How to Ask for a Raise When Your Boss Leaves the Company

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Bonuses are given out when things are going well. Since most young professionals see bonuses and raises in a similar light, they believe they cannot ask for a raise when things are not going well.

But one of the best times to ask for a raise is when there is trouble because you can solve the problem and get paid for it.

For instance, when your boss moves to another team or another company, there are certain tasks that remain unattended.

To ask for a raise when your boss leaves the company, you must ask for an expansion of your role. The promotion usually comes with higher pay, but if it doesn’t, you can keep working for a month before presenting a list of tasks you have been doing in addition to the ones you’re paid for.

This article dives deeper into the nuances of asking for a raise when your boss leaves. Among other things, you will learn the acceptable way to ask for a promotion as well as the best way to present your case for a raise. The content of this post will help you maximize your odds of getting a raise after your boss departs the company.

Why Your Boss Leaving the Company Could Be an Opportunity

When your boss is leaving, your instincts might be in one of two potential modes: The “I must save myself” mode or the “I have to throw my boss a party” mode. If you’re in the first mode, then you might not be in the right position to ask for a raise. 

The self-preservation instinct kicks in when you have not been performing well, or the company isn’t doing well financially. The strategy to ask for a raise when the company is in a financially tough spot is quite different. I wrote a post about it.

But if you’re in the farewell mode, then you might have an excellent chance at getting a raise. Here’s why: when the departure of your boss doesn’t make you worry about your own job, the chances are he is leaving while the company is doing well. And when things go well, the management wants them to keep going well.

This means that the company needs the position filled, and the closest thing to the desired sameness is having someone within the company fill the position. The next preferred alternative is to hire someone new. You can be the person that saves the company from the unpredictability of recruiting from outside. But if you ask directly for the boss’s job, you might turn off the management by coming off as too machiavellian.

How to Ask For a Raise if Your Boss Leaves the Company

To ask for a raise when your boss leaves the company, you must first ask for a promotion. The promotion usually comes with a raise and additional responsibilities. Sometimes, there can be a trial period with your previous pay, and you have to perform well to earn the raise.

In some cases, you might be handed extra responsibilities without a bump in compensation. Unless this is a part of your overall resume-building strategy, you should not take this quietly. The longer you wait before asking for a raise, the more resentful you might get towards the company.

You must make a case for why you deserve a raise by listing the additional responsibilities you’re taking and what it would cost the company to hire someone else to do the same tasks. The difference between getting a promotion and getting extra responsibilities is the pay.

Here are the steps to take in the ideal scenario when your boss leaves:

  1. Ask for a promotion, saying you can do more than what your current role requires. 
  2. You receive a promotion offer and inquire about the associated raise.
  3. You’re offered a desirable raise.

Here are the steps to take when things don’t go perfectly after your boss leaves:

  1. Ask for a promotion, saying you can do more for the company. 
  2. You receive extra responsibilities, but your title and pay do not change.
  3. You execute the responsibilities so well for an entire month/quarter that the company relies on you for those tasks.
  4. Make a case for your raise and promotion.

You get to decide between the month or quarter based on the amount of work. If the responsibilities equate to a 10% bump in your duties, then you can keep working for three months before you can make your case. If the bump is over 20%, you might need to get compensated sooner. In that case, doing the extra work for a month before demanding matching pay is the right strategy.

How to Present Your Case for a Raise After Taking on Additional Responsibilities

When you get asked to do more work, the question shifts from “How to ask for a raise when your boss quits” to “what can I do to get compensated fairly for what I am doing?” This section covers the steps you need to take.

Aggregate the Information

Talking without having anything on paper will make you look unprepared. It will also make your case forgettable no matter how airtight you make it. Having a concise yet understandable deck can help you make your case. In my experience, the best way to organize the data for your case is in the form of tables.

Show Your Daily Responsibilities Before Your Boss Left the Company

Whether you use a table or bullet points, you should have an all-encompassing list of all your duties prior to your boss leaving. This anchors your pay to the sum total of the work you used to do. That way, when you demand a raise, the management can see the specific duties you’re asking to be paid extra for.

Show Your Daily Responsibilities After the Departure of Your Boss

This can be done side-by-side with a table or by using a different color font in a bullet list. Either way, the management should be able to see what specific things you have been doing that you are not being paid for. You can even drive the point home by saying, “This is what I used to be paid for, and these are the tasks I have been doing for free because I am being paid the same.” 

This will clearly show that you are working harder, taking on larger responsibilities, and deserve to be paid. But if you ask for the wrong amount, you might end up getting rejected. That’s why it is important to leave this open-ended.

Example Script for Asking for a Raise When Your Boss Leaves

You can use this script to ask for additional responsibility while communicating that you’re expecting a promotion alongside the expansion of your duties. It also keeps the additional compensation aspect open-ended so the management can make a decision based on what it can afford.

Candidate: Hi [name], I wanted to go over something with you if you have a minute.

Manager: Sure, what’s up?

Candidate: Since [boss name] has left, [task 1], [task 2], and [task 3] aren’t being done on time. If you could expand my role a bit, I would be able to take care of these for you.

Manager: I’ll think about it. Send me an email.

Candidate: Sure. I’m hoping this counts as a promotion if approved.

Manager: Yes, I’ll let you know.

Candidate: Thank you.

Example Script for Asking for a Raise When You Get More Responsibilities Without the Pay

As covered earlier, there is a small chance that your responsibilities get increased without a proportional increase in compensation. You can use this script to make a case for your raise without cornering the manager into a yes or no answer.

Candidate: Hi [name], I wanted to discuss something with you if you have a minute.

Manager: Sure, what is it?

Candidate: Remember, I offered to help with some of the work when [boss name] left?

Manager: Yes. Thanks.

Candidate: My pleasure. But it has been a month, and these tasks have become a permanent part of my work schedule. Look, this is what I used to do before [boss name] left. That’s what I get [pay amount] for. And this is what I’ve been doing to help out the company.

Manager: I see

Candidate: So, are you looking to hire someone to do these things specifically, or would you like to add them to my official responsibility list? It would come at a fraction of the cost. You decide what the company can afford to pay for this additional work.

Manager: Sure, send me all this in an email.

Candidate: Thank you.

Final Thoughts

Asking for a raise when your boss leaves entails asking for more responsibilities first. This gives you room to be deserving of a raise by working more. If you’re consistent, the company can start relying on you, which increases the odds of your requested raise getting approved.

If you don’t get a raise, read this next: What to Do When You Don’t Get a Raise [5 Actions To Take]

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