Undervalued & Underpaid? 7 Essential Steps To Asking For A Raise

Posted by Matt Hugdahl on 1/8/24 1:34 PM
Matt Hugdahl

how to ask for a raise

How long has it been since you last had a raise at work? We know from experience that companies are slow to increase remuneration levels, even with the increased signs of life in the employment market. If you feel undervalued, underpaid and long overdue a raise, don’t rush in all guns blazing. Take a deep breath and consider our advice below:

1. Figure out how much you are worth

Don’t approach your boss without a clear salary in mind based on your industry sector and job description. You can find out what the competition is paying its top performers by doing a brief online search. Websites such as Salary.com also enable you to assess your current “market value” which takes into account your tenure in your current role, skills, competencies and achievements.

Compensation also varies by state and company size. Larger companies traditionally have the resources to invest more in an employee's talent. They typically also need a more experienced candidate who can handle the complex structure of a larger organization. The SkyWater Salary Guides are a great resource for researching what you should earn (or pay as an employer).

Alternatively, a recruiter who specializes in your field like we do at SkyWater will offer a candid view of your salary prospects for free.

2. Build your case

Can you prove you are an above-average performer? If you are consistently making significant contributions to the bottom line, you will need proof of these contributions. Great examples include e-mails from colleagues or clients praising your input and customer service, proof of sales that were generated as a direct result of your efforts, and successful projects you’ve steered towards completion. Don’t assume your boss is aware of all of your efforts and achievements while building your case.

3. Anticipate objections 

To increase your chances of securing a raise you need to anticipate any potential objections. Is your employer profitable? What do they pay other employees in similar roles? Understanding the possible arguments will enable you to prepare solutions. Knowing when budgets are agreed will also help when it comes to timing you request for a raise.

4. Request a meeting with your boss 

By requesting a formal meeting you will demonstrate how seriously you are treating this matter. Resist the temptation to harangue them at the water cooler – it’s likely doomed for failure.

5. Rehearse

Practice asking for a raise and how you will respond to objections. Where possible, role-play with a mentor, coach, or colleague who understands the company culture; they may also anticipate objections you have overlooked.

6. Know your bottom line

Be clear on what you will settle for before you meet with your boss. Are you seeking only an agreement to your request or will you consider alternatives such as a one-off bonus, equity or other perks? You must also be clear on your next move if the response is a non-negotiable ‘no’ (or a minimal raise). Ask the reasons why you have been turned down. If it’s down to budget, request a further meeting when the budget is next reviewed, assuming it’s within a short timeframe. If the reasons are performance related, are those observations valid? If they are, then work on improving your areas of weakness. If not, it may be time to consider a move to an alternative employer.

7. Don’t hand down ultimatums

Ultimatums rarely – if ever – work. Don’t quit your job – it’s always easier to get another job while you are still employed. If you feel the situation is beyond hope, consider looking for another role using the leverage of your existing job to find one. If in doubt, talk to a specialist recruiter who will offer advice on your chances of securing a position more suited to your skills and aspirations.

As mentioned above a recruiter from SkyWater will offer a candid view on your salary prospects for free. Get in touch with us.

Find a Recruiter



Related Reading:

8 Worst Mistakes in Salary Negotiation

How To Respond When Asked About Your Salary Requirements

Why You Should Never Accept A Counter Offer

Undervalued & Underpaid? 7 Essential Tips For Asking For A Raise

No Fail Responses to Questions About Your Salary Requirements


What Should You Earn?

Download the most recent salary guide for MN careers in the Accounting & Finance field



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Topics: For Job Seekers, Salary