Why Won’t My Boss Give Me a Raise?

When you have a blog, you get to see background stuff like how many people visit and where some of them come from. One person got to my blog by doing a Google search on the words “Why won’t my boss give me a raise?” and wound up looking at a previous post called The Joy of Holidays about the wonders of time off from your job.

In that article, I suggest that sometimes, rather than asking for a raise, you can negotiate for less work hours for the same salary, more flexibility, or maybe even more vacation time. But I feel bad that the googler didn’t find the answer to her or his particular question.

So, rather than writing extensively about something that is already all over the internet, I thought I’d first gather a few existing articles for my googler’s convenience – and yours:

And now some words from the sponsor – me.

The most important thing about raises is that many employers would rather not give them. Oh, I know there are bosses who just plain enjoy seeing your face light up when they tell you they decided to give you a raise. But I bet not too many of you have that boss – and if you do, please let me know because I just might want to work there.

But for the rest of you, getting a raise becomes an intricate dance between you and your employer. A dance for which you should begin preparing the moment you start your job. You can’t expect to go to your boss and just tell him or her you are worth a raise without having a lot to back you up. So, although I’m basically a pacifist, here’s some ammunition you’ll need to have under your belt:

Things You Can Do to Help You Can Get a Raise

– Have you taken on more that your expected share of work? Have you done a good job?

– Have you remembered to let your boss know you’re doing a good job? (Note that it’s more effective to express enthusiasm as you tell your boss how things went rather than just saying “I did a good job”. While someone who is really good gets noticed anyway, sometimes it helps to do a little of your own public relations. Just do it sparingly and with as much modesty and subtlety as possible!)

– Have you asked to take on special projects – and done well?

– Do you always have a good attitude, or are you a whiner – or worse yet, a blame freak?

– When you tell your boss about a problem, do you also come with solutions?

– Do you anticipate problems and solve them before they even take root?

– Have you found a way to save the company money?

– Have you thought of a better way of doing things and presented it to your boss?

– When you make presentations of any sort, do you put them on paper and make them as attractive as possible?

– Do you make an extra effort to make sure whatever you produce looks great?

– Are you someone who is pleasant to be around and makes the workday easier for your boss and your co-workers?

– When problems arise, do you roll up your sleeves and pitch in with a good attitude? No one wants a Chicken Little screaming the sky is falling. And no one wants an ostrich hiding his or her head in the ground until the all clear sounds.

– Are you over 6 foot tall?

Ok. I threw that last one in just to see if you’re paying attention and because studies show that taller people get paid more. But I’m 5 ‘ 1” and I get paid just fine. So don’t let studies tell you what you can or can’t get.

Now to get back to the question that started this “Why won’t my boss give me a raise?” The articles I listed above explain that there are many contributing factors to getting a raise, some of which have nothing to do with you. It’s worth taking time to understand all of that. But that said, I’d like to rephrase the thought a bit and ask the googler “What can you do to make your boss want to give you a raise?”

If for whatever reason a raise is not possible right now, ask your boss as directly and with as much good humor and confidence as possible what you can do to earn a raise. Remember to look her or him right in the eyes. Ask to set some goals with your boss so you can see how you’re doing – and also so you have evidence of your accomplishments.

And above all, before approaching your boss to discuss a raise either now or in the future – make sure you really believe you deserve one. Doubt kills a negotiation faster than anything.

Of course, if you’ve done all you can and are told there is no raise for you – either now or in the future – and if this is not something you can live with, then you might want to start looking around. Sometimes you have to go elsewhere to get that raise you deserve. And sometimes, when you see what else is out there, you find that you don’t have it so bad after all.

Getting a raise isn’t everything. But it sure does feel great!


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. great tips, thanks for sharing

  2. I enjoyed reading your tips. In my opinion, salary raises are very political and have to do with the employee’s position within a company. The concept is simple, why would an employer raise an employee’s salary? Hell, I do not think any employer likes it and all of them hate to hear about it. My father gave me a priceless advice after my graduation; he said “you start as a junior, work hard, smart and give more than expected. Then you move into Middle Management due to exceptional performance and dedication, when you reach there, just work hard and smart. Finally, when you reach Senior Management, just work smart”.

    I think I will be one of your blog’s fans.

  3. Your father’s advice is very wise. People often forget how much their own actions and attitudes effect their daily work life – as well as their whole career. It’s not ALL just about a “stupid boss who doesn’t appreciate me”. But sometimes – just sometimes – it really is! (-;
    Ronnie Ann

  4. There is a flip side to the whole raise issue: why pay more for someone to continue doing the same job? It’s a question of economics, not ethics. Is the woman who has worked for 10 years at a position making widgets worth more than a woman who has worked there for 1 month, yet produces the same amount of widgets? I hope you see my point. Raises, at least in my opinion, are not worthy to be “asked for,” but should be earned when you take on more responsibilities or increase production, etc. There comes a point, however, that while more work or better work can get you more money or perks, are they worth the effort? That’s where most people find themselves when raises stop coming. Just my 2 cents. Interesting article, though.

  5. You make a good point, Tireman. Someone at the top of the payscale for his or her job better come armed with really good reasons (like the ones you point out) why they deserve any increase. As I mentioned, first and foremost, most employers would prefer not to give raises if they could get away with it. But if you think you really deserve a raise and can come to the negotiation with evidence of your additional productivity and unique contributions, then go for it!

    One note: An article on salary.com reports that about 80% of people who think they are underpaid and therefore looking for a new job are actually OVERPAID relative to the market. Something to keep in mind before storming in to your boss’s office and demanding a raise. (-;

  6. This is an interesting site. I go well beyond and other peoples jobs as well the boss sees this and says thanks great job. However other people get a raise but not me.

  7. Glad you found this post. Sometimes it pays (literally) to speak up for yourself. If you do decide to try it, just remember to follow the tips in the post and in the links so you give yourself the best chance of getting the “yes” you deserve. When you sit down with your boss, you need to come prepared with a few good reasons as well as a belief in yourself. And also remember, if your boss says “no” to ask him to set goals with you so you can work toward that “yes”. Good luck.

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