Is Your Request for a Raise Realistic?

Hourly rates and annual salaries are often a big concern for employees. After all, these numbers help you determine if you can afford the lifestyle you desire. And, while many other factors such as paid time off, employee discounts, flexible work arrangements and other perks play into your overall satisfaction with your compensation package, sometimes the bottom line needs adjusting.

Do your Research

First, you must determine if your company offers raises and if you’re eligible. For example, unless you have an employment contract that guarantees a raise, raises are not a sure thing. Also, some companies may stipulate that you work in your position for a specified time period before earning a raise.

Another consideration is the pay scale assigned to your position. Check with your human resources department or your boss to learn the salary range designated for your role. If your salary is already at the top of this range, you may need to consider a promotion to a higher paying role rather than a raise.

Realistic Salaries

If you’ve determined that your position offers some flexibility for a raise, you need to be realistic in your request. First, determine what others in roles similar to yours are earning. Check out salary calculators at, or to determine realistic salary ranges for someone in your role, with your experience level and in your location. You may be great at your job and an asset to your company, but your salary expectations may exceed the realities for your geography or company size.

Focus on Performance

While it’s natural to expect a raise to be a direct reflection on you, remember that raises are also often tied to a company’s success as well. If your company is doing well financially, then a raise may be realistic. But, if your company is struggling, raises may be more difficult to come by.

What about you? How has your performance been for the last year? Have you exceeded expectations or contributed to the company’s overall success in a noteworthy way? Sometimes the easiest way to determine if you’ve earned a raise – or if you can work towards earning a raise – is simply to ask your manager about specific benchmarks or results that would earn you a raise. You can then formulate a plan that you and your manager review regularly to assess your results and progress.

Be Ethical

The desire for a raise is often the result of one of two needs: financial or a reflection on personal value. Whether your checking account is dwindling too low or you feel your work is worth more than you’re being paid, be ethical in your request. Never indicate that you have another job waiting in the wings to coerce your manager into giving you a raise. Not only does this impact your credibility as a professional, but it damages your relationship with your boss – a boss who could call your bluff and leave you jobless.

Money isn’t Everything

Sometimes, while you may have earned a raise based on your performance, your company simply can’t offer more money. So, think about other benefits that may help you, such as a one-time performance bonus, extra vacation days or tuition reimbursement for some classes on your list.

Maybe this is a good time to talk with your manager about your future. You could discuss your goals and ambitions, develop a list of opportunities to help you prepare for your next move and possibly even adjust your job title to help position you better.

Don’t Quit

If you can’t earn a raise in your current role but feel you must increase your salary, first look within your company for a possible promotion or transfer. It may be that you qualify for a higher paying role. You also can start looking for a job with a new company. But, don’t quit your job right away. It’s a lot easier to look for a job while you’re still employed. Use this time to improve your skills, network and increase your marketability.

Asking for a raise isn’t about a one-time conversation with a yes or no answer. And while asking for a raise can become emotionally entangled with your personal desires, keep your eye on your career, your future and your overall goals. Some things are worth waiting for.


Trish is a senior communications manager for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a member of the marketing and communications team for Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition department since 2010, Trish is an employment expert who aims to educate job candidates about the hiring process, networking opportunities and the culture of Sodexo. A graduate of Marist College (BA – Psychology) and the University of Southern Mississippi (MS – Public Relations), Trish has never been far from the classroom. As a former adjunct professor for the College of Charleston and professional advisor for the college’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, she enjoys helping students reach for their potential and guide them through the process of preparing for their future careers. A lover of technology and gadgets, cookies, chocolate and baking, Trish spends most of her free time raising two small children and competing with husband to obtain the most stamps in her National Parks Passport book. Feel free to connect with Trish or learn more about careers at Sodexo.

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