5 Things To Consider When Asking For A Salary Increase

Asking for a salary increase is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, it has got to be one of the most difficult experience for an employee. It is a stressful and often awkward experience and could also be a potentially harmful one for your career if you say/do the wrong thing. If you’re not careful in how you approach your employer, you risk humiliating yourself, turning your employers against you and even pointing out your flaws instead of your strengths.

As a youth corp member (for Non-Nigerians, this is a mandatory one year service to the country after you graduate from college), I worked in a law firm where I was earning about US$130 every month. This was a huge deal for me and my other colleagues. Anyway, we later found out that some corp members in some other law firms where earning as much as US$300 and above. I, unfortunately complained to a good friend of mine not knowing that she was earning about US$58 per month. She confronted her bosses but went about it the wrong way. As you may have guessed, her salary was not increased, and she was let go after her service year with a not-so-nice recommendation.

In asking for a salary increase, there are certain things you must take into consideration. You can’t go blurting it out to your employers without thinking and analysing. You have to get your timing right, you need to do your research, so many things to consider. The last thing you want to do is to create an impression that you are an ungrateful employee.

5 Things To Consider When Asking For A Salary Increase

Here are some tips that will assist you when asking for a salary increase:

1. It’s all about timing

Timing is everything.

You need to know the best time to approach your employers for a raise. One of the worst times to ask for salary increase is when your company is downsizing and people are being laid off. It is very important to know your company’s financial standing before you ask for a raise. Walking into your bosses office after a gloomy half-yearly report to demand an increase will make you look insensitive, unprofessional, selfish and raise a red flag to your employers.

In my opinion, the only time you can ask your company for a raise during downsizing is if you’ve had to pick up a lot of work as a result or if you were promised a salary review at a point in time and that time has passed.

On the other hand, if your company is financially robust and is enjoying fat profit margins, then by all means walk in there and ask for a raise.

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2. Do your research

Before you ask for a raise, you must first do your research. Determine your market value. Study salary trends for professionals in your area and industry with similar job titles, qualifications and responsibilities. You can do a thorough search on LinkedIn Jobs for similar roles to get a benchmark salary range for your role.

After doing your research, have a figure in your mind and be ready to justify how and why you arrived at that figure. Some people advise that you add an additional 20,000 to whatever figure you have, so that after negotiations, you can still arrive at that figure you initially had – minus a couple of thousands.

Related: 6 Really Good Reasons To Quit Your Job
5 Things To Consider When Asking For A Salary Increase
3. Have a Plan B

When I say “Plan B”, I don’t mean another job. You should be ready to discuss other alternatives than money. Your company may not be willing give you that salary increase that you are demanding for as a result of budget limits, but they may be willing to throw in other perks to keep you satisfied.  This could be in the form of:

  • improvement in the promotion and bonus structure (cash and/or shares);
  • additional annual leave days;
  • educational opportunities;
  • training and conferences; etc.

In one of my friend’s firm, when you become a senior associate, you become entitled to a car and an annual vacation to anywhere in the world. This is fully paid by the firm. Suffice it to say, my friend is not in a hurry to leave the firm. So, sharpen your negotiation skills.

4. You need to show that you deserve the salary increase

I heard a story about a man who asked for an increase in salary because his personal responsibilities had increased. He had gotten married a couple of years before and him and his wife recently had quadruplets. Of course the company was very sympathetic but “personal responsibilities” was not enough reason for them to bump his pay.

Most employers give raises based on performance. Your best approach – show your worth by providing evidence of your achievements and merits in the company. Let your facts speak for you. If you have changed the way your company does something which has resulted in a cost saving, then by all means toot your horn.

There is nobody more deserving of an increase than someone who believes and shows that he has earned it.

Related: Working Hard Is Not Enough, You Need To Work Smart Too! 5 Ways To Do It
5 Things To Consider When Asking For A Salary Increase
5. Your employer may say no, so be prepared

What’s the worst that can happen? Your boss may say no. Either way, you’d have learnt to appreciate your worth and advocate for yourself. After all, if you don’t ask, you will not get. A no now can be a yes later.

What you should not do is to throw tantrums and complain all day long. Nothing worse than a disgruntled employee. Continue to work hard and if you feel the need to look for another job then ensure you do not destroy your relationship with your current employer.

You can also start a side job to help supplement your income.

Related: 7 Flexible Side Hustles To Supplement Your “9 – 5”

Another thing I forgot to mention above is that you should never be the first to name a number. This is one of the cardinal rules of negotiation. You will definitely be asked by your bosses, but try to deflect this. If all efforts to deflect this isn’t working, then give a range which you’d be happy with if they offer the lowest of that range.

So, do not be afraid to ask. Just ensure that your i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. In the words of Francis Chan “Our greatest fear should not be of failure… but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

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What other tips do you have? Have you ever asked for a salary increase? How did it go?




  • Very timely post! I am in the process of asking for a raise in a few months and believe me when I say that I really needed to read these tips. Thanks a lot and I’ll be coming back to read it again!


  • Great tips! Timing and being sure that you deserve the raise are absolutely key. Xx