How to Ask for a Raise 101

You think you’re ready for a raise and haven’t gotten one yet (or in a while). How can you most effectively ask for a raise? It’s a delicate conversation at the best of times. Are there things to avoid? Our founder, Mark Phillips, has some great advice on this subject.

Reviews often happen at the end of the year, although these days we see more companies who do reviews annually tied to your date of hire. Whenever it happens, a review is a great chance to find out how the company values you and your work, which can then provide a good data-based case for you to receive or ask for a raise.

Think in terms of results and the value you bring to the organization, not just your duties and responsibilities. If you frame your raise request around the value you provide, it makes your case much stronger.

As you calculate your value, take a look at a few things:

  • Profit generated – What profit to the company were you directly responsible for?
  • Savings generated – How did you save the company money? For managers, this may even be something like staff retention. Do some research and find out how much turnover costs a company. In the time of the Great Resignation, this is no small thing.
  • New projects started and completed – What projects have you done? Did you initiate any of them yourself? How have they benefited the company?
  • New clients brought to the table – Who did you personally bring in? Did those clients then lead to other new clients?
  • KPIs (key performance indicators)/Goals – Do you consistently meet them? For how many quarters in a row?
  • History with the organization – How long have you been there?
  • Time since last raise – Has cost of living increased since you got a raise? Has inflation gone up? It certainly has in the last year.

Other Data to Consider

Gather some data on average salary and compensation trends in your geographic area for your industry, but keep in mind that those numbers tend to be extremely general and may not apply to your specific situation. For those of us in edtech, it tends to be a bit lower than in other industries, but knowing average numbers does give you a good sense of a ballpark range. Again, make sure you’re looking at numbers for your industry.

As you take a look at your compensation and where it stands compared to industry averages, realize that understanding how your compensation package compares to your peers is the hardest during the first four years of a new career. Not just people right out of school, but if you’ve made a career change and have started something new, too. If that describes you, we recommend you not only gather data but talk to a recruiter (again, in your industry), who will have a much better idea of what your compensation should be.

Also, make sure you know when your company sets their budget. The budget could have been set in November for a calendar-following fiscal year. When do they tend to give raises? You should know these operational facts. And if you ask for a raise in January only to learn that budgets are set in November, block time in your boss’s calendar in September!

Is there a downside to asking for a raise?

There can be if you do it wrong. Here are some of the biggest mistakes we see when people ask for a raise:

  • Doing superficial research – Don’t just look at a salary survey from If you see the general information there and think it’s a good reason for a raise, it’s not. You need more specific and relevant numbers.
  • Getting hung up on your credentials – Unless you work for a school or a larger company, your master’s degree or Ph.D. probably won’t have much bearing on your compensation. Are your skills and credentials directly related to your job? Those are the ones that matter more. Have you added new skills since your last salary increase that improve how you work and the value you produce? Highlight that instead.
  • Getting hung up on your experience – Years of experience only matter in the first 5 or 6 years, at least in edtech. For example, if you have 20 years of experience post-college, as an edtech salesperson your salary is probably pretty similar to someone with 10 years of experience. In non-sales positions, it might be more about the first 10 years, but even still, if you have 30 years’ experience, don’t expect to be compensated just for the extra years. It’s about the value you bring, not how long you’ve been doing what you do.
  • Asking with a sense of entitlement – Try not to approach asking for a raise in a defensive or entitled posture. Think about your boss as a client and asking for a raise like closing a deal. Is a deal even possible? Be persuasive. Work the deal. You may deserve a raise, but be humble about asking for it. There’s a fine line between being a team player and focusing on what you bring to the table versus just saying, “Hey, I deserve a raise.”
  • Seeking advice from the wrong people – As you’re asking around and gathering data about whether it’s a good time to ask for a raise and how much you should request, ask people in your own industry. Your spouse, parents, and friends are your cheerleading team – of course they will encourage you to ask for a raise. You need more objective data than what your friends and family can provide.

As recruiters, we often think of raise and promotion in the same breath. Once again, it’s more about the value you bring to the organization. Is there more you have been bringing to the table? Is there still more you can continue to offer?

If you ask for a raise and the answer is “No,” don’t see that as a defeat. In sales, selling starts at no. It means “not now.” So ask your boss – what do you need to do? Can you take on more responsibilities? Is there behavior that can be adjusted? Engage your boss in the conversation about growing your career and you as an employee.

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