5 W (and 1 H) requests for your first raise

Asking for a pay rise can be intimidating, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. As someone who has just made their way into the career world, I can attest to that feeling.

After graduating from university, I asked for a raise twice, each time at a different job. But I didn’t do it without enough thought (and worry).

I was overwhelmed by all the factors to consider when I was preparing to ask for a raise. Not speaking about as all this. But by breaking it down into the essentials, I was able to confidently go into those salary negotiations and come out with a raise.

5 Ws (and 1 H) of negotiating your salary

Who, what, where, when, why and how?

These are the most important questions a beginner in salary negotiations should consider. Approaching it with these simple questions will help you get the gist of the conversation ahead and go into it feeling prepared.

Being a young, working professional is hard enough these days. We’re all just trying to push through and grope for our career goals and navigate all the other things that come with young adulthood, like paying off student loans or buying your first home.

But asking for a raise doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. This is an opportunity to advance in your career. Feel free to share what makes you valuable and why you deserve to earn more from it.

Who is negotiating?

Let’s start with the basics: who?

You: someone who is willing to ask for a raise for the first time. Whether it’s your first job out of college, a dream job, or even a role you suddenly excel at and love. You have proven yourself as a member of the team and deserve to earn more money for your hard work.

Your employer: someone who is willing to discuss it with you (by scheduling a meeting ahead of time, of course) – as long as the company is doing well, not experiencing known budget constraints, and not having any of the elevated limits you’ve already met.

What are you asking?

Knowing what to ask for in terms of a pay rise depends on your employment situation. Some factors to consider may be the following:

  • Salary for comparable jobs in your field.
  • Your level of experience, education or certifications.
  • Length of time with the company.
  • Achievements in your role/company so far.

Researching the salary for your position or those similar to yours in your geographic location is a good place to start so you know what to ask for.

You want to have an idea of ​​how much others are earning compared to you, and then you can combine that with reflections on your personal accomplishments and qualifications. This research should give you the minimum you can ask for based on your current earnings.

Read more: 7 Best Salary Information Sites for Negotiating

Where will you have the conversation?

When you’re ready to make an appointment, prioritize a face-to-face meeting if possible. Meeting someone face to face is much more personal than an email or a phone call. Also, being able to pick up on your employer’s social cues and body language (and vice versa!) can really help conversations flow more naturally.

If you work remotely and don’t have a chance to meet in person, offer a video call so you can at least see each other while you’re talking.

The personal connection of a face-to-face conversation is very important during salary negotiations. While you may be nervous, in the end it’s best to let your guard down and show how important this is to you.

When will you ask?

When it comes to asking for a raise, there is no one right time to ask. But there are a few optimal moments in your career that can catalyze salary negotiations:

  • Employment intervals are six months and one year.
  • You have taken on more responsibilities.
  • You switch roles in the same company.
  • You recently completed a big project.
  • You receive an offer from another company.
  • Your expenses are rising because of the cost of living.

All of these examples are great milestones to justify asking for a raise and start a conversation with your employer about your career.

Related: Can you get a cost of living increase? How and Why You Should Ask Your Boss

Why did you deserve it?

“Why?” and when?” go hand in hand. All the stages of employment mentioned above come with a reason why you deserve a promotion. What for you are asking for a raise is an important part of the conversation.

Don’t speak expectantly, but rather confidently, and prove your worth with concrete examples of your work that reinforce you.

And keep in mind that apart from proof of your success and work ethic, there are other reasons why asking for a raise might be the right decision:

  • This shows that you are committed to your work and development within the company.
  • This can lead to professional development.
  • This is an opportunity to recognize your worth and become a more confident employee.

How will you negotiate?

There are many negotiating tactics you can use to your advantage when asking for a raise.

Start by stating why you are here. You want to get to the point, but you still have a chance to talk about yourself. Think back to your recent accomplishments and why it is important for you to grow within the position/company.

In this way, your employer will immediately know that you are interested in your own growth and development, as well as in the company.

  • Offer a range rather than a specific number to leave enough room for negotiation.
  • Be prepared for additional questions from your employer.
  • Keep your data/research close at hand. It could be a salary comparison or a quantitative proof of your work and its contribution to the company.
  • Have a backup plan. If your employer is unable to offer you a pay raise at that time, be prepared to offer alternative forms of compensation such as more vacation time or benefits such as flexibility or new equipment (such as a better laptop).

Related: 10 Ways to Negotiate Salary as a New College Graduate


Just because you’re young or new to the world of work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the chance to earn more and continue to grow as a professional.

Asking for a raise can certainly be a daunting task, especially for a newbie. But this separation helped me approach my first salary negotiations with more confidence—and with success.

If you are willing to take that leap and ask for more money, I think this can do the same for you.

Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock.com

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