How to Ask for a Bigger Raise than Offered

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So, you are wondering how to ask for a bigger raise than offered. You’ve come to the right place. 

You’ve worked hard at your job, meeting all your deadlines and going above and beyond the job description. Your boss agrees you are doing well and deserve a raise.

You can’t hide your excitement, but that quickly fizzles when they drop the figures in front of you. This raise is smaller than expected. 

Now what?

The American workforce is no stranger to this situation. Seventy percent of 160,060+ employees surveyed by Payscale received a raise after asking. Thirty-nine percent of these workers received what they requested, while 31% got less than expected. 

Asking for a bigger raise than offered can be emotionally fraught. You’re worried about what your manager will think or that things will turn awkward and uncomfortable at work. 

Despite the fears, mastering to ask for more money is critical to a young professional’s journey to financial freedom. You must be careful and thoughtful about what you say and how you say it. That requires planning, research, and preparation.

This blog will explain when and how to ask for a bigger raise than offered.

Is it Rude to Ask for a Bigger Raise?

No. Asking for a bigger raise than offered is part of a young professional’s career. Your boss is probably expecting it, and unless you do it awfully, they won’t think you’re rude or greedy.

You can expect them to have mixed emotions about giving raises. The company has to budget for these additional expenses. That could affect its bottom line and future profits.

But while most employees don’t look forward to asking for a bigger raise, you can do it in a way that makes both parties feel good about the outcome. 

What to Do When Your Raise is Smaller Than Expected

Here’s how to prepare for a conversation about a bigger raise:

  • Compare what you got vs. what you expected
  • Determine why your raise was smaller
  • Build a case for why you should earn more

Compare what you got with what you expected

The first step is to have the numbers in mind. If you expected an 18% bump and they’re offering 8%, there’s a pretty big room for negotiation.

However, pursue the extra dollars with reasonable expectations. If you’re asking for a $10,000 raise while your job priorities were off track based on a recent performance review, there’s not much chance that your employer will be willing to grant your request. 

Your requested amount should also make sense for your market value—your ideal income based on your role, experience, and location. Use online resources such as Glassdoor, Salary.com, and Payscale to learn how your current salary stacks up against the industry standard for your role. 

Another important step is to ensure the raise accounts for inflation. In February 2022, the inflation rate surged to a 40-year high of 7.9%. The typical 3% raise will undoubtedly set up many American employees for a lower purchasing power. 

Try to determine why your raise was smaller

The second step to how to ask for a bigger raise than offered is to find out the reason for the low number. I believe the best way to get this information is to ask your manager directly but not arrogantly. 

Questions you might consider when determining the reason for the differential include:

  • How did they set your salary when they hired you? 
  • Did they benchmark it against market rates? 
  • Did they benchmark it against other employees in similar positions? 
  • What are the typical raises at your company?

If it’s about performance, what metrics merited a raise? Were there specific goals you had to meet? 

Keep in mind that the amount of the raise is not necessarily a reflection of your performance. If the company is having a bad year financially, it has little to no choice but to ration its raises. After all, not every company will grow at the same rate or do well every year.

Make a case for why your salary should be at a certain number

Demonstrating your value to the company makes it easier to score a pay bump. 

Start with documenting your wins. Focus on the outcomes, regardless of the impulse to emphasize the effort and time the accomplishments devoured.

Instead of “I spent six months working on X project,” say “I helped increase revenue by 15 percent,” or “I helped the company save X amount of money by streamlining a workflow.” The more precise you can be about dollars and cents, the better.

Do some research on what other people with comparable achievements make in similar positions. And if possible, find out what kind of raises they’ve received recently. Ideally, this comparison should consider performance-based raises rather than cost-of-living adjustments or standard step increases if such exist in your company.

Of course, salary is a touchy subject that many employers strive to keep under wraps. However, the employment laws allow employees to discuss wages without fear of retaliation from their employer. That way, they can determine if their pay aligns with the market rates and mitigate any pay inequity within their organization. 

Regardless, it pays to approach money conversation with your boss with some formality and politeness. 

How Do You Politely Ask for a Bigger Raise Than Offered?

So, you’ve conducted thorough research, prepared your case, and feel confident that the company could afford more money. Here are some tips on how to ask for a bigger raise than offered:

  • Ask at an appropriate time
  • Practice your negotiation
  • Frame it as a desire to understand the reasoning behind the amount of raise
  • Keep your financial struggles out of the conversation
  • Reaffirm your commitment to the company
  • Consider the alternatives

Ask at an appropriate time

When you ask for a raise, make sure the timing is right. Your boss will be more receptive when in good spirits and not preoccupied with other problems. 

