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How To Negotiate A Raise

Hopefully in exchange for some help, I have to fully admit I don't know much about how to negotiate a raise. I think I've always thought of it in a fairly unexamined way, such as - you ask for a raise, your supervisor asks some questions and later comes back with something and that's about it.

I work for a 150 person software company and, from talking to others here, don't really get the rhyme or reason of it. In fact, I don't get it beyond just here. I also don't think anyone here gets a raise without asking for it. Our company generally doesn't do annual reviews, but I understand some individuals do.

What's your experience on what actually works and what to for sure not do? What contributes to getting more of a raise? I appreciate the help, as it has been a couple of years since my last 3% raise.


Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

You need to first understand of value. What are people getting paid for your position in other like-kind businesses, locally, metropolitan area and nationally.

From this basis you can tell if you are under/over or paid at market rates.

Then sit down with your boss and request an adjustment.

Have you data to back you up and be prepared for a "no". So, you need a plan "B" and plan "C".

Don't get visibly angry because you are liable to do something you'll regret. If the discussion is not going your way, ask for a postponement or a revisit of the issues in so many days, weeks, months.

Good luck!

Alan Ehrlich
Title: Turnaround Specialist
Company: Self-employed
LinkedIn Profile
(Turnaround Specialist, Self-employed) |

I put this into the 'managing your boss' relationship category. What has worked best for me in the past is 2 - 4 weeks prior to my review, I set up a meeting with my manager, not just pop into his/her office, but schedule an appointment letting them know I want to talk about my upcoming review, and give them a memo highlighting my contributions to the company in the last year and when possible, attaching a $$ value to each item. Why should you expect to receive more than the standard raise if you are 'just doing your job.' Your manager is not going to remember all the special projects you took on, the nights you stayed late and missed your child's Christmas concert, the cross-team meetings, etc, if you don't remind your manager. The overused buzzword is that you are your own brand. You need to sell yourself to your manager and give them the ammunition to go to HR and defend why you should receive more than a standard raise. Even better, you might get a promotion and even bigger raise.

Too many employees fall into the trap of accepting the company standard raise of 2 - 3% per year. Larger companies, Fortune 500's, often connect the raise % to your overall evaluation, 5 star employees get bigger raises than 4 star, etc. Over time, your raises don't keep up with market rates until the delta becomes large enough that you think about jumping ship. Sometimes it is a company's way of 'suggesting' you move on, other times the company just depends on the inertia of most workers to accept what they get.

The most absurd instance I ever encountered of pay not keeping up with the market was when I was with Marine Midland Bank. The year after I was hired, the bank raised the minimum hiring salary by about $4m to keep up with market rates & the competition. I think I was hired at about $18m (this was a long time ago), the minimum salary for new hires jumped to $22m. Did MMB raise the base pay for anyone below the new minimum, nope. Should it have come as a surprise when most of the folks hired within the previous 12 months jumped ship to a competitor for an immediate $4m raise?

Darryl Delwo, CPA, CMA
Title: Controller
Company: Sulvaris Inc
(Controller, Sulvaris Inc) |

As suggested, understand your market rates. Since your company seems to make compensation and reviews more of an adhoc process, you will have to make the case for the value creation you are providing the company (what did you save the company eg through efficiencies , or how did you increase the revenue).

You really are in a negotiation stage. With that you must understand your main goal, as well as what goal will be acceptable to you. With negotiations you must also understand the company will have a main goal, as well as what they are willing to accept, which includes "no raise". Your whole negotiation is wrapped around how do you bring the company to your side, your goal. This is where detailing your value creation is important. Detail what you have done for them lately, and what you will be providing them going forward (however be careful here as you don't want to identify all the areas of improvement, in case you may walk from the company if you get a "no", as this is your intellectual property). You want to show that the market rates may not apply to your scenario.

You may suggest that there are regular intervals on your performance review, especially since this is an adhoc process as it is. Also important in negotiations, is if you have some company colleagues on your side who can vouch for your work (this should be an ongoing exercise).

As mentioned no matter what the result, try to not let the emotion build as this may lead to potential disastrous results. Always leave "thanking" them for their time and hearing you out.

Very important to always document your discussions, not just during this process, but throughout your working days. Journalizing is a key to pulling prior information which is not always documented (ie emails), and allow recollection with a specific date, subject matter and individuals.

ArLyne Diamond
Title: Owner - President
Company: Diamond Associates
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

It sounds to me like you could use a mentor inside the company - someone not in your department but who you could get to know and trust. You could ask that person to help you understand the rhythm of the company and how people succeed within it.

Short of that - be brave. List your achievements, do some research about salary range for what you do in a company of approximately the same size, and after doing all your homework, make an appointment with your decision maker.

Start out by saying how much you enjoy your job and the company - and would like to see the potential of your future in it. Explain that you have recently exceeded all expectations - by showing your accomplishments - and then asking for a raise.

I would not make any threats - leave all doors open at this point - but know in your own mind what you will do if you don't get what you want.

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Here is my advice...... BEFORE you ask for a raise, find out first the policies and the rationale (or absence of it) for them. TALK TO YOU HR. From there you can set a strategy on how you will ask for a raise and who you need to talk to. Believe me, for a 150 person firm, you are NOT the first one to have that kind of issue. Also, for a software company, it is rare that there are NO performance reviews, raises, etc.


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