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Advice from a recruiter: Asking for a raise

Advice from a recruiter: Asking for a raise

Recruiters negotiate on behalf of clients and candidates all day, so who is better to speak to about asking for a raise? I talked with Lewis Howard, our Managing Director USA who gives us some tips.

There can be stigma around asking for a raise and confusion about doing it right. People don’t want to seem needy or become emotional and end up sabotaging their own efforts. So, here are some concrete steps to asking for a raise, as told to me by Lewis: If you believe you’ve met your job responsibilities and you require a new position, it’s time to think about a promotion. If you have been brought in as a test employee and have proven yourself fully competent, or have taken on added responsibility at work, then you may be ready to ask for a raise.

There are two ways to approach this: Indirect vs. Direct.


If you work in an office that is political, sensitive or you have secretive management, then the indirect method is for you. First, write down what was required of you when you began your position. Compile concrete examples of ways you’ve met or exceeded these requirements.

Also, add additional work you’ve done. You want to have a long list of what you did to benefit the company. Next, you want to begin speaking about these accomplishments and goals to your managers or senior managers at the company. It’s like "factual and polite boasting". You’re politely reminding them that you’ve been doing well and that you’re an asset.

Especially in a big company, it can be easy to disappear. Your bosses aren’t actively thinking about what you do all day, so this is up to you to let them know. Drop in your achievements within conversation. Secondly, actively ask for new responsibility. If you’re asking for new work, this sparks the thought in their mind: this person needs a raise along with their new responsibility.


For a direct office with more open, transparent management, you still begin by making your list of accomplishments. You need to make a case to present to your manager. Remember that this is an evidence based proposal. You explain: "here’s what I did, here’s what I can do, this will lead to more time and I’d like to be compensated accordingly". Ask if your manager agrees.

If you get a "No", you need to know why. Ask yourself if you’re overstating your case. Find out if they’re hiring new competition, or if they don’t have any money in the budget. Any answer you get when asking for a raise should help inform you about the company. Don’t over-boast or become emotional in this meeting. Remember it's a business meeting—you need to let the company know why you’re going to benefit them and continue to make them money.

If you get a no, try to unemotionally assess your manager’s reasons. See it from their point of view. Maybe you didn’t do as well as you hoped or thought. Are you replaceable? Do you want a job where you’ll be replaced for asking for a raise? When dealing with a “no”, go back to them after review and ask, if "I meet your requirement, will I then qualify?" Ask for confirmation. Make sure you feel what they’re saying is reasonable. If you need to, ask family members or friends if the feedback you got was reasonable or not. And if the feedback was unreasonable, you may want to look elsewhere. You don’t want to work in an unreasonable office with an unreasonable boss.

One Last thing:

Make sure the base salary you request is in line with your colleagues. And if you don’t have access to that information, you can do market research and see what people at other companies are making for the same role that you’re doing. Finally, you have your labor to offer, so be careful with it. It's what you bring to an employer. You need to be ready to stand up and make your case why you want a raise. You must be confident—you’re not trying to trick someone into a raise. It’s a fact-based meeting to state your case and get the raise you deserve for your hard work and accomplishments.