Negotiating a pay raise with your employer can be one of the more stressful experiences of your career. But, the ask could result in a positive pay off. The reasons for a pay raise vary from individual to individual. For some, a change in title could be the catalyst. For example, attaining your PE license affords the opportunity to ask for a raise. Some may feel that the time for a pay raise negotiation occurs not with a new title, but when responsibilities increase. Others may believe in asking for a raise at their annual review. Regardless of your situation, when you feel the time is right to ask your boss for a raise, you want to consider a few tips.

Review and Organize

If you are interested in asking for a raise, start by reviewing your resume, responsibilities, certifications and your time management. What is your reason for a raise? Have you recently been certified as a Professional Engineer? Do you have a consistent track record of completing projects? Are you going above and beyond in your work? Have you assumed increased responsibilities? Before you ask for a raise, it’s important to organize your reasons for the raise.

It is also important that you review your company’s policies on pay raises. Does your company have a policy for compensation change? What is the company policy on raises? Do raises often occur after every annual review? Is the baseline standard across the board? Or does your company offer flexible raises throughout the year?

Also, ensure that the timing of your ask fits the company’s pay practices. If the company only increases pay once a year, it is unlikely for you to receive a raise outside of this time.

Tackle Additional Responsibilities, Dress the Part

As you consider asking for a raise, review your responsibilities. If you are successfully completing your work on time, look for opportunities to tackle additional responsibilities that might come with an increased pay raise. The adage “dress not for the role you have but for the role you want,” will be important when you put together your rationale for the raise. If you can delineate examples of times when you have gone beyond your role and taken initiative, the pay raise may be more justifiable. Do not walk into the negotiation and suggest you need a raise because of cost of living; instead, present opportunities of how your work financially benefits the company.

Communicate your success

In addition to reviewing your responsibilities, share your success with your higher-ups as often as possible and include them in on the success. This doesn’t mean company-wide emails of how excellent your work is, but rather enthusiastic mentions of the project and the teamwork. This may sound something like, “I’m thrilled that Project X went off so well; it was important to me and feels like an awesome win for us all.”


Timing is critical to a pay raise negotiation. If you hope for a pay raise negotiation at an annual review, you may want to time your actual ask about 3 to 8 weeks out from a formal review. This may mean setting up a meeting to present your case and letting them know that you hope that they consider the information at your annual review. This allows those in charge to consider it well in advance and figure out a monetary response.

John Hoschette, founder of Career Development Coaches and the Technical Director at Rockwell Collins shares, “Timing is everything, including how your company stock is doing, how the project you are working on is going, time of year, day of the week and hour. The ideal case is to ask just after the company announces record sales and profits, or just as you’ve successfully completed a very difficult assignment.”

When you determine the timing for your ask, be sure to set up the meeting in person. Do not negotiate a pay raise over the phone or email.

Do Industry Wide Research

Do industry wide research to get a clear picture of the salary range. Ask around to colleagues and professional friends to get an idea of similar salaries. Consult professional websites or even career review websites that offer an idea of salary. Even job boards might provide ideas of the types of salaries that might be commensurate with your title and experience. Review your company’s policies on raises; for many companies a baseline pay raise is between 2 to 3 percent.

Outline your Ask

It is important when asking for a raise to approach it as why you deserve it and not why you need it. Tie your contributions in your work back to the financial gains or profits of the company. If you can do that, it makes it easier for the company to justify a raise. Be sure to properly communicate all your responsibilities, including a strong safety record or additional responsibilities you have undertaken.

Practice your Ask and Anticipate

Practice your pitch. It is imperative to practice your ask so you are confident when you walk into the room. In these conversations, rehearse out loud and anticipate questions that your boss might ask so that you have responses prepared in advance.

Be Prepared to Handle Rejection

In spite of all your preparation, you need to be prepared for the fact that the answer might be “No.” You can ask your boss for other perks in lieu of a raise, such as additional vacation days, more job flexibility or a change of office. Another way to deal with rejection is to ask what you can do in the next six months to make this conversation successful the next time. Ask the boss to be as specific as possible. Continue to work hard; if you’ve asked once, your boss will assume you are going to ask again. Give him a reason to say “Yes” the next time.

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