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The idea of asking for more responsibility or a raise may be a bit anxiety-inducing, but it doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable experience!

As long as your asks are realistic, you should feel comfortable approaching your employer to share what you'd like to earn, achieve, or work on. Here's how to ask for a raise, promotion, or more responsibility at work.  

Setting realistic goals

Take a few minutes to reflect on what you have accomplished over the last year (or more). That means answering these questions for yourself:

  • What were your primary work responsibilities and to-dos this past year?
  • What are the top three challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
  • What have been your measurable contributions to work?
  • Are you fairly compensated for the efforts you put into your job?
  • What do you want to do less of next year?
  • What do you want to do more of next year?

These questions will help you recognize which strengths you nurtured, what you have achieved, and what your next career steps may be. Your answers to these questions will serve as the foundation for your 2023 goals, and beyond.

How to ask for more responsibility

Asking for more responsibility can feel a lot easier than asking for more money. However, you still need to be prepared to make your case based on how closely you have fulfilled your basic responsibilities (e.g. those that would be listed in the job description for your role), and how you have gone above and beyond

There is a certain amount of flexibility in asking your manager for more responsibility—it all depends on what you want. For example, if you find yourself finishing your basic responsibilities quickly and have time to spare, you can simply let your manager know you have the time to commit to more. 

If, however, you want to be eligible for a big promotion, then approach your manager more strategically. Let them know that you want to be promoted. To support your ask, remind them of what you have accomplished in your role, as well as noting how you have gone above and beyond your role to contribute at work. 

How to ask for a raise

When it comes to asking for a raise, approach your manager much in the same way you would if you were preparing your candidacy for a promotion. The biggest difference with a raise, however, is that you need to temper your expectations before walking into your manager’s office. 

If you believe your contributions deserve a raise, you can absolutely ask for one—but only after you have done your homework, which entails answering the above-mentioned questions. You want to pay attention to how your organization’s financial situation may have changed in 2022 and how that has affected their forecast for 2023. 

If, for example, your organization’s fortunes have significantly changed for the worse, approach your manager with realistic expectations. When you make your case to them, you may even want to say something like, “I know that last year was difficult for our organization, but here is why I’m asking for an X% raise.” By being proactive and acknowledging the proverbial elephant in the room, your manager will appreciate that you see the challenges but that you also brought clear value to the table. 

How to ask for a promotion

And what if you want both more responsibility and more