3 Things to Remember Before Asking For a Pay Hike

by Rich DeMatteo on February 5, 2010 · 3 comments

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This guest post is contributed by Brenda Harris, who writes on the topic of executive mba programs. She can be reached at her email id: brenda.harris91@gmail.com.

Some people do it timidly and with hesitation; others are brasher and more open about demanding it as their right; and yet others threaten to quit if they’re not paid more. While we all feel the jitters when we want to ask for an increase in our salaries, we adopt different methods to go about this act because there are no fixed rules or regulations to follow. But no matter how you ask for a pay hike, you must keep a few things in mind before you talk to your boss or put in a request in some other way because if you don’t, things could backfire on you in a bad way. So if you’re mulling over a salary increase, think over these things before you go ahead with the idea:

  • The current market scenario: If the world in general or your company is going through a lean period and your co-workers are getting fired or laid off by the dozen, then it’s definitely not the time to bring up the issue of a pay hike. You would think that this is pure common sense and that people will know that they’re lucky they get to keep their jobs in such a scenario, but there are times when people get ahead of themselves and convince themselves that they are indispensable to the company and that they should ask for and receive a raise.
  • Your present standing at work: If you’re in the doghouse with your boss, then it’s sure not the time to bring up the issue of your salary hike. You must wait for the dust to settle and work on getting back into your superior’s good books before you can broach the subject. This does not mean that you must toady up to them; rather, let your work do the talking and your salary hike request cannot be denied without adequate consideration.
  • The probability of you getting the raise: If you’ve just received a raise in the recent past, then your current request is probably going to be denied, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Also, your status within the company counts a lot when the issue of a raise comes up. Your boss may feel that you don’t merit a pay hike because you’re just not that valuable to the company. They’re not worried that you may quit if your request is denied, so there is no compulsion for them to cater to your demands. So holding the threat to leave over their heads may not be a good idea unless you are relatively confident that they will cave in or you have an alternative position lined up.

Salary negotiation is a tricky minefield that could end up hurting you badly if you’re not careful. So tread carefully, like you would on eggshells, read the situation well, and use the right opportunity and time to ask for your pay hike, preferably when your work is receiving rave reviews from your superiors.

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You have been reading my mind lately! I have just been recently contemplating asking for a raise as well. I think you bring up some good points, especially about the market. Even if layoffs aren't actively happening, it is something to keep in mind. Since I work in nonprofit fundraising, I find it harder to ask for a raise because I know our financial reality -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. I realize that we need to be our own advocates though, and that sometimes you need to just go for it!

Diane Prince Johnston
Diane Prince Johnston

While you may not get the raise due to the market, your present standing, most recent increase or a variety of other reasons; in my opinion it is fine to ask and discuss expectations with your employer. The important thing to remember is that you may not like the result and while you hope for positive, it will be helpful if you are prepared to deal with negative feedback too. Make it clear what you want, listen to your boss and exit the conversation in a calm and professional manner.


good post. this can be a tricky and process and most people are fairly inexperienced. I always recommend people track their achievements and have goals for what they plan to achieve in the coming year. Then in the meeting, break down the value they have given to the company. The additional value they will bring to the company in the coming year, and put a price on the value they are going to bring. I find lots of gen-yers think because they have been there for 1 year they deserve a pay rise, even tho their output hasnt changed.