

The only way to be certain you’re underpaid is to know what your peers earn. Check out salary-comparison web sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed and and gather as much information as possible about how much others in your industry and same position earn. You may even find pay data specific to your company. Also determine whether your employer has a pay policy or publishes pay scales for various positions within the company. These will all help you determine how fairly — or unfairly — you’re currently paid.

Time the conversation carefully.

After a performance review may be a natural time to ask your manager for a raise. But you don’t necessarily have to wait that long. Asking for a raise at the end of the financial year may be appropriate because that’s when many companies make their budgets for the year ahead. You might also ask for a raise if you’re being asked to assume more responsibility or have just finished a major project.

Focus on your accomplishments and value.

Discovering you make less than your peers is surely frustrating and disheartening, but it’s better to keep your request for a raise positive and focused on the value you create for your employer. Before asking for a raise, list your recent accomplishments, including any times you’ve gone above and beyond or helped your company bolster its bottom line. Be detailed, and point to any numbers about the savings or additional revenue you’ve generated. Don’t discuss personal matters or disgruntled feelings you may have, or what other co-workers’ salaries may be.

Have a salary goal in mind.

Be ready to talk real numbers. Use your research to suggest a higher salary that is competitive for your position and industry.  A 2013 study by Columbia Business School suggests that asking for an exact amount—such as $64,025—might be smarter than asking for a round number, such as $65,000, because it suggests you've done your research and will be less likely to be low-balled out of ignorance.  You can also ask your Human Resources manager for your current role’s salary range, so you are aware of the actual numbers for your position.

Be confident — and direct.

It's important that your manager knows you’re serious in your quest for higher pay. Speak confidently and directly. If your manager is reluctant to increase your pay immediately, ask further questions about when he or she will consider you for a raise and what you need to do to earn one. If higher pay is not an option currently, you might ask for non-salary perks, such as more vacation time.


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