You Need To Ask for a Fucking Raise

A new whiskey distillery opened near my office. And because we work for a publishing house and some stereotypes exist for a reason, my coworkers and I went for happy hour the day it opened. Which is how I found myself drunkenly badgering three of my female coworkers about their income (if this is shocking to you, you must be new here).

At issue was the fact that none of them had ever asked for a raise. Ever. And as I listened to their lame excuses I felt the worst kind of déjà vu. All of their reasoning and fear sounded so familiar to my own personal experience.

Because if you recall, I too had once waffled about asking for a raise. And I think of the whole miserable time just like the Alamo: NEVER AGAIN. (That’s how the saying goes, right? … right? Right.)

Apparently not, because if my coworkers are still struggling with all the same hang-ups about asking for a raise that I once had, then chances are some of you are too. And it is my sworn duty as a personal finance blogger and Loud Internet Woman to type words at you until you get the hell over it! So here goes.

The squeaky wheel gets the raise

Statistics show that you are more likely to get a raise if you ask for it than if you don’t.

So if Sarmishta in development actually asks for a raise this quarter and you don’t, odds are she is getting that raise and you are not. Not necessarily because she’s better at her job than you are at yours. Not necessarily because she worked harder, brought in more money or clients, or saved the company millions of dollars. Because she fucking asked for it.

While you were sitting around pining away for a raise, she was acting out the corporate equivalent of the romantic ending in a Cameron Crowe movie.

We’ve talked about this harsh reality before. Your employer has very little incentive to promote you or give you a raise. Sitting around doing nothing to funnel those extra dollars toward your bank account is basically a way of signaling to your boss that you’re perfectly happy working for your current measly salary.

So get busy, bitch.

The sexist red herring

The gender and racial wage gaps are real things. This is not open to discussion.

But misogynists love nothing more than delegitimizing misogyny. Actually, they love nothing more than their privileged position within our patriarchal society, which is why they’ll stop at nothing to maintain it. But delegitimizing misogyny is a close second, as evidenced by the dudebros on our Tumblr who helpfully explained at us how we are perpetuating the vicious feminist myth of the gender wage gap.

The argument against the gender wage gap is that it only exists because of the choices women make, not because of any kind of systemic sexism.

Hear that, ladies? As usual, it’s all your own fault! If only women would ask for raises as often as men do, or work as hard as men work, or angle for promotions as often as men do, or go into higher paying professions like men do, or not get pregnant and have babies like men don’t, they’d be making just as much money as the men!

These are certainly contributing factors, but not the root cause of the gender wage gap. They act as a handy excuse to not fight for income equality between the genders.

Because by this logic, short of forcing women to make better choices in the work place, these things will just keep happening.

So if, according to these emissaries of the patriarchal status quo, the wage gap is “only a thing” because women never ask for raises… well then honey, you need to ask for a goddamn raise. It is your feminist prerogative. You’re letting down your sister misandrists every time you don’t ask for a raise! Think of how angry the misogynists will be if you take away their sexist red herring and force them to recognize systemic inequality!

In other words: one way to smash the patriarchy is to ask for a fucking raise, you glorious pearl of ambition and success.

Your lame excuses

“But asking will be so awkward! I’m afraid of rejection! I don’t want to look like a greedy bitch! Other people deserve it more! And I know the company is going through a really tough time right now and there’s no room in the budget for me to get a raise!”

Hush my dear. Your excuses are a boring method of avoiding conflict. They make you look like you actually enjoy impotent martyrdom. None of these concerns are actually your problem.

Asking for a raise is hard. It’s unpleasant. If you’re like me and you have the daily anxiety level of a wounded wildebeest within sight of Pride Rock, the thought of asking for a raise can be physically nauseating.

But if you don’t ask…

So you owe it to yourself to overcome your fears and excuses. You owe it to yourself to not contribute to damaging statistics about income inequality. Look at all these articles we’ve written to make it easy for you!

You’ve fucking got this! Your fears are the only thing holding you back from having more money so you can reach your financial goals faster and easier. Here’s a straw. Now suck it up.

The absolute worst that can happen is that your boss says no. But that’ll only happen if you give them the chance to say yes.

