How to Ask for a Pay Raise

Objectively Evaluating Your Value to Your Organization

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Are you getting paid what you're worth? How do you know what you're worth? And Is your idea of worth tied to the job you do or your analysis of your personal worth?

These are the types of questions you need to explore before you contemplate asking for and negotiating a raise in pay. For many people, their compensation level is tied to their sense of self-worth. The more money the make, the more successful they are, the better at their job they are, the better person they are, or so they believe.

In reality, these salary-based value judgments can be unhelpful, and believing in them can be a major roadblock in successfully negotiating a pay raise.

When looking at your compensation you have to remember the employer's position is that your pay is based on the relative value you bring to the organization and the market rate for the job you're doing. It is not based on the qualifications you have, what you made at the last company you worked for, the financial obligations you have, or what Fred in accounting makes. What matters is what you contribute to the company. If you approach pay negotiation from any other position, your argument lacks the objectivity you need to make a solid case for yourself.


Another major consideration when asking for a pay rise is your company's policy regarding such requests. Many companies have a prescribed system for pay increases, for example, only giving them once a year as part of a formal salary review. Deviations are rare, if not impossible, and attempts to circumvent the process can even be frowned on.

If your company does have a strict system, there can be little point in trying to negotiate outside of it. Wait until your evaluation is due and then be prepared with your objective arguments and your negotiation technique, which we discuss in detail below.

Compensation Research

To determine the value of your position you need to do your research. You also need to spend time planning and preparing for your negotiation. The more confidence you have that what you are asking for is reasonable and defensible, the less likely your arguments will be refuted or ignored. Some research to consider includes:

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