How to successfully ask for a raise, and not kill your career

People often name death and public speaking as their two greatest fears, but almost as nerve-wracking as the latter is asking your boss for a raise.

Adding to the anxiety is the fact that it could prove fatal, to your job, if done improperly. But done appropriately there is actually little risk and potential reward.

The following 5 tips will help you navigate this sensitive conversation successfully:


Do your homework and research so that you have a frame of reference to compare your current compensation. The Internet has unveiled the cloak of secrecy around compensation -- and today it is fairly easy to find information on salary ranges for your job, in your field and region.

Be thorough and recognize that not all jobs and people are created equal. Factors such as experience in the field, tenure with the company, region of the country, size and success of the business are all legitimate reasons to pay people differently for similar jobs.


Whether proposing marriage or breaking bad news, timing is key in every major conversation in life and asking for a raise is no different.

Bosses don't like surprises, and the topic is too important to raise in passing down the corridor.

It may seem obvious, but countless times employees demonstrate they have tin ear with respect to the signals about the performance of the business.

Asking for a raise during difficult economic times for the company, in advance of subsequent to layoffs will likely not result in a good outcome.

When the time is right -- and your boss isn't preoccupied with a crisis -- schedule a meeting. If asked what you want to talk with her about tell your boss the general topic is your career.


In advance of the meeting make a list of your accomplishments over the past year, including specifics about such things as how you saved the company money, generated revenue and profit, assumed more responsibilities, etc.

The key is to demonstrate that you are avalued, high performing employee regularly going above and beyond your day-to-day job.

Add the competitive research you did on compensation and if you can demonstrate an inequity too, then the chances of your request being approved improves greatly.


No matter how compelling the argument may seem to you, be prepared for a "no". Be gracious and professional.

Compensation is the single biggest cost to an employer and you are probably not the only one asking for a raise.

Business performance and budget constraints are also mitigating factors, so a "no" doesn't necessarily mean that you aren't valued -- it may just mean "not now."


Don't get emotional and never issue an ultimatums that you will leave the company, etc.

Bosses don't like to be threatened and if you make the mistake of issuing an ultimatum you had better be prepared to follow through on your threat.

It's a much better idea to just thank your boss for listening and ask what him you can do to earn reconsideration at some point in the future.

Finally, think long and hard before you act on the desire to ask for more money. Everyone will say they "need" more money if asked, but that is not a business case for deserving more money. And remember, a high quality of work life doing what you love to do, is more valuable than the net increase in compensation you might earn somewhere else in a less fulfilling environment.

Gregory Giangrande is Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Dow Jones. He writes a weekly column for the New York Post and Fox News Opinion offering career advice.Watch Giangrande dispense career advice Fridays on " Live."