San Diego Union Tribune

Before You Step Into the Boss’ Office to Ask for a Raise, Make a Plan

So you’re doing great. Heck, better than great. What’s next?

It’s a tricky subject. Nobody likes doing it. It’s hard to tell a boss that you believe you are worth more than you’re being paid, but frankly there are times and situations when doing so makes absolutely perfect sense. The rule of thumb is that you should be in a job for at least one year before asking for a raise.

Before you step into the boss’ office and say, “I’d like to discuss the potential of a raise,” do a few things first and make a plan. It should include:

Gather supporting evidence.

Build a case of facts. Collect any positive emails, letters or other documents extolling your work from clients, co-workers or others.

Review your skills, responsibilities and accomplishments.

Assess them honestly. Look for weaknesses or places where your boss might question you. Figure out your answers in advance.

Know your market value.

How much is someone in your position typically paid. Where does your current salary fit into this picture? Salary sites like and can help.

Be willing to negotiate.

You want to have a figure in mind for a raise, but it might not legitimately be possible for the company to meet that expectation. Negotiate in good faith and expect the same from your boss. If your boss can’t satisfy your requested raise, perhaps you can get other perks sweetened: additional vacation days or permission to work from home one day a week, for example. Go into the meeting with a list of options other than cash that mean a lot to you but don’t cost the company money.

Be professional.

Make an appointment. Don’t corner your boss in the elevator or ambush him at lunch. Make a formal presentation, with all of the necessary bells and whistles. And give the boss time to consider your requests and to get back to you. He may have to get permission from his boss or just get comfortable with the changes you asked for.

And conversely, here are a few things you should not do:

Don’t say you “need” a raise.

No boss wants to hear about your rent increase. Do show why you deserve one.

Don’t be afraid.

If you can prove you’re worth it, then you are worth it and your boss is likely to welcome the chance to reward you.

Don’t make threats.

Scare tactics don’t prove anything except that maybe you’re not the right person for the job. If you threaten to leave if you don’t get the raise, someone may call your bluff and show you the door.

Don’t beg.

You want to appear confident in yourself and in your value to the company.

Don’t ask for a raise just because someone else got one.

Unless it is an issue for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, every employee should be compensated in relation to his or her own value to the company.

If you’ve done your homework and the timing is right, a requested raise will likely be yours. Congratulations!

But if it doesn’t happen or you don’t get everything you asked for and there are lots of legitimate reasons why you didn’t—do not be disconsolate. It’s not the end of the world. Ask your boss for reasons why a raise was not possible. Ask if there is something you can do to better your chances of earning more in the future. Accept any feedback with a professional demeanor and a determination to use the knowledge to improve your value to the company.

Phil Blair is co-founder of Manpower San Diego and author of “Job Won.” Contact: