Making your case for a raise

Dear Joan:

I have been employed by my current employer for almost four years. I am the only marketing professional in this company, since the company is rather small (only 75 people).  We are in the chemical business and the company has almost doubled in size in the last two years. We have a laid back culture and we don’t have many formal corporate systems such as performance reviews or job descriptions.


I like my job and my boss tells me all the time how my contribution is valued. While that is great to hear, I would like to make more money. This has been more apparent to me now that it’s tax time and I am realizing that I need more money to live on (I make $32,000). I am single and I don’t have anyone else to fall back on for income. I work long hours and have a full life outside of work, so I’m not able or interested in freelancing to make more money.


Can you tell me the best way to approach my boss to ask for a raise?



.Even though tax time can make you take stock of your financial needs, it’s not a good reason to ask for more money. If it were, we’d all be in line behind you. Working long hours and not having anyone to fall back on doesn’t hold much weight, either. So, let’s identify what does work when you want to ask for a raise.


The three steps to a raise are research, results and revenue.



 Where can you find information about what other people earn for similar jobs? Check out salary websites such as  Also, be sure and check the Internet for Websites that offer salary information specific to your field.  National job boards such as and local job boards can give you more information.  There you will see what jobs are available and what they are paying. Search for jobs that are comparable in job duties, level of accountability, size of company and geographic location.


Another source of good information is your network. Call friends who work for similar sized companies and ask them, “Could you give me the name of someone in your marketing department? I’m doing a salary survey and I’m looking for some information.” When you connect with the person in marketing, offer to share with them what you learn in your research. It will give them an incentive to share information with you.


Ask for information about the size of the marketing department, how duties are split up and how big their budget is. Then describe your job (remember: duties, accountabilities, size of company and location) and ask, “What would your company pay for a position like that?” By asking the question this way, you aren’t directly asking them what they make.


Next, contact your marketing association, alma mater, or any other professional group you belong to and ask them for the latest salary information in your field. Often, professional groups do surveys on a regular basis and keep this information at their website or provide it to members upon request.


Examine your results:

This can’t be fluff. It has to be bottom line stuff. For example, listing how many brochures you’ve written won’t cut it but talking about how you’ve had an impact on attracting new clients and reaching new markets will be important to making your case. Write down all the accomplishments you’ve had since your last raise and include complimentary letters or comments from clients about your work.



Finally, you have to consider the company’s financial condition. You may be a star, but if the company is struggling to pay its bills, don’t expect a dime. The company has doubled in size, which is a good sign, however, that doesn’t mean the company is flush with cash. If you do not have access to financial information, you will need to observe how the company has been investing its financial resources.


Once this work is done, you will know if you stand a good chance of getting the money that you’re worth. Come up with a salary figure you feel is appropriate. 4 percent has been a typical raise for the last few years but in your case you may be able to ask for more, since you haven’t had a raise in awhile and your salary may have fallen below the market rate.


Write a proposal based on all the information you’ve collected. In a meeting with your manager, state your case in a friendly but serious manner. Don’t demand or whine. Avoid phrases such as, “I think I deserve it.” Instead, stick to the facts:

1.      I haven’t had a raise in x years.

2.      Here are the results I’ve produced.

3.      This is what other people in similar jobs are paid.

4.      The company seems healthy enough to support my request.


Give your manager time to take your proposal to the people above him and thank your manager for his efforts on your behalf. Make it clear that you love your job and enjoy working for the company. He needs to know this isn’t a power play suggesting that you will leave if your demands aren’t met.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
About Joan Lloyd
Joan Lloyd & Associates provide
FREE subscription to receive Joan's article by email

Email Joan to submit your question for consideration for publication, request permission to reprint an article for distribution, or for information about carrying Joan Lloyd's weekly column in your publication, or on your Internet or Intranet site. Visit to search an archive of more than 1700 of Joan's articles.
© Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.