6 Things You Shouldn’t Do When Asking for a Raise

Table of Contents

There is probably no situation in the life of an employee that’s more awkward and stressful than asking the boss for a raise. If you’ve never done it before, you might be afraid to ask for one, simply because you absolutely have no idea how to approach the situation. Having cold feet might lead to missing your opportunity to ask for more money. But at the same time, if you approach the situation the wrong way, there are many worse things that can happen. You could risk embarrassing yourself and making yourself look bad. This could not only guarantee that you won’t get that raise, it could also increase your chances of being fired. Most employees will agree there are many other things more important for workplace motivation than money. But at the end of the day, the importance of making more money and earning a living is hard to downplay.

If you are adamant about asking for a raise, more times than not, it’s more important to know what not to say than it is to know what to say. Here are six things that you absolutely should not do when asking your boss for more money.


Anyone working in any vertical today needs to realize that times have been tough recently. The recent recession was a serious one and many businesses had to scale back in order to survive it. Having said that, you can then see why coming into the boss’s office and asking for a raise “because you haven’t gotten one in over two years” might not be the best idea. You are trying to convince your employers that you are an excellent worker, someone who is worth investing in. You’re not going to do that by complaining right off the bat. You want your employers to see you in a positive light, complaining about the fact that you haven’t received a raise in a while makes you come off as self-absorbed – the very antithesis of a team player.

Mention Time

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. No one earns a raise just by staying with a company for a prolonged period of time. Raises are earned by being a good worker, not by staying under the radar and being employed for as long as possible. So mentioning that you have worked “X” amount of years or months and therefore deserve a pay hike is not a good idea. Some employers like to schedule worker evaluations after a certain period of time, however. This is the only instance in which time can really be a factor. However, even in this type of situation, your performance is more important than your tenure.

Make Threats

The only way making threats like “raise or I’m gone” works is if you are an absolutely irreplaceable leader on your team with an advanced skill set that is incredibly hard to find in other candidates. Even if you’re in that type of a situation, it’s not the recommended way to
ask for a raise. If you are truly someone who cannot be replaced and you haven’t had a raise in a long time, you might get your raise, but you might burn some bridges in the process. You are better off using a less aggressive and angry approach. While we do not recommend it, if you truly want to take this route, you better be ready to stick to your guns. Making threats about leaving and then not following through with them if you don’t get the raise will pretty much guarantee that you’ll never have any leverage when asking for a raise again.

Use Your Personal Issues

Do you really think the fact that you just leased a new car or that you have a baby on the way is really your employer’s concern? It isn’t. While these types of issues are very important to you, they are your concerns, not your bosses. Don’t ask for a raise by telling your boss that something has happened in your life she requires you to earn more money. And while these types of issues are justifiable reasons for wanting more money, they are not justifiable reasons for getting your boss to pay up. Focus on your professional accomplishments, don’t rely on a sob story and a plea for sympathy because it’s not going to work.

Be Ridiculous With Your Request

It’s important to not get carried away when it comes to how big of a raise you want to get. In order to do this the right way, you are going to have to do some research on the subject. Do a little bit of digging to see what the average salary in your region is for a person who does the same type of work that you do. That will give you a better understanding of what type of raise you can request. But in the end, it’s all about using good judgment and common sense when determining how much of a raise you can potentially ask for without getting laughed out of your boss’s office.

Mention the Wages of Others

Comparing what you make to the salary of others in your company is the cardinal sin of asking for a raise. First of all, technically, you shouldn’t even know what others are making according to the policies of most employers. Sure, people talk around the workplace, so it might not really be a secret, but still, asking for a raise by comparing your salary to someone else’s is an absolutely terrible idea.

As mentioned previously, it’s all about your performance. Don’t compare yourself to others, focus on what you are doing well and try to focus on better presenting the concrete reasons for which you believe that you deserve the raise.

Photo Credit: WOCChat, iStock, and Shutterstock

Share this article with a friend
error: Content is protected !!

Create an account to access this functionality.
Discover the advantages