It’s not just about your manager’s calendar. You want to be mindful of your company’s situation. Money conversations are easier when the company is doing well. Similarly, don’t raise the subject just as the company is laying people off or not meeting financial goals. See: How to Ask for a Raise When the Company Is Not Doing Well Financially?

Don’t spring the subject on your boss. They’ll appreciate receiving a heads up via email highlighting your objective for the meeting. And please refer to it as a “discussion” or “meeting,” not a negotiation. 

Practice your negotiation 

The last thing you want is to be caught off guard during your salary negotiation meeting. It’s important to rehearse your pitch and expect tough questions during the conversation.

Practice with a friend or family member who can provide honest feedback. That way, you’ll know precisely what to say and how to act when the time comes.

It’s common for people to agree with their boss to end an awkward conversation — don’t fall victim to that trap! Practice staying calm and confident while sticking to your guns.

Frame it to your boss as you’re trying to understand why your raise was the size that it was

When asking for a bigger raise than offered, don’t just come in and say, “I deserve more money!” Instead, frame the conversation as an attempt to understand better why the company made the decision. Something like:

 I’m genuinely excited about working here, but I would love to know why my raise wasn’t larger.

That allows you to ask questions without sounding like you’re challenging their judgment. You’re coming from the understanding that you think you delivered beyond their expectations and wanted to see if they need anything extra from you to award a higher salary that commensurates what you feel is your value.

Keep your financial struggles out of the conversation

You can make plenty of arguments in your favor when asking for a bigger raise than offered. You can point to your accomplishments, the market rate for your job, or even the fact that there’s a recession and everyone is working harder than ever.

But there’s one argument you should never bring to the negotiation table: your financial struggles.

If you’re experiencing financial difficulties, that’s natural — lots of people are in the same boat. Over 6 out of 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck, according to LendingClub data. The fact holds for 48% of individuals making $100,000+ per year. 

When you bring up money problems as part of your salary negotiation, there’s a good chance your boss will perceive you as desperate and untrustworthy. The common assumption is that you’ll be back soon asking for another “favor.” And while your boss might want to help, they don’t have any obligation to do so.

In addition, allowing someone to make a judgment call about your financial situation (and potentially hold it against you) could compromise the very financial freedom you’re pursuing.

Restate your commitment to the organization

Much as you should justify why you deserve more money, emphasize your commitment and dedication to the organization. You want your employer to know that this is not only good for you—it’s good for them, too!

First of all, let them know that you’re not planning on leaving any time soon. Restate that you have the business’s best interests at heart and are willing to stick around through thick and thin. After all, it’s about ensuring everyone wins!

Consider the alternatives 

Pushing your luck with a bigger pay raise too far may backfire and make you look greedy or pushy. In this case, your boss might feel insulted and change his mind about giving you a raise in the first place. 

If your boss offers a smaller raise than you hoped for, stay calm and provide your manager with an alternative solution rather than just rejecting the offer outright. 

Consider tying your performance to specific benchmarks, such as sales targets or projects that aren’t quite complete yet, rather than arguing that you should have a salary increase based solely on past performance.

Alternatively, offer a middle ground.

Say something like, “I know it’s not possible to get everything we want all at once, but after thinking about it, I think it could make sense if we split the difference between what you offered and what I expected.

If a salary increase is out of the question, propose an alternative scenario where your company could benefit from other arrangements. 

You could suggest working from home one day per week or getting a specific certification that would benefit the company through your efforts and cost them nothing upfront.

Perhaps try another strategy, such as meeting with a Human Resources representative. But don’t push too hard; else, you risk burning bridges with potential references down the road.

When all other options have been exhausted, you must decide whether or not to leave the company or switch to another department within the company with more pay.

Summary

And folks, that’s how to ask for a bigger raise than offered. 

Ultimately, there is no guaranteed outcome. But the more prepared and thought out you are for the conversation, the better your chances of achieving a positive result. 

The key to earning a raise is proving that you’re worth it at the right time. In the end, a polite but confident tone will go a long way towards your goal.

And when all else fails, remember, “No one ever regretted asking for more money!” and start exploring opportunities elsewhere. 

Next, learn how NOT to ask for a raise!