How to Answer, “Why Do You Think You Deserve a Pay Raise?”

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It’s during a performance review. Or you could be meeting with your boss about a raise. Confident you’re at the top of your game; you think you deserve compensation that matches your value to the company. But how prepared are you for the inevitable question: “Why do you think you deserve a pay raise?”

I remember when I was in a similar situation. In my mind, all the pieces were in place for me to get what I wanted.

Then my boss asked me that one question—a question I hadn’t planned on answering. Cue the pause. After a few seconds of awkward silence, I fumbled through an answer, and you know what? It didn’t go well.

All these years later, I can confidently say that there is a wrong and proper way to approach the “why do you think you deserve a pay raise” question. 

If you’re ready to use a better line than “I’ve been busting my chops,” then keep reading. We’ll cover things to say and conversational landmines to avoid. Also included is an example answer for your inspiration. 

Why Your Boss Asks “Why Do You Think You Deserve a Pay Raise?”

It’s not necessarily because your boss doesn’t care about your welfare or wants to water down your quest. And they’re not trying to be mean, either.

Here’s what’s going on.

First, understand that this happens with all kinds of requests—not just money-related. Bosses ask employees to explain their reasoning behind a request because they can’t see inside the employee’s head. Otherwise, you deny them the chance to determine whether or not it makes sense to grant your request.

These types of conversations will require both to share personal thoughts and feelings. And that can make escalate the already intense situation. Why?

Your manager isn’t sure how you’ll react when they ask for more information and details. And if you feel attacked, you’re less likely to be open-minded or listen openly to your boss. And both parties get defensive.

Your boss is looking for a solid justification to raise your pay.

So, if you can’t provide concrete reasons beyond “I’m amazing,” “I’m good at my job,” “I work very hard,” “I want it,” or something similarly vague, your manager will likely decline your request. 

A well-thought-out answer should suffice

Your best bet when answering this question is to tie your accomplishments to your manager’s/supervisor’s priorities.

For example, let’s assume your manager prioritizes customer satisfaction. Then you might say something like, “My projects with X and Y clients have led to higher customer satisfaction ratings.”

Another example to demonstrate your value:

 “I was able to improve our website’s conversion rate by 10 percent.”

Such are solid examples of how your contributions positively impact the company. You’re showing your employer that you can take charge of situations, solve problems and deliver results—something that deserves a reward(fair compensation).

What are Good Reasons for a Raise?

With inflation hitting a record 8.5% in March 2022, 62% of American workers intend to request a pay raise. They cited various reasons:

  • Keeping up with inflation
  • To reflect the current rates in the job market
  • To account for extra work responsibilities 

Sure, a pay raise is an acknowledgment of your contributions to the company. But how do you know you deserve one? 

Below are nine good reasons for a pay raise:

  • You delivered beyond expectations
  • Your efforts positively impacted the company’s bottom line
  • You take initiative
  • You’ve taken on new responsibilities lately
  • You’ve been here for years
  • You mentor others
  • You’ve grown your expertise over time
  • Glowing feedback from your supervisors, coworkers, or customers
  • It’s a good time for the company.

1. You delivered beyond expectations

Going above and beyond typical expectations is a great reason to ask for a raise. You want to ensure your boss knows how much extra effort and time you put into your work so they can see just how valuable you are. Yeap, your performance was so exceptional that it warrants additional compensation. 

2. Your efforts positively impacted the company’s bottom line

What a perfect answer to “Why do you think you deserve a pay raise?”

Can you point to instances you helped reduce costs or increase profits? If so, let your employer or manager know! 

Perhaps you streamlined a particular process or sold more products or services. Whichever of your efforts improved the organization’s bottom line is worth rewarding.

3. You take initiative

Taking on extra projects or responsibilities without being asked shows initiative— a quality that any employer heartily appreciates.

Resourcefulness can also manifest in implementing new ideas or processes or devising solutions to internal pain points. They should bring a positive change to your organization.  

4. You’ve taken on new responsibilities lately

If your boss has given you more responsibility at work or asked you to step up as part of a larger project team, chances are good they value what you bring to the table. It’s never too early to ask for recognition or rewards when such things happen!

5. You’ve been here for years

Some companies use seniority as a merit for pay raises. 

If you’ve been at the same company for years, pursuing compensation that matches your experience makes sense. After all, your employer knows that you’re reliable. They also know that you’ve grown with the company over time.

6. You mentor others

Helping other employees learn and grow shows your commitment to helping others succeed as much as yourself. It also shows that you’re willing to share knowledge with those who need it most — which is especially important in today’s economy when people are struggling more than ever before! Don’t hesitate to leverage such initiatives as your anchor point.

7. You’ve grown your expertise over time

The above is another common reason for a pay raise but can be hard to quantify. 

Consider how much more knowledge and experience you gained compared to when you started working at this company. Then, present this information in a way that will resonate with your supervisor or boss. 

For example, show how your newly acquired skills have contributed to the company’s well-being. 

8. Positive feedback from your supervisor, coworkers, or customers

Your boss may already know you’re great at what you do. But if they are openly elated because of something you did — such as finding out how much time you spend helping others — this could be a good reason for a promotion or pay raise!

It’s not just about your boss’s feedback. Letting them know that others (coworkers, business partners, and customers) think you’re doing well could compel them to offer you that bump. 

