How to ask for a big pay raise

Apparently, the thought of asking your boss for a pay raise can really stress people out. I can’t really speak from personal experience because I’ve never been in a situation where I could ask for a pay raise (The US Army doesn’t allow a soldier to ask for a pay raise!). However, I’ve become acutely aware of just how stressful this can be by the number of articles I receive on this subject.

I get a number of scholarly journal articles on leadership. I have become amazed at the number of articles that tell people how to ask for a pay raise. I’ve come to understand that asking for a pay raise can be very intimidating no matter what you do for a living. From the entry-level employee to the high-level leader, these journal articles describe the anxiety that many people go through when asking for a pay raise.

Here’s a summary of what the journal articles recommend:

Control your emotions

In general, the journals articles recommend learning to keep your emotions under control during the meeting with your boss. There are plenty of leadership consultants out there who can give you a number of recommendations on how to control your emotions. The general consensus from leadership experts is that the request for a pay raise will probably not go the way you want it to if you get highly emotional during that meeting.

A great way to learn to control your emotions is through prayer. Pray about this meeting before you put it on the calendar. Pray about what you will say during this meeting. Pray before you go into the meeting. And then trust God with the results of this meeting!

Be specific

Knowledge is power. When meeting with your boss about a pay raise it can only help if you are very specific. Maybe your boss has just lost sight of your contribution to the company. Or perhaps your boss has been so consumed with something else that she hasn’t been able to consider how the company is better because of your performance.

Here are three specific areas to address when meeting about a pay raise: 1) Be specific about your performance (Compare yourself to your job description or others in the company who are in similar roles as you. Tell your boss exactly how the company is better because of your performance). 2) Compare your pay to others with similar experience, education, and seniority.  3) Compare your pay with others who are in similar positions in your field around the country.


Thinking about requesting a pay raise can be intimidating because ultimately, you don’t know how it will turn out. It’s natural to wonder if your boss will become angry with you for asking for this raise. Most people go into the pay raise meeting hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. Not knowing how your boss will react to this request is often very stressful.

Let’s be honest… It’s hard to control your emotions. Therefore, I suggest practicing this meeting with some friends or family. Sit down at the dinner table and practice how you think this meeting will go with a family member.  Grab lunch with a friend and ask him or her to play the role of your boss as you prepare yourself for this meeting. Just like in sports, practice often helps you perform better. Practice also gives you the added benefit of taking some of the fear out of this meeting.

Asking for an even bigger decision

For those of you who know me well, you’re probably asking yourself the question, why on earth is a pastor telling me how to ask for a pay raise? I’m using this pay raise meeting as a way of preparing you to share your faith well.  Just like asking for a pay raise, it can be very stressful for a faithful Christian to ask a friend or neighbor to surrender his or her soul to Jesus.  No matter how many times a person has presented his or her faith, it’s natural to experience some anxiety when sharing Jesus.

The stress of these two situations are very similar. Therefore, the principles about preparing yourself for a pay raise discussion with your boss also translates to inviting someone to receive Christ.  It’s natural to experience anxiety when asking somebody to surrender his or her soul to King Jesus. If you are a sincere follower of Christ, you understand what’s at stake with this question. Therefore, the principles of preparing yourself to ask for a pay raise are also the same when it comes to sharing your faith. Practice controlling your emotions. Be very specific about what you’re asking someone to consider. Pray silently in your mind before you ask people to turn from their sins and trust Christ Jesus as their Savior. Practice, prepare, and pray for this moment- then, let the Holy Spirit determine what happens next.

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