How to properly negotiate for a Pay Raise

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The average annual pay raise in the United states was only 3.1% and that was the highest it had been since 2008. The inflation rate for that same year was 2.3%, which means the average person only had a net increase of 0.8% in their actual purchasing power. It is a commonly accepted fact that job hopping is a much faster way to increase your salary than working a long time at a single company. However, this may not be practical, for example you may work in a small market or are limited by geographical area. This doesn’t mean you have to settle for little to no pay increase. If you’re continuing to work, get experience and get better at what you do, then you are becoming more valuable and you should be compensated for that. But the problem for many people is having the right approach, here I share some tips on how to make a solid case for getting a pay increase:

Document Everything

Over the course of a year it’s easy to forget what you have done. When you’re going to talk about why you deserve a raise, it helps if you are able to speak to things you have accomplished throughout the last year that are valuable to your employer. If you plan to stay at a company for a long time, record the big projects and assignments that you do on a weekly basis. If you do this every week when it comes time to discuss a pay raise, you will have a list of accomplishments demonstrating the value you added to the company and it makes your case much stronger.

Demonstrate Growth

You want to demonstrate how you improved over the period that you have worked at the company. Primarily, I would aim to show how I’ve taken on more responsibility. If you started leading projects, training other employees, or developed any proprietary software for the company. By showing how you are doing more now than you did previously, you have a basis for asking for more compensation. You also want to mention any professional development you did, things like certifications, training or reading professional books.

Be proactive

If you wait until your annual review to state how much of a pay raise you want, it’s probably too late. They already have an idea of what they want to give you and it’s going to be hard to negotiate it at that point. I would suggest setting up a meeting with your manager 2-3 months before the review and letting them know what type of raise you are expecting. Be prepared to outline why you think you deserve that raise.

Things to avoid

Avoid Giving Ultimatums

Even if you are considering going to a different company, giving an ultimatum is not likely to get you a better raise unless your company is very dependent on you. If your manager feels like you are trying to bully them into giving you a raise, they are not likely to give it to you and in some cases they will call your bluff and ask you to leave the company. So you want to avoid this, unless you are very confident that you will be hard to replace. 

Don’t get emotional

Understand, even if you are completely deserving of the raise and present yourself well,  sometimes the company just isn’t willing to budge. Especially if you come to the company in a junior position, it can be hard to get people to see you as a competent professional because in their mind you will always be that new hire who didn’t have experience or wasn’t knowledgeable. You aren’t responsible for their bias, don’t let a “no” get you emotional, present your case for why you deserve the raise and then sit back and see what happens. Worst case scenario, you can use your increased experience and what you have learned to get another job that pays you more.


When it comes to getting a pay raise at a company you work for, the main thing is to demonstrate your accomplishments. You want to keep a record of the big projects/tasks that you work on so that you can demonstrate your value to the company. You also want to be proactive in the negotiation, don’t wait until the annual review comes up, be told what your raise is and then try to dispute it. You want to go to your manager ahead of time and let them know what raise you’re expecting, why you deserve it and back that up with work that you’ve done. However, you need to understand that even if you have a great case, if they don’t want to pay you there’s no way to force them. You need to be willing to move on and go somewhere that will pay you what you think you are worth.