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How to Justify a Salary Increase

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Asking for a salary increase can be a difficult and stressful process. Regardless of how long you work, how successful your work is, or how good your employee reviews, in the end you’ll likely find yourself asked to justify the increase. With this in mind, enter the salary talks with a list of justifications ready for presentation to your employer as proof that your increase in pay is not only warranted, but fully justifiable from the company’s viewpoint.

Choose the right time to make your case for an increase. Check the company’s policy manual for any indications on regularly scheduled salary decision times, or to determine if there’s a policy covering salary increase requests. If you find such a policy, then follow it for best results. If no policy exists, then head to human resources when you have your justifications ready for presentation.

Make a list of your accomplishments at the company. Include any actions that led to an increase in revenue or savings. Include any group successes for your department that you were integral to, as well as special assignments you carried off successfully. Research the salary that others in your position make throughout your industry. If the wages are higher than your own, include that as a support for your justification.

Write an initial letter to your boss or to human resources requesting an appointment for you to discuss your present salary. Include your list of accomplishments in the letter.

Set a figure to aim for. Go with an incremental increase in your salary rather than a large wage that would place you into a different company pay range.

Dress for success when meeting to discuss your raise. As with job interviews, dress a step or two above your normal pay grade attire. Be determined, but respectful. Present your list of accomplishments as justification, and inform your boss that you’re willing to take on new responsibilities to justify the pay raise. Make the increase about more than a reward for past success, but also about an investment in you as a worker who’s loyal and dedicated to the success of the company.

Negotiate. Use your figure as a starting point and be willing to go down from there. Trade hard cash increases for benefits if necessary: an increase in paid vacation days for example.

Get any agreed to terms in writing so that both parties can be sure of what the agreement was, and when any changes begin.


Keep a journal of your work-related achievements so that whenever there’s a personnel review of salary negotiation you’ll have the facts and figures available.


Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.