9. It’s a good time for the company

Has the organization recently received funding or completed an important project for a client? If so, there’s more money in the budget than usual. That’s when it pays to ask for a raise! You have nothing to lose by asking — and even if they say no, at least you’ll know where you stand with them. But ensure you’re doing well in your job before using the situation as your leverage.

How Do You Answer “Why Do You Deserve a Raise?”

If you think about it, the question “Why do you deserve a pay raise?” is often an invitation to sell yourself. 

But remember, it’s not an opportunity to complain about how little you earn or how much work you do. Instead, focus on the positive things that make you an excellent employee. In other words, specific contributions that have benefited the company.

So, the answer isn’t simply “I deserve a raise because I work hard.” Give your boss a preview of your negotiating skills by answering thoughtfully and deliberately, supported by hard data and quantifiable benefits.

An excellent response is more like, “I deserve a raise because I increased productivity by 20%, saved us $10,000 in costs last quarter through innovative processes I implemented, and have consistently come up with new ideas for growth that have helped the company in many ways.” 

The truth is, it’s not always easy to identify the kinds of facts to present as evidence of your value. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What have I done that’s above and beyond my regular duties?
  • What have I done that makes me irreplaceable?
  • How have I made myself an asset?

Please don’t exaggerate or lie about your accomplishments. If your boss asks for specific examples, provide them — but don’t just recite facts and figures from memory. Work to make an emotional connection with the impact those accomplishments have had on the organization.

What not to say when answering this question

It’s not enough to master what to say when answering the question about why you deserve a pay raise. Here are five phrases to avoid:

I’m struggling financially.”

If you’re requesting more money due to personal issues like getting sick or having a family emergency, please leave it out of the conversation. It will seem like this is all about you instead of your value to the company

Because I want to spend more money on myself.”

There are few things worse than someone who constantly asks for something they want rather than need. It makes people think of you as selfish and self-involved — and it doesn’t scream team player either!

Coworker X earns more.”

Please don’t mention that a particular coworker makes more money than you. Else, you’ll come across as a comparison shopper. And it will sound like sour grapes on your part rather than genuine concern over fairness in salary structure.

I’ll leave if not paid more.”

Ultimatums like this will only jeopardize your job. Don’t let your employer see how much they could save by letting you go. They want assurance that they’ll get their money’s worth and keep a valuable asset by granting your wish.

I have done what you expected me to do.”

Saying something like this means you think your current level of effort is sufficient. That’s not the kind of attitude that will change without some motivation. If you’ve been slacking off and just scraping by on your work, requesting a raise won’t help much. So, strive to go above and beyond the job description first.

How Do You Show That You Deserve a Raise

A 2021 survey found that 48 percent of U.S workers are consistently mentally and physically exhausted. The majority clock over 8 hours per day. 

In addition to the stress, many employees feel undervalued and underpaid. In fact, a staggering 81% of Americans feel they should be earning more money. 

So, you’re looking for raise. You’ve earned it, deserve it, and the company could probably use the extra revenue. But how do you make your case? 

Below are four steps to convince your employer they should pay you more money:

Compile a list of all the ways your work has benefited the company

Think about the projects you’ve completed, how much time and effort went into them, and how much value they added to the company. In addition, take note of any positive feedback on your skills or qualities. More importantly, determine how those qualities have helped the company. Write it all down, supporting each entry with facts.

Pull together all the information about your performance

Whether you have quarterly or annual reviews, look back at them to check areas of improvement discussed and goals set for the next quarter or year. 

Did you meet the goals? Did you implement improvement suggestions into your work habits? 

Such an analysis will help demonstrate that you have met or exceeded expectations and improved performance over time. 

Research what other people in similar roles are making at other companies in your region

Use online resources like PayScale, Salary.com, and Glassdoor for this step. Should you discover a significant difference between the average market value for your role and your current salary, leverage the extra data points to support your request for a salary increase.

Perfect your script

Compiling the necessary data is only half the battle regarding “Why do you think you deserve more money?”  You must deliver your request right. 

If concerned about getting too nervous when facing your boss, please script out the entire conversation. 

Speaking of practicing your script, don’t just do it in front of the mirror. Practice it with a friend, colleague, or mentor who can give you helpful feedback. That will ensure your message is clear, concise, and compelling enough to warrant the raise you deserve.

Remember, there’s a lot to consider when asking for pay a raise. From timing to how much you should ask, strive to get all of them right. Learn more here

Example Script for Answering “Why Do You Deserve a Pay Raise?’

Unsure how to explain why you deserve more money? Derive some inspiration from the example below:

“I’ve been working with [company name] for over [X] years, consistently surpassing expectations in my position as [role]. I’ve participated in [X] projects that yielded incredible outcomes. That includes [project], which resulted in a [W] % increase in our customer retention rate. As well as [project M], which reduced our costs by [dollar amount].

In addition to these direct accomplishments, I am proud to have supported my team. My colleagues know me as someone they can trust to meet deadlines and create high-quality work even when we are under pressure or tight deadlines.”

Summary

I cannot emphasize the need to think through your response to the “why do you deserve a pay raise” question.

Sure, many bosses are typically not ready to hand out raises. But if you can demonstrate you’ve raised your value and contributions to the company and that it would be in the company’s best interest to compensate you accordingly, congratulations. You might be getting that raise. 

 Even if you don’t score a raise right away, use what you learned here to improve your worth on the job market and increase your future chances of getting a raise. But you can always negotiate for non-salary benefits

As usual, best of luck with growing your career and financial freedom!