How To Write A Salary Increase Letter (Ask For A Raise Examples)

By Matthew Zane - Dec. 17, 2020
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Asking for a raise is never easy, even when you deserve one. It can be tricky to express why you should receive a salary increase, but putting the request in writing can help you avoid tripping over your words.

Writing a formal request for a salary increase can be more comfortable than an awkward conversation, and it creates documentation that you asked for a raise. While we have some tips for asking for a raise in person here, let’s cover all our bases and show you how to write an effective salary increase letter as well.

Why Put a Salary Increase Request in Writing?

You should put your salary increase request in writing because it establishes formal documentation of your request. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation with your boss about getting a raise beforehand. In fact, we encourage you to use the letter as one step in the process of asking for a raise. The letter serves to formalize the request and ensure that it’s taken seriously.

When you send a salary increase request letter, your company will keep it on file. This means that if your request is denied or you receive a smaller pay bump than you asked for, the company can always refer back to what you initially asked for. This creates pressure on the company to eventually get you the salary you desire since they can see how long ago you asked and what you asked for.

When you casually bring up a raise, and your boss casually responds it’s in the works, there’s no physical proof of this exchange. Sending a salary increase letter makes for a swifter timeline, so you won’t be on the hook, continually waiting for your raise to come to fruition.

Additionally, writing a salary increase letter is less awkward than trying to broach the subject in person. You also get the benefit of having time to think through why you deserve a pay raise without the pressure of coming up with reasons on the spot. All of which makes for a more effective and straightforward salary increase request.

To Whom Should You Send Your Salary Increase Letter?

You should send your salary increase letter to whoever manages your pay raises, bonuses, and other salary decisions. That could be your manager, supervisor, or the head of your department – if you’re unsure exactly who the right person to send it to is, contact your human resources department, and they should have the answer.

You want to avoid going over the head of the person directly responsible for your pay raises because it will come off as unprofessional and limit your chances of receiving a salary increase.

One of the benefits of putting your salary increase request in writing is that it creates a formal paper trail. In other words, if you don’t trust your manager, this letter will be on file to show precisely when you requested a raise. That way, if your request is denied, you’ve got a much stronger argument the next time you make a request.

How To Write A Salary Increase Letter

Lesa Edwards
CEO, Exclusive Career Coaching

It is so important to do your homework–this letter MUST be about your contributions, achievements, and how your salary compares to the local market. You don’t want to talk about your personal situation (e.g. your financial obligations or the fact that your spouse is out of work); while important to you, these facts are irrelevant.

Getting the Timing Right: When to Send a Salary Increase Letter

Getting the timing right is critical in boosting your chances of success when sending a salary increase letter. Good moments to ask for a raise include:

  • When the company is doing well. You know the term “reading the room.” If you’re paying attention and everyone’s on edge because of potential downsizing, it’s probably unwise to ask for a raise.

    On the other hand, if business is booming and the company feels financially flush, they’re more apt to dole out salary increases to top-performers (i.e., you).

  • When you’ve just completed a big project. If you and/or your team just completed a substantial project (successfully), that’s a good time to put in a salary increase request. Just make sure you made some (ideally) quantifiable contribution to the project’s success. That way, your achievements are fresh in the mind of whoever’s in charge of pay raises.

    Note that you shouldn’t be asking for a pay bump after each and every project, or your requests won’t be taken as seriously. Wait for a genuinely stellar performance, which will make it challenging for your employer to refuse your request.

  • When it’s been over a year since your last raise. Most companies issue pay raises on an annual basis around the end of the fiscal year. Keep track of when your last raise was (or ask HR if you forgot) so that you’re not viewed as overly keen by requesting a raise multiple times a year.

    Generally, employees should at least get cost of living adjustment (COLA) raises each year, so it’s a natural time to ask for a pay bump anyway.

  • When it’s time for performance reviews. What better time to bring up a raise than when your performance is being evaluated? It may help the raise come about faster if you send a salary increase letter in anticipation of an excellent performance review. Still, you can wait until after your supervisor tells you what a marvelous employee you are.

    Naturally, if your performance review doesn’t go well, your leverage for requesting a raise is weaker. If you’re unsure what sort of review you’re going to get, wait, see, and go from there. If you’ve got some achievements and some room for improvement, maybe tamp down the magnitude of your salary increase request.

  • When your salary is below the market rate. Your employer will take your salary increase request more seriously if you’re currently paid below the market rate for someone in your position. Use resources like Payscale.com, Salary.com, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to see what a typical worker with your position in your geographical area receives as a salary.

  • When you’ve taken on more responsibilities. Even if your title hasn’t changed, if you’ve had a recent increase in your daily duties, that should be reflected in your compensation. This also applies to employees who have completed a probationary period in their position and were promised a change in status afterward.

  • When you’ve improved your skills or qualifications. If you’ve recently learned how to perform new functions that increase your value to the company, that creates a strong case for requesting a salary increase.

How To Write A Salary Increase Letter

Julie Sliga
Owner, Career Counselor at Panoramic PDX

Companies tediously research salaries and create pay structures that are competitive within the market range. They are not often transparent about that range.

Your company has done their research, now you have to do yours. You don’t want to overshoot, but you don’t want to sell yourself short, either.

I advise my clients to check several reliable sources that publish salary data and reflect honestly on their qualifications and experience to assess where they fall within that range.

Salaries in certain industries can vary widely depending on the individual’s local labor market–make sure you look at both local and national data.

What to Include in a Salary Increase Letter

While no two letters should look exactly the same, there are elements of a salary increase request that you should always include. Here are some things your salary request letter should definitely include:

  • The letter’s purpose. Don’t beat around the bush – you’re writing this letter to receive a raise, so state that fact early on. Mention how long you’ve worked at your company and/or position and how great it is to work there to give the reader some perspective.

  • Your reason for the request. Take a look at the good times to ask for a raise listed above. Choose which one(s) apply to your situation and bring it up here (excepting the “company is doing well” reason).

  • Your justification(s) for receiving a raise. Preparation comes in handy here. This section could be combined with your “reason for the request” section if your reason involves taking on more responsibilities or having successfully completed an important project.

    Always include your most prominent achievements to justify the value you bring to the company. These should only be recent accomplishments that occurred after your last pay raise. Any accolades or awards that the company gave you are excellent evidence as well. If relevant, include salary data to back up your perception of being underpaid with cold hard facts.

  • The salary you want. Don’t be vague or leave it up to the company’s judgment. Ask either for a fixed dollar amount or a percentage raise. Again, use your salary data research to determine what a reasonable figure would be, and don’t go too far beyond that. A typical merit-based pay raise is around 3%, so you can use that as a starting point.

  • Room for negotiation You never want to come across as demanding in a salary increase letter. Express that you’re open to finding an equitable solution for both parties, and whoever’s in charge of pay raises will be more apt to meet you halfway.

  • Appreciation for consideration. It never hurts to be polite. Thank the reader for taking the time to consider your salary increase request.

What Not to Include in a Salary Increase Letter

You’ve written out your salary increase letter and included everything we suggested above. Great! Now you may be thinking of adding a few other finishing touches. Hold on; make sure that you’re not including any of the following elements in your salary increase letter:

  • Complaints. Look, nobody likes a whiny tone. If your letter sounds like it was written by a pouty child expressing little other than “it’s not fair, I want more,” then it’ll hurt your chances of getting a raise.

    It will also hurt your image with the company’s management, which could have long-term adverse effects on your career trajectory in the organization. Don’t be a victim; be a confident, competent employee.

  • Coworker’s salary information. This is a letter about you, your performance, and your pay – don’t drag other people into it. It’s viewed as highly unprofessional and even downright rude to bring up someone else’s financial situation.

    Instead, use that salary data we discussed earlier. It’s impersonal, aggregated, and factual, rather than anecdotal and petty.

  • Your personal financial situation. We get that you might be going through some personal trouble with your finances, but that’s not a good reason to get a pay raise.

    Avoid talking about your reasons for needing the raise, and instead, focus on your reasons for deserving the raise. It’s more comfortable for everyone involved that way.

  • Company’s financial situation. We mentioned that it’s good to ask for a raise when your company is doing well, but that doesn’t mean you should include that fact in your salary increase letter.

    It’s awkward to say, “Hey, I know you guys have the money, so throw a little my way.” Let the company worry about its finances; you stay focused on yours.

Salary Increase Letter Example

Subject line: Tim Felton Salary Increase Request

Dear Ms. Hutchins,

I am writing to formally request an increase in my current salary. I have loved working as a Digital Marketing Manager at XYZ Corp. for the past four years, but my role has evolved during that time. I believe that I have met and responded to new challenges well and continue to add more value to the company.

In light of my recent accomplishments, I believe a raise of at least 10% is justified. For example, over the past year, I have:

  • Integrated our social media pages across platforms, increasing our website traffic by 23%

  • Developed our product campaign in the Midwest, opening up a new market and increasing XYZ Corp.’s growth potential

  • Streamlined internal processes to allow our team greater swiftness and efficiency in responding to the ever-adapting nature of digital marketing

  • Successfully gathered and managed a remote team of employees from across the country, who have high regard for my management style (as per my stellar managerial review)

Besides demonstrating excellent communication and leadership skills, I have also developed HTML and Python skills that allow me to work more closely with our web developers, simplifying our process for product development.

After completing salary research, I found my current annual salary of $58,000 is well below the median pay for digital marketing managers in our region, $65,000. Therefore, I am requesting a 10% salary raise, which would bring my annual salary in line with the market rate.

Thank you for taking the time to consider adjusting my salary. I am open to having a discussion about reaching a mutually beneficial salary agreement. Please let me know when would be a good time to find a salary solution that works for everyone.

Sincerely,
Tim Felton

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Author

Matthew Zane

Matthew Zane is the lead editor of Zippia's How To Get A Job Guides. He is a teacher, writer, and world-traveler that wants to help people at every stage of the career life cycle. He completed his masters in American Literature from Trinity College Dublin and BA in English from the University of Connecticut.

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