Does the idea of asking for a raise make your heart beat a little faster or cause your palms to sweat? For many people, asking their employer for more money is a stressful experience. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips on how to ask for a raise with more confidence and less stress. We also dive into when to ask for a raise, along with how much of a raise you should ask for.

Tips on How to Ask for a Raise

When approaching your employer for a raise, how you ask may make the difference between walking away with a bigger paycheck or your income staying where it is. Here are a few tips that can help you work toward the former:

  • Support your request with data. If you’re paid less than others in the same position who work at a different company, have the numbers to back this up. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides median wages by occupation that you may be able to use. You can also look at other salary websites that supply average income amounts, giving you a basis for your raise request.
  • Consider your financial value to the company. Have your efforts saved the company a certain amount of money or are you otherwise able to quantify your value with a dollar amount? For example, maybe you improved the company’s operations, saving it $500,000 in expenses each year. Let your employer know this, making your raise request seem minimal in terms of how much money you’re saving the business overall.
  • Provide proof of your positive performance. Maybe you want more money because you are amazing at what you do. In this case, it can be helpful to provide your employer with instances in which you’ve received praise for your work. This praise may have come from supervisors, co-workers, or even customers or clients. No matter its source, it can help strengthen your stance.

When to Ask for a Raise

Ask for a raise at the wrong time and you’re likely to be met with a no. It may even hinder your request for pay increases in the future if your employer feels like you’re constantly going to be hitting them up for more cash.

There are a few factors that can affect when to ask for a raise. One is the length of your employment. If you’ve just started working for the company, wait at least six months before making your request. Although, being in your position for a year or more may increase the likelihood that they’ll say yes.

If you are asked to perform more duties or are given a promotion, these are also good times to ask for a raise. They’re also times when it should be easier to argue for more pay since you will be responsible for more (or more advanced) job responsibilities.

Other times that may indicate when to ask for a raise include:

  • If your performance has been stellar during the previous few months
  • If you completed a major project with great reviews
  • If your employer had a good quarter financially (giving them the ability to afford to pay you more)
  • If you’ve been offered a position for another company and it comes with more pay

How Much of a Raise Should I Ask For?

Besides knowing how and when to ask for a raise, it’s helpful to have a certain dollar amount in mind. This enables you to make the ask with greater confidence because you know exactly what you are looking for. But how much of a raise should you ask for?

Business News Daily indicates that the average raise is 3 percent, with 4.5 percent to 5 percent being “good,” and anything more than that being exceptional. However, if you’re asking because your pay is below others in your field, because you’re starting a new position, or you’re going to work for a new company, Indeed suggests asking for somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of what you’re making at the moment.

If Your Raise Request Is Denied

In some cases, your request for a raise may be denied due to the company not being profitable enough to pay you more. Or they might have some other valid, understandable reason. In other cases, you may be told no for no good reason at all.

Decide in advance what you will do if your request for more money is denied based on the reasons cited. If the company offers enough other benefits—such as good medical insurance and a flexible schedule—you may decide to wait it out or ask if they will reconsider in 6-9 months.

Otherwise, you might want to consider whether staying with the company is a good choice. Pay isn’t everything, but if you feel that you are being undervalued, it may be time to look elsewhere.