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Your food, gas and other living costs have increased. But you need tips on how to ask your boss for a pay raise?

With the exception of Wall Street, payroll budgets have been constricted everywhere, and you haven’t had a raise recently.

My question for you: Can you make your case for more money?

My answer:

You can make the case for a raise. However, it’s not enough to go to your boss to lament about your higher living costs.


A raise depends on how well you’ve marketed yourself. Because a lot depends on how your employer perceives you.

If you haven’t launched a self-promotion campaign, now’s the time to start.  

Ask for a compliment via email when you do a good job. Start a file of compliments you receive from the company and customers.

Note the added duties you’ve assumed – whether they stem from layoffs of your peers – or whether your job has grown in responsibilities. 

Monetize your contributions. How have they added to the company’s bottom line?

If you can’t quantify your contributions to the company’s welfare in dollars, you’ll have to seek a promotion. (For self-promotion tips, scroll down to the “Coach’s Corner.”)

A raise depends on how well you’ve marketed yourself. Because a lot depends on how your employer perceives you.

Next eight steps

If you believe you have sufficiently marketed yourself – that you can make a case for a raise in your current position – here are eight tips: 

  1. Create a balance sheet of your contributions with two columns. List your duties and list your accomplishments. Starting with the most salient, prioritize the items in descending order.
  2. Do some homework on pay scales in your company. You should determine if your pay increase request is pragmatic for your employer. Also consider the marketplace pay scales, which is usually available on the Internet.
  3. Create your appeal. Make sure you don’t imply any threats. Acknowledge your awareness of the economy and your company’s position in the marketplace. Show how you are a solution to both of your boss’s headaches and challenges to your company. Be prepared to overcome objections. You can do this by asking your boss to restate the concerns, empathize, and state any relevant facts that support your cause.
  4. Practice your pitch in front of a trusted friend.  (Ask for feedback based on the criteria mentioned in No. 3, and make refinements. Then, practice in front of a mirror.)
  5. Make an appointment with your boss. If asked why you want to meet, tell your boss it has to do with your career at the company. If given a chance to suggest a time for the meeting, suggest options on two different days. (In most cases, the boss will select the earliest option – that’s a sign you have the boss’s attention.)
  6. Be prepared to hear and overcome objections. You can do this by asking your boss to restate the concerns, empathize, and state any relevant facts that support your cause.
  7. Ask for a commitment, such as “Can you think of any reason why I haven’t earned a raise?” Whatever the boss says, express your appreciation for the meeting.
  8. Lower your expectations about your request’s success. If you’re turned down in the meeting, remember it’s not personal, it’s just business. Inquire how it’s possible for you to make a bigger contribution to earn a raise possible in the future. Then, pat yourself on the back for making the effort, but continue to market yourself.

Hopefully, you’re successful in following the eight tips in asking your boss for a raise. If not, you’re still a winner for making the effort. It can only boost your self esteem and enhance your prospects in the future. But it’s often a sign that you need to master the art of marketing yourself.

From the Coach’s Corner, more career tips:

13 Tips on Coping with Change at Work – Conquer Your Fears — In this economy, it seems normal to fear losing your job. Plus, budget cuts, hiring freezes, revised job descriptions and getting a new boss can all be unnerving. Other changes can be sources of fear, such as fear of failure in new responsibilities, fear of looking obtuse, fear of an alcoholic coworker …

Is Your Career Stalled? Turbo Charge Your Personal Brand — Perhaps you’re struggling in a job search. You’re ambitious but underemployed, or worse – unemployed. You’re not alone. Millions of professionals are trying to solve similar puzzles. The good news is that you can rebrand yourself for a rewarding career.

8 Tips to Boost Your Career with Shameless Self-Promotion — Some of the best tips ever given to me – at a pivotal point in my career – were given to me in the 1980s by one of the nation’s pioneers in radio and TV. At the time, he was the president emeritus of a major broadcasting company, Bonneville International.

Job Hunting? Land Your Dream Job with Style and Substance — Yes, the competition for jobs is ferocious. Unless you’re in accounting, healthcare, mechanical-repair or proficient in sales, good jobs are hard to find.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
-Winston Churchill


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.