Requesting a raise can be uncomfortable, but it comes with the territory of moving up in your career. If you never ask for more money, you may severely limit your lifetime earnings, since most cost-of-living raises are calculated based on your existing salary. What’s more, new jobs often ask what you’re currently making in order to decide what to offer you.
If you’re excelling in your position and the market supports it, it might be time to ask for a raise. Using a raise request letter can alleviate some of the discomfort that comes with negotiating. Here’s a sample letter to request a raise and some tips for making your case as strongly as possible.
What is the purpose of a request letter?
When we think of negotiating salary, most of us picture in-person discussions. But having a face-to-face conversation isn’t the only way to ask for a raise. Sending a raise request letter in writing can be a good way to open a salary negotiation.
Usually sent via email, a raise request letter lays out what you’re asking for and makes the case for why you deserve it. It may stand on its own or be used as a precursor to a more in-depth, in-person discussion.
Why you should ask for a raise in writing
If you’re nervous about asking for more money (and most people are), using a letter to request a raise can help things go more smoothly. Unlike in a live conversation, where you might lose your train of thought or get shut down by your boss’s objections, a letter allows you to make your case fully and say exactly what you want to say.
On the other side of the negotiating table, a raise request letter gives your boss more time to fully consider your request before offering a response. It’s a great way to give them an idea of where your head is at before you have a deeper conversation in person.
Finally, requesting a raise in writing creates a paper trail. This can be helpful if you’re thinking about leaving the company and want to document why, especially if you’re being underpaid and the higher-ups are refusing to meet you at a more competitive salary.
When should you make a request?
You’ve done your homework
The most important factor in requesting a raise is whether your performance–and the larger market for your job–supports it. To find out, do research on what similar positions pay in your area and at similar companies. If what you’re already making is at the top end of the pay scale for your job, you might be better off asking for a promotion so you can take on more responsibility and in turn, justify a higher wage.
You’ve considered the timing
Usually, you should be in your job for at least a year before requesting a raise. Before then, it’s tricky to make meaningful contributions that support being paid more. The exception is if the position turns out to be vastly different from what the job posting described or if you’re asked to take on more responsibility than what you were initially hired to do. Also, you don’t want to ask for a raise shortly after you already received one, even if it was your annual cost-of-living pay increase.
What to include in your letter
- Why you’re requesting a raise. Outline the reasons a raise makes sense right now.
- Specific examples of your accomplishments. Try to tie these to direct outcomes for the company, like financial gains or increased productivity.
- The number you’re asking for. Even if you’re open to negotiating, naming a figure sets a starting point for the conversation.
- Your gratitude. It sets a more positive tone if you express your thanks for the opportunities you’ve been afforded in your role.
What to leave out of your letter
- Negative emotions. Your request should be focused on conveying what you’ve accomplished for the company, not airing your grievances about being paid unfairly.
- Personal details. Life circumstances like your rent going up or a family member becoming ill are not valid reasons to ask for a raise. Use only work-related arguments to make your case.
Sample letter for requesting a raise
By quantifying your accomplishments and keeping your tone confident yet professional in your raise request letter, you’ll set the stage for a productive conversation with your boss that hopefully ends with a bigger number on your paycheck.