So after weeks, months, or - God forbid - years of toiling, you've finally come to the realization that you deserve a raise. Maybe you need the money to move out of your parents' basement before you turn 30. Or maybe you need to purchase a new kidney to compensate for your collegiate drinking. Or maybe you just want some recognition after saving the company's bacon time and time again. We don't care about your motivation we just want to help you get a raise.

Chances are that your boss hasn't voluntarily showered you with six-figured bonuses or even offered you more than the annual cost-of-living raise. So it's up to you to make the first move. And no matter how good you are at hard-nosed negotiating, when it comes to asking for a raise, doing it right is definitely an art.


Before you can ask for a raise, you naturally have to have the goods. What does that mean? It's pretty much the same thing as "show me the money," but we hate dated catchphrases. So don't have a cow, man. "Having the goods" means that you deserve your raise and you know it.

Be confident

Before you do anything else, you MUST overcome any reluctance you may have about asking for a raise. Employees sometimes just accept the measly 2 percent increase at their annual review because they are too afraid to stand up for themselves. You shouldn't be. If you know you deserve a raise, then go after it. The worst thing that can happen is that your boss will say no. (Read on for strategies to foil that answer.)

Make a list of what you've done

There is a problem with being overly confident. Just because you think you're hot stuff does not mean that your coworkers agree, let alone your supervisor. Unless you are married to the big cheese, do not assume that your mere presence at work every day or your ability to make chit chat at the water cooler will guarantee the green paper. Before you demand a pay raise that will catapult you into Bill Gates' tax bracket, make sure you can back your bravado with cold hard facts. Make a mental account of your achievements in recent months. Write them down. Read them and think about what you did to create positive change, improve your employer's bottom line, manage unruly employees or avert disaster. If you can't think of any good examples, you probably shouldn't make a fool of yourself by requesting a raise. But if you have some major wins, you should focus on quantifying them as if you were writing a resume.

  • If you're a sales representative, list the dollar figures you generated this year compared to last year. If you're a manager of a department, show exactly what percentage you saved the company by cutting costs and spurring your employees to better performance.

  • If you're an architect, demonstrate how you took the lead in a project design and worked to deliver it on time despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

  • If you're a journalist, specify the stories you wrote that uncovered long-standing corruption or those that generated the most response from readers.

  • If you're a goat shaver, detail how many goats you have shaved in recent months, how many more goat sweaters were made because of your contribution, and how you have assumed a leadership role among the other goat shavers.

Regardless of your profession, you can always show how you contributed in a way that went beyond the call of duty. Just remember that bosses like to see results. Be specific and detailed so he/she can't argue your achievements. The more vague you are, the less likely it is that the boss will get excited about your involvement. Show that your special talent made it happen.

Run your list by someone

The third step is to run your list by a trusted colleague in the same field, but not someone who currently works with you. (Comparing salaries with co-workers is a major no-no that we will get to later on.) A spouse or family member could also help. The point is to bounce your achievements off someone else who knows you well and can help you put your tasks into perspective. They may also bring up some accomplishments you hadn't thought of. Once you have a list to work with, your next step is to figure out a successful strategy for delivery. Having the goods only gets you part of the way; timing and delivery will either seal the deal or send you back to your cubicle without passing Go.