You’ve been plugging along at your job, picking up responsibilities, and rocking it for a while now—and even if you don’t have an annual review coming up for a while, maybe you feel like it’s time to start thinking about a raise. But unless you’re a seasoned negotiator, that may be no small task. If you don’t feel ready to sit down with your boss and talk it out, it’s best to start with a basic pay raise request letter or email to get the process started.
Why to put your salary request in writing
Most negotiation tips are created with a face-to-face interaction in mind—how to use effective body language, how to use active listening strategies, and how to frame your verbal request. However if you’re not quite at that stage yet, putting your request in writing gives you a chance to collect your strongest talking points (and spin them exactly how you want to) without having to worry about the ebb and flow of a negotiation conversation. It’s also a paper trail, for better or worse, which can help you later.
What to include in your letter
Always start with a friendly professional greeting and some background about your history in your job or with your company.
As you know, I’ve been with the company for two years now, and I find it to be a challenging and rewarding environment every day. I have become a crucial member of the marketing team, working on initiatives that have increased our productivity and improved our results.
Once you’ve set the tone, it’s time to touch on the specific achievements that you think merit a raise. You don’t need to go into great detail on each one—succinct, specific bullet points are the way to go. The letter shouldn’t be a long slog for the reader. Instead, think of it as a highlight reel.
In my time here, I have made significant contributions to the team’s success, including:
- Implementing a new SEO program that increased web traffic by 15%
- Improving social media response time by an average of 20 minutes
- Developing a promotional program that uses giveaways to increase brand awareness and customer engagement
Then tell ‘em what you came for: what you’re seeking, and why. When you’re writing this, be sure to stay focused on your own achievements and growth. It’s not about what your colleagues get or what you feel like you’re owed—it’s about building a case for your value to the company.
I’ve exceeded the goals that were set out for me when I was hired, and I believe that going above and beyond my existing role merits a pay raise of 5%. This is in line with the industry standard for someone of my experience in this kind of role, especially with the goals I’ve met and exceeded in my time here.
Again, this should be straight to the point. You should definitely have a number in mind, even if you don’t feel comfortable spelling it out as a starting point. Before you even start writing your request, do your research: check out sites like Salary.com or Glassdoor to see what people like you are making throughout the industry. If you make an unreasonable request, it could shut down your negotiation before it even really starts.
Next, having made your initial pitch, it’s time to start wrapping up your letter. Offer to set up some time to talk about this in person or ask to talk about it in a standard one-on-one meeting with your boss.
I look forward to speaking with you in more depth in our next monthly meeting, and am excited about the projects we have on the horizon.
Your letter doesn’t have to be hyper-formal, especially if you have a fairly casual relationship with your boss. But it should always be direct, polite, and professional. Even if you’re buddies with your boss, now is not the time for jokes or sarcasm. This letter or email should show you at your career best, and highlight you as a competent and productive professional.
The note you write now will help set the tone for the negotiations to come and help you pull your thoughts together to ensure that you’re in a good position to get the raise you deserve.
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