How To Ask For (And Get) A Raise Like a Man

by Brett and Kate McKay on February 17, 2008 · 20 comments

in Money & Career


Editor’s note: This is a guest post from The Art of Manliness reader and my good friend, Josh Wilsie.

One of the fastest and easiest ways to increase your income is to ask for a raise. But some men’s palms get clammy just thinking about doing so. Here are five tips on how to ask (and get) the raise you deserve.

1. Just ask

Just like anything in life, you aren’t going to get what you want if you don’t ask for it. It’s the same principal as asking girls out on dates (instead of “hanging out”). You will never make any sales if you don’t make any calls. I am constantly surprised by how many of my friends and coworkers are fearful of asking for a raise because they don’t want to seem ungrateful or are afraid of getting turned down and feeling rejected.

People don’t seem to grasp the concept that you are simply selling a service to your company by being employed with them. That service is your time and your labor. If you’ve been with your company for over 6 months or up to a year and haven’t received any pay adjustments, I’d say just asking will work 75% of the time (if you’re good at your job). Learn these magic words: “I’d like to talk to you about a salary adjustment.”

2. No ultimatums

A big mistake I have heard a few people make when asking for a raise is giving ultimatums to their employers. I can’t stress enough that the workplace is a competitive environment, and while there is nothing wrong with asking for a raise, demanding one can backfire in the worst kind of way. Many managers, faced with this situation, will simply call your bluff.

Obviously if you suck at your job, or the company is losing money hand over fist, you don’t stand a snowballs chance, ultimatum or no ultimatum. If you aren’t yet sure if you are worth more, then read on, as you can do something about that too.

3. Determine your value by job browsing.

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on what a fair and competitive wage is in your industry. Recruiters and online job websites can be great resources for determining what you can expect to make. Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, check out,, and other job boards (not at work preferably). Find a similar job suited to your talents and send them your resume.

Feel them out, and if given a phone interview, ask for specifics with regard to salary range. If you know you aren’t interested because they’re not paying enough or you’re comfortable with your existing job, be upfront and courteous. Inform the person with whom you’re speaking that you’re happy with your current position (if you are) and be sure to thank them for their consideration. Hopefully you have wasted as little of their time as possible.

Remember that you aren’t indebted to your employer. You entered a business arrangement with them when you were hired. You sell them your time and labor in return for your salary. Shopping around isn’t unethical. It’s good business. Who knows? You might even go on an interview and land a great new gig.

4. Ensure people know your value

Everybody knows the brash and obnoxious “hot-shot” type at work that needs to validate his worth publicly. Everybody resents that person for it too. A real man knows the thin line between confident and cocky. Mastery of this line at work is key to proving your worth to those around you. Just as Teddy Roosevelt was famously quoted, “Speak softly, and carry a big stick, and you will go far.” Instead of trumpeting every small success you have every day, quietly get everything assigned to you done and done well.

When people around you struggle with their work, give them the help they need to get it done, unless of course you work in some ultra-competitive Glengarry Glen Ross type boiler room (Third place is: You’re fired). In that case, get a new job.

Having a “go-to” and “willing to help” attitude has a strange way of uplifting everyone around you. It increases morale and productivity. If your boss or supervisor doesn’t pick up on this and recognize this kind of leadership, get a new job.

5. Increase your value

If you are still having trouble establishing value in your position, consider learning something relevant in your free time. Not everything requires a class or course to be learned. Often times it only takes putting down Call of Duty 4 and reading about the subject. If your employer ever offers optional training or certifications, do not pass up on the opportunity. For example, I was offered an optional training course in Asterisk, an open source PBX (like Linux for phone systems) in 2006. With that course and a bit of tinkering in my free time, I became an authority on the subject. Ever since our company moved our software platform onto Asterisk, I’ve received three separate pay increases. Seriously, do everything you can to improve your worth.

Once you’re sure you have established your value as a go-to guy, it’s time to seek your reward for all that hard work. Without sounding accusatory or argumentative, let your employer know about the successes you’ve had since you’ve been at your current position. Show them projects you have spearheaded and people you have helped. Make sure they know about all the relevant job skills you’ve picked up while working there. If through conversations with others in your industry, you’ve discovered your salary isn’t competitive, let your current employer know. Win them over to your side and you’re almost guaranteed to be earning more.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 E February 17, 2008 at 11:14 pm

These are all good points, but here’s a question – what about those times when your boss is ignorant to your value? I don’t mean perceived value – I mean actual provable monetary value, and just doesn’t think you deserve the raise or have the courage to stand up and walk out for something better?

Any tips on making your value apparent without looking like a jackhole?

2 Drew February 18, 2008 at 5:26 am

Response to E, if he is that oblivious, then maybe it is time to find a new job where the boss may be more in tune with the goings on of the company.

3 Matt February 18, 2008 at 8:19 am


I think the best thing to do is to follow some of the steps outlined in the post and then present your boss with concrete documentation of your value. In other words, start documenting all of the valuable things you do, the successes you’ve had, the projects you’ve spearheaded, and most importantly, the salary quotes you’ve gathered for similar jobs at different companies. The more specific you can make your request the better. Try to be able to say “I saved/made the company x dollars with the program I implemented.” Then when you ask for the raise you can go through all of those very specific things to make your case.

4 tricky February 18, 2008 at 7:13 pm

One thing I think should really have been mentioned in the article: it’s OK not to succeed the first time you ask. Simply asking for a raise, even if unsuccessful, puts you in your boss’s mind as “person who wants a raise.” When you ask again a few months later (assuming you or your company are doing well), your boss may even feel indebted to you. Or maybe not, but your boss will be more likely to pick up on your efforts in the meantime.

5 lily February 18, 2008 at 7:44 pm

wow..we should think about it very carefully.
I think my friends on a dating site —- — should care about it now..

6 Sir Lid February 19, 2008 at 10:03 am

…and don’t let your superior see you reading articles on the internet.

7 Sangesh February 20, 2008 at 8:22 am

wow this is so inspiring… thank you for this article.

8 Besplatne Stvari i Besplatna Muzika March 1, 2008 at 4:19 am

Response to E, if he is that oblivious, then maybe it is time to find a new job where the boss may be more in tune with the goings on of the company.

9 Muzika, Igre, Zabava i jos mnogo toga ... March 1, 2008 at 4:19 am

wow..we should think about it very carefully.

10 Gordon Hayes December 15, 2008 at 6:56 am

The 5th point is the most important! If you don’t have value that you can use to help others then why should others give value(in this case: money) to you?
Lazy people won’t get a raise. Bring value to your company and you will be rewarded.

11 NM5 January 7, 2009 at 6:47 am

Great article. I agree that the last point about being valuable is the most…well valuable.

For someone like myself, just starting out and trying to find my niche in buinesss, this type of info is very inspiurational. I keep coming back to this website every few days to get that shot of inspiration in the arm. Thanks AoM.

Incidentally I have an article saved to my favorites that I’ll share here since it pertains. It is an article in fortune from 2005 about the “best advice I ever got” straight from some of the top american business leaders, including the Oracle of Omaha. Good stuff.

12 Evan January 8, 2009 at 9:12 pm

yeah im also in the same situation where my boss is oblivious to how your worth, but Im not sure if he just pretends to be ignorant. Anyway i will see tomorrow when i tell him i need a substantial raise or im switching jobs (yes i have another lined up with the same pay im asking).
The problem is there is a slight chance that he will say ‘when summer comes around’ just to get me not to leave and then mess up the connection that i currently have.

13 Ali March 27, 2009 at 5:16 am

Another reason to keep your CV up to date as well, outlining your skills and accomplishments on it. Its a useful tool not only for job hunting, but when negotiating a raise.

There’s never a “good” time to ask for more money, but unfortunately there’s no legislation obliging employers to give regular pay raises. And most employment contracts don’t even mention it, except perhaps for a small raise after you’ve passed the probation period. So the onus is on you to value yourself and make an effort to ensure your being paid accordingly.

14 Elliot Ness August 23, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Absolutely. You as the worker are what makes a company. And if you do a good job. If you strive for excellence, not just an “adequate” job. Then you are of value. Show that to your boss.


15 Jess September 16, 2009 at 11:22 am

This article seems very helpful. I’m going in today to try to negotiate a pay raise. I’ve only been with the company 6 months, but took a substantial pay cut to get my foot in the door and prove my worth. Now I’m here and doing the job better than anyone expected and feel it’s time for a raise. Thanks AoM, I feel more empowered after reading this article.

16 Philippine girls October 27, 2009 at 10:36 pm

That’s my man! Brave enough to face to get what he wants. Of course you are right that if you ask, you must be the one to give first or you’ve got what it takes to get what you wanted. It’s true in work and in finding a lifetime partner.

17 R. Stavros Bezas March 7, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Great article. Three things:

1. Know what you want (many different ways to get money (base pay, bonus,etc), you may want a promotion (title) or opportunity)
2. Know who can give it to you (boss, different group/company)
3. Make it easy for them to give it to you! Could up pay for your position, but a promotion may have lots of red tape. Have your successes proven to make it easy to push through!

18 Gordon Hayes July 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Here is a thought: the most important question is WHY?

Why should your boss give you a pay raise? Why is it good for her/him? During the negotiation try to list as many arguments as possible, which are proving that it is in your boss’ interest to give you a pay raise.

I know it sounds a little bit weird, but just try it. For your boss (as for any other human being) his or hers interests are the most important. Your boss doesn’t really care if you have problems managing your own money. He or she wants to know, what is it in for him/her.

These advantages can be: more clients, higher performance, more efficiency.

Want more? Read this:

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