Asking for a raise can be a dreaded conversation for many employees, even if they deserve it. The simple ask of a pay increase requires vulnerability from employees and the understanding that their employer may not be in agreement over a compensation increase.

6 Steps to Get Ready to Ask for a Raise

However, discussing your salary shouldn’t feel like a taboo topic. To feel more comfortable, incorporate the following steps to help decrease your stress levels and increase your confidence.

1. Ask yourself why you deserve a raise.

Most – if not all of us – want to be paid more in their jobs. Earning more money allows us to feel more financially secure, having greater flexibility to create lasting memories, and providing more for ourselves and our loved ones.

With that said, receiving a pay increase is easier said than done. Most employers are cognizant of their bottom line and often do not freely provide salary increases to their staff. You’ll need to convince your employer that you are worth more.

To be successful in this ask, your first step is to develop concrete arguments that back up your request. Spend time rereading your job description to understand what roles and responsibilities you are doing now versus what you were originally asked to do. If you’ve either gone beyond the call of duty by taking on extra work and responsibilities or if your current workload carries greater risk, then you stand a much better chance of winning him or her over.

2. Find out your market value.

If you are asking for a salary increase, base your argument on well-researched facts. An important part of this is to figure out the market value of your current role. There are multiple ways you can find this information, ranging from chatting with other professionals in your field, asking your mentor for advice, or using an aggregate salary calculator, which provides personalized salary estimates based on data.

Once you’ve determined the market value for your position, you can adjust this according to your unique situation. Factors to consider may include the size of your employer and whether you possess the relevant qualifications for the position.

3. Emphasize your worth.

If you want a salary increase, you’ll want to provide your organization with solid reasons why you’re worth being paid more. This should be a mix of how your responsibilities have shifted since your last pay increase and how you’ve created value. The best way to back up your claim is to provide quantifiable data that tells the story of your worth. This is also the time to mention any accolades you might have received from clients, colleagues, and managers.

4. Find the right time to negotiate.

Timing is a critical factor in your ability to negotiate a pay increase. You’ll want to keep in mind the financial situation of the company. Are they flushed with cash or are they facing budget cuts? You should also know your current standing within the organization when you received your last pay raise, and how close are you to the next salary review cycle. Some of the best times to negotiate include when you take on a major project, when you wrapped up a major project successfully, when your role or responsibilities significantly changes, or when you are a few months before your annual review.

5.  Know what you can negotiate.

Depending on your organization’s financial situation, they may not be able to provide the salary increase you desire. If they cannot accommodate your request, it’s a good idea to consider what other forms of compensation can be included. These can be additional paid time off, performance-based bonuses, stock options (if applicable), work from home flexibility, and other fringe benefits.

6. Be prepared to hear “no”.

Not everyone who asks for a raise gets one. There could be a variety of reasons why your organization passed, whether it’s because you haven’t been in a position for an allotted amount of time, you haven’t distinguished yourself enough, or the company just doesn’t have the money to offer you a raise right now.

If the conversation doesn’t go as planned, don’t feel discouraged. Instead, ask “What do I need to do now to earn a future raise?” This will allow you and your supervisor to discuss concrete actions you can take to place yourself in a better position to earn a raise. If they aren’t able to provide definitive steps or if they state you’re already at the high end of the salary range for your position, it might be time to pursue new opportunities.

Keep Your Eye on the Landscape

To get an idea of the security-clearance jobs you may qualify for, check out our job board where you can search based on experience, location, job industry and type, and the level of security clearance required. Knowing the landscape can frame your view of the competition and frame your raise request. Keeping abreast of opportunities can keep you ready to pivot if your organization rejects your request for more compensation.

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Brandon Osgood is a strategic communications and digital marketing professional based out of Raleigh, NC. Beyond being a passionate storyteller, Brandon is an avid classical musician with dreams of one day playing at Carnegie Hall. Interested in connecting? Email him at