SURVEY SAYS: Asking for a Raise

Even if I felt I deserved it, I have never felt comfortable asking an employer to give me a salary raise.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Have you ever asked an employer for a raise, and if so, how did it turn out?”

The majority of responding readers (59%) have asked an employer for a raise, while 41% have not. Of those who asked for a raise, 71.4% said it turned out positively, and 28.6% said it turned out negatively.

In verbatim comments, some readers expressed that you have to do your homework and bring along proof of what others in your position are paid as well as proof of your accomplishments to confidently argue your case for a raise. For some readers, they got what they asked for and more, for others, even if they got a raise, it was not up to what they expected. Among those denied a raise, a couple went on to find new jobs. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “People who really deserve raises should not have to ask for them. Their performance should speak for itself. If budgetary or political reasons are holding back deserved raises, then people need to decide if they are willing to try to move on to other opportunities in order to earn what they feel they deserve.”

Thanks to all who participated in the survey!


I entered the mtg with the compensation guidelines in hand & supporting documentation to prove I was in a lower "box" than I should have been, then proceeded to state that I would like to be placed in the "comp box" I belonged in. Back & forth for a bit, but I held my ground because I had proof that I was being underpaid. Within a few weeks, I had an increase proposed -- but it was still below the appropriate box & so I declined & re-stated the facts. A few weeks later, I was offered a salary within the appropriate range for my tenure and experience, per the guidelines.

Of course, I asked for a raise back in college. I have not asked another boss since I started my professional career,

I was told that I was receiving the maximum amount that they were willing to pay for the position, so I found a position at another firm that included a 20% pay increase.

I too have never felt comfortable asking. Luckily, I have always received them during the course of time.

I was an office summer intern, wanting a FT position. A FT employee stopped coming to work because she couldn't keep up with the volume. She'd push stacks of papers into a drawer and go home in tears. I was hired to take her place. I created my own processes and restored order to the position. Had no trouble keeping up. I later found out she was making 5 cents more per hour than I was. I asked for the 5 cents raise and was told no, the job pay was commensurate with others in the area. That's when my new job search began.

While I have never asked for a raise, there are numerous times I have been the beneficiary of a peer asking for raise. Working for a nonprofit, equity is very important, so there have been times when a peer could not receive a salary adjustment without the organization awarding me a similar adjustment.

Asked a year ago. Still waiting for response.......... Since I'm still employed, it wasn't completely negative!

I once asked an employer for a raise. My supervisor said that our company does not give mid-year raises unless someone is promoted. I reminded her of my accomplishments and the extra projects I had been working on and how those contributions had made a difference. It took a few months but I received a one-time bonus. if you ask for a raise and quickly get it, does that mean that you were underpaid to begin with?

The best way I've found to ask for a raise is to search for better opportunities, and let it be known that you are and why.

In the days when companies were just beginning to think about treating women equally, I found that I was no longer making half of what a male peer was making; instead, it had changed to less than half. So I went to Human Resources. I was honest and acknowledged that the male peer might be making more of a contribution than I was, but it certainly wasn't double my contribution and I had to wonder whether my gender had anything to do with it. The company did a study of others in my position at comparable companies and soon I received a huge increase.

I asked for a raise at my first job when I was in high school. We were consolidating two restaurants and when I was introduced to the new manager I greeted him with "Hi my name is X and I would like a raise." It caught him off guard, but he asked to talk to me later so I could give my reasons and I subsequently received my raise! I think if you feel strongly about something, do your homework and state your case.

I have had some of my team ask for raises, and it isn't always negative - sometimes you overlook somebody for a while or mentally put them in a certain category. I've even given raises sometimes after these discussions. But the annoying person who always asks - no, I never give this person an inch or they'll keep asking for a mile.

My employer gives raises annually as long as performance meets expectations. Since my performance always meets and exceeds expectations, I have not had to ask for a raise in 30 years.

I showed my employer the economic results I produced for the firm, described the value clients received from my personal efforts, and clearly stated that I deserved to be paid more for the work I'm producing -- and it worked!! If you don't ask, you have a 100% chance of not getting what you didn't ask for.

Of course I asked. I work alongside tons of people who are too timid, and they simply do not ever get any raises (and are grossly underpaid). Unless you work for a tiny company that genuinely cares about its employees, I don't think employees will likely get raises without asking (outside merit/cola raises). The company doesn't exist to throw fistfuls of money at you for no reason... it exists to make profits.

Verbatim (cont.)

Around here the upper management keep the money for themselves. They don't like to spread the wealth among their employees.

I was 20 working on the grounds crew of a golf course and found out that a couple of the newer but older workers were earning the same $5 per hour that I was. I asked the boss about it and he said that they were trying to support their families. I asked if I was a better worker and deserved more - he agreed and bumped my rate to $5.50. In my professional career, a couple of job offers from other companies have had the same positive results with counter-offers from my company.

I'm not sure whether to say it was positive or negative. Yes, I got a raise but it wasn't as much as I thought I deserved and it was given like my boss was doing me a favor. In fact, I was reminded at the time that "no one is irreplaceable."

It can be a bit uncomfortable to ask for a raise, but it worked for me! I got a raise AND a bonus!

I've mostly felt like I've been fairly compensated so have never had the need to ask for a raise. Personally I would only do it if I had a good case (not just I've been here for X years and I think I deserve more). It can't hurt to ask if you have the data to back it up!

It seems like a super awkward conversation and I usually avoid those. If I felt I was unfairly paid, I would likely look for a better opportunity.

People who really deserve raises should not have to ask for them. Their performance should speak for itself. If budgetary or political reasons are holding back deserved raises, then people need to decide if they are willing to try to move on to other opportunities in order to earn what they feel they deserve.

I don't think it usually will produce good results. If it is in the budget, they would have given it to you.

I was in a mid-career position in New York City and considering a job change due to high cost of living. I discussed this need with my management and they provided a special salary increase for retention

When I asked for a raise (I knew I was underpaid), my employer told me to get an offer from another firm and that they would match it. I did as he suggested, but instead accepted the offer from the other firm and have enjoyed a fantastic career.

I was literally laughed out of my boss's office!

I feel the same way. I would be too uncomfortable to make that request. That said, I know many people who have successfully done so.

I've only done it once - and that was when I had a competing job offer on the table that I really didn't want to take, but the money was too much too ignore, and my boss knew that my heart (and mind were in the right place). Honestly, for the very most part I think if you have to ask for a raise, it will - sooner or later - work against you, even though as a manager I have been willing/able to look past that. You had just better really trust your boss - and your boss' boss - if you do.

It took some courage - but when I asked, I received - no kidding here - a 22% raise!!!! I never asked again - how lucky can you get?

It is hard. I had the numbers together for what my department's expenses were and what we brought in. Based on the math, my boss agreed that I was underpaid.

I had assumed new responsibilities which enabled my manager to focus on other things, so he was agreeable to a raise.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Strategic Insight or its affiliates.