Inflation Killing Your Paycheck? Here Are the 5 Best Ways to Ask For a Raise

Two people talking at a table in an office meeting room.

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A little prep can go a long way when asking for a raise.

Key points

  • It's important to know what you're worth, both in terms of the market and your own accomplishments.
  • Choose your timing wisely and stay respectful.
  • You may need to change companies to get the pay raise you want.

With the price of, well, everything on the rise, our paychecks simply aren't going as far as they did even a few years ago. If your bank accounts are feeling the sting of inflation -- and its sneaky cousin, shrinkflation -- you're faced with two options: spend less or make more.

On paper, the simplest way to make more money is to get a raise from your current employer. But there's a fair bit of space between on paper and in reality. Asking for a raise can be a daunting proposition, so we've put together five tips on the best way to approach the task.

1. Do your research

Long before you set the meeting with your bosses, you'll need to do a bit of research on the market rates for your role. Asking for something far outside the bounds of reason is the quickest way to get a hard "No."

Check out job sites -- Indeed, LinkedIn, etc. -- to see what companies are offering new hires in your position. You can also search sites like Glassdoor for salaries reported by workers. Your coworkers may also be good resources. Oh, and don't forget social media; a Reddit post in the right forum can be surprisingly informative.

Keep in mind both your location and your level of experience. People with more years on the job or in areas with a high cost of living may make more than their entry-level or small-town counterparts.

2. Know your stats

Few managers are going to simply hand out raises to anyone who asks. Instead, you'll need to present a convincing argument for why you deserve more pay. To help build your case, put together notes on your personal accomplishments.

This could include how many projects you've completed recently or how much money you've made for the company. You may also want to mention extra work or responsibilities you've taken on beyond your role. And be sure to include any client recommendations or other commendations you've received.

3. Practice the ask

If you're at all nervous about your meeting -- or even if you're not -- it can't hurt to practice it a bit on your own, or even with a friend or family member. Figure out how you'll start the conversation, and consider answers to questions they may ask.

You should also give some thought to how you'll respond to getting turned down. Avoid becoming argumentative or responding in anger. Instead, you can ask for feedback on your performance and establish a pathway to a future raise.

Be mindful of the chain of command as well. While you may be talking with your direct manager, they may not have the power to unilaterally hand out raises. If you're given a "maybe" or "I'll see," accept it gracefully.

4. Pick your time

Choosing the right moment to request a raise can be just as important as how you ask. For example, if your company has cyclical profits -- such as making more money in the fourth quarter and less in the first -- then time your request during a more profitable time.

You should also be mindful of the people element here. Despite how some may appear, managers are people, too. If your boss is under undue stress, they may be less agreeable to forking over more money. You may want to avoid asking for a raise if your team is in the middle of a big project or your location is about to be invaded -- I mean visited -- by corporate.

5. Be respectful

Few people respond well to disrespect -- particularly from subordinates. No matter how much you may be due a raise, your boss may get their hackles up if you are rude or demanding. You should also avoid whining, arguing, or making threats.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't be firm in your arguments for why you deserve more money. But be sure to keep your tone civil and your responses polite.

If all else fails, shop around

Although it's often preferable to avoid a job search, sometimes it's the best way to get a better salary. Indeed, workers who switch jobs tend to receive a higher pay increase than those who stay in their current roles.

If your raise request doesn't go well, it may be time to dust off your resume and start shopping around for a new job. We're in a workers' market -- might as well take advantage of it if you can.

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