A Few Phrases to Use (And Not Use) When Asking for a Raise

So you want to ask for a raise. While asking for a raise is 100% one of the scariest things we have to do at work, don't let that fear stand in the way of asking for what you want and deserve.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the framing of the raise conversation is of the utmost importance. This is a delicate topic, so handle it as one. With that in mind, here are a few dos and don'ts when asking for a raise.

Don't Say: "I haven't had a raise in a year."

This isn't going to get you far, and will likely make you sound a bit childish. If your company gives raises annually, your boss likely doesn't need (or want) a reminder.

Do say: "My role and responsibilities have grown."

This framing calls out all the tremendous work you've done, making your raise more contingent upon your skills and less on the calendar.

Don't say: "So-and-so gets paid more than me."

This will only make you sound gossipy, whiny, and a little bit bitter. Maybe so-and-so has a master's and you don't. Maybe so-and-so is a vicious negotiator. You'll never know.

Do say: "This is what the average salary is in my job function, and here's why I deserve to make that/make more than that."

That said, you should be making industry standard so keep an eye on what the general figures are and be sure to fight for what is fair.

Don't say: "Without this raise, I'm quitting."

Nobody likes ultimatums, seriously. This is a bold and brash approach, and while it may work it will likely lead to bad blood. At the worst, your boss could say, "alright goodbye" and you'll have to make good on your threat.

Do say: "If you can't give me the raise right now, here's what I'd like instead."

Negotiate. That's fine. You might not get what you want, but it's not as hard-lined as threatening to leave.

Don't say: "I've done everything I was supposed to do."

Nobody wants to hear about the past, and doing what you are supposed to do should be bare minimum.

Do say: "I am doing X,Y, and Z and will be doing A,B, and C moving forward."

Focus on what you've done, but also what you will be doing in the future. Taking on more responsibilities is reason to get a raise, doing what you are supposed to do isn't.