Nervous about asking for a pay raise? Putting your request in writing might make it easier.
A written request gives you a chance to pitch the reasons why you’re worth more than what you’re currently getting paid, without stammering over your choice of words. It may also offer your manager a chance to review your situation before answering.
But to make the best impression on your boss, you need to write a letter that makes a good case for giving you a raise. Here’s what to keep in mind.
- Your boss may welcome a written request as it gives them the chance to consider your case before meeting in person.
- Conduct salary research to set a pay range that’s based on your experience, skills, education, and location.
- List and quantify your accomplishments, paying particular attention to goals exceeded and money saved or earned by the company.
Is It Acceptable To Negotiate Salary by Email or Letter?
Some career experts will tell you that in-person is the only way to go when it comes to negotiating a raise. That’s not necessarily the case.
Many (if not most) people are uncomfortable talking about salary. This is true for both the people in charge of giving out raises and the people hoping to receive them. In fact, data collected for Payscale’s Salary Negotiation Guide showed that only 43% of respondents had ever negotiated salary in their current field. Twenty-eight percent of folks who didn’t ask for a raise listed discomfort talking about salary as their reason for holding back.
Making the request in writing helps ease any discomfort you or your boss might feel. It also gives your manager a chance to consider your request before he or she responds.
Sending a written request avoids putting your supervisor on the spot, and it can pave the way for a discussion about your wages and a potential increase.
It also gives you the chance to do your homework and make your request as smoothly as possible. No need to worry about forgetting what you want to say or stumbling over the words when you can write it all down.
In addition, your letter provides formal documentation of your request for a pay increase. It’s always best to have a paper trail for important business communications. Unlike a verbal conversation, a letter requesting a pay raise documents exactly what you’ve asked for and how you’ve asked for it.
What To Include in Your Letter or Email Message
Before you even begin writing your letter, make sure that your salary request is reasonable. Conduct salary research to determine the appropriate range for your position, experience, and accomplishments. Remember that the goal is to show that you deserve a raise—that you’ve earned it and that it’s in line with the market for your skills, experience, and job title.
Once you’ve determined an appropriate range, it’s time to build your case.
It’s crucial to be specific when you’re asking for a salary increase. Quantify your accomplishments and achievements whenever possible.
Don’t expect your manager to know everything you’ve done on the job. (In fact, as an ongoing practice, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of writing down everything you accomplish on a daily or weekly basis so that you can refer to your achievements at review time or when you’re asking for a raise.)
Take the time to spell it out for them so they can clearly see why you may warrant a raise. This also provides support for your request if your manager needs to get approval from their boss or the human resources department. The more solid information you can provide, the more likely you are to get the increase you're asking for.
Sample Letter Requesting a Raise
This is a raise request letter example. Download the letter template for requesting a raise (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Sample Letter Requesting a Raise (Text Version)
123 North St. Miami, FL 33151
September 22, 2022
Lydia Smith, Manager
XYZ Sales Company
321 South St.
Miami, FL 33125
I have greatly enjoyed working at XYZ Sales Company for the past three years. In those years, I have become an integral member of the sales team and have developed innovative ways to contribute to the company.
For example, in the past year alone, I have achieved the following goals:
- Highest-ranking salesperson in customer satisfaction last quarter
- Brought two new high-profile clients to the company, increasing total company sales revenue by 10%
- Voluntarily trained incoming sales staff, totaling 80 hours of voluntary service
I believe I have gone above and beyond the benchmarks we set for my position when I arrived at the company three years ago.
I would therefore appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss increasing my salary so that it is commensurate with my current performance. I request a pay raise of 6%, which I believe reflects both my current competencies and industry averages.
Once again, I am grateful to be a member of this organization, and I enjoy taking on assignments that allow me to contribute to the company.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Sample Email Letter Requesting a Pay Raise
Subject Line: George Smith – Meeting Request
Now that the XYZ project is in the rearview and we're all settling back into our regular routines, I wanted to drop you a line to ask if we can have a meeting to discuss my compensation.
As you know, I started at ABC Corp two years ago as an intern and came on board at a salary that was slightly low in the pay band, with the understanding that we would revisit my pay at review time. Since then, of course, we’ve all been too busy to think much about anything but hitting our deadlines.
I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to start my career with mentors like you and Jack and to continue to learn in a company that's growing so fast. Over the past two years, I've gladly worn many hats, including lead on our latest project. In addition, I've always exceeded my own goals without missing a single deadline. I've also continued developing my skillset by taking classes in UX design.
My research indicates that a raise of 10% would be appropriate. I'd love the opportunity to meet with you and discuss this in person.
How To Send Your Letter via Email
Most offices rely on email for written communication. If you send your request for a raise via email, the bulk of your letter will be the same as in a hard copy. There are, however, some small differences to keep in mind:
- Omit the paragraphs at the top with your address and your manager’s address.
- Choose an appropriate subject line, e.g., “Your Name - Request.”
- Keep your note concise and to the point.
Proofread your letter and send yourself a test copy to make sure that your formatting comes out the way you intended. Only when you’re sure that everything is correct should you send it to your manager.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much should I ask for when negotiating a raise?
When asking for a raise, start by researching salary ranges for your job title, location, and qualifications. Consider your achievements and skillset and take into account competition for jobs (or skilled employees) in your area. Your goal should be to bring your compensation in line with the market.
How do I politely ask for a raise?
Remember that your employer isn’t your adversary. They have a stake in making sure you’re paid appropriately for your work. Make your case based on your salary research and be gracious and professional during the conversation.