13 thoughts to “You Need To Ask for a Fucking Raise”

  1. I agree that asking for a raise is a great idea but in my experience the best way to actually get the raise is not by asking or by telling them how valuable you are, they should already know that unless you are invisible or your boss is pretty lame. The most effective way is to show them that other companies are trying to lure you away. If you are really good and have established a good network then you should be getting offers pretty often from head hunters and from other companies that contact you directly. I never threatened my company, I just let my boss know what size the offers were and if they involved a promotion and sure enough, I’d invariably get a promotion or a nice raise or both. Eventually I was promoted into the top slot at my company. Oddly I never once had to change companies to advance rapidly and to get paid top wages but I would have if my company had not come through for me. To my mind the secret is to have a network that gets your name out there and to be so good at what you do that your company is terrified you might leave. If they think replacing you is no big deal you’ll never earn much, in that case you either need to grow into someone hard to replace or get the heck out of there. Don’t think this only works for guys. A year ago when I decided to retire my replacement was lured from her job at another company to come take mine. She’s female and fortyish and now running a billion dollar company and she got there the same way I did, by having a network spread the word about her talent. This won’t work for everyone, you have to be in a field where there is a shortage of talent because you need recruiters to be involved in order for you to get the offers.

    1. By talking about the offers and promotions, you are certainly positioning yourself in the company’s mind as a hot commodity in demand. I like it.

      I do things to try and make myself more visible. Joining professional organizations and taking on leadership positions, giving workshop presentations, networking with colleagues. I’ve become the go to person for everyone’s short list of people to ask for opinions. The more I am out there, the higher my confidence grows, and the more my boss realizes that I could be snatched away.

  2. I too am guilty of going way too long without asking for a raise just because it’s so stressful. I’m lucky now that I actually have official annual reviews and while those are stressful enough, it gives me a time and place to make sure I put myself out there and ask for more moula!
    It only makes sense, getting a raise has a much bigger impact on your finances than trying to cut costs.

    1. Same! In publishing we didn’t really have HR and had no reviews. Bit more structure since I switched careers… but still,I didn’t ask for a raise until last year. Terrifying but worth it.

      1. I’m so glad you’re both asking now! It’s a hard habit to get into, especially working in an industry that doesn’t really have an organic structure for giving you an optimal time to ask (performance reviews, etc). I think a lot of women especially struggle with this. And we need to keep encouraging each other to suck it up and ask, even if it’s awkward and uncomfortable. Sarah’s right: it can seriously benefit your finances.

  3. I just had lunch with a female coworker today that told me she was 1 of 2 people in our department to get a raise. She isn’t bad at her job but I asked how she managed to pull that off because on paper she seems to fall in line with the rest of us….

    She explained she went to our boss and showed how she was valuable and why she deserved more money. Our boss explained that she would not be getting a raise. My coworker then mentioned she would begin looking for a new job immediately. That was all it took for her to receive a raise. She swore me not to tell anyone in our office because of politics so I figured I would just tell the entire internet because it fit with this article.

    I work in a female dominated area in the company and have seen so many things that you talk about on here in real life. I am glad to have found this blog to help me learn and not be such a dope about a lot of these issues!

    1. This makes me so fucking happy to read… and also a little sad. I’m proud of your coworker for asking for what she deserved and for having the ovaries to play the “you can kiss my ass good bye” card. Imagine if she hadn’t asked! Or if she’d just meekly accepted that she wouldn’t get a raise! Her income would be permanently affected.

      Anyway as always your kind words mean the world to me. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!

  4. I’ve never asked for a raise….. *hangs head shamefully*


    (you knew it was coming. Lame excuse time).

    I got raises yearly (that are set in stone. No way to change them. for real.), and I changed jobs that came with a sizeable raise every 18 months. This last job change I got a raise and I wanted to ask for more, but I was specifically advised not to. At the time, job freezes were in place and my job was open only because it was an emergency. Literally the only job open in my career field in the entire company. Since 10% was still a nice chunk of change, I didn’t ask for more. Next time I change jobs, though, I’m for sure putting my hand out.

  5. If you are just changing jobs to get a raise, that works too. It leaves a void and forces the company to spend money hiring and training. I makes the job seem harder to fill which should in theory put upward pressure on salaries.

  6. A few months ago I asked my sister how to ask for a raise and she sent me… this article :).
    I asked for my raise 10 days ago and I got it! Thank you – your articles really helped me taking the leap :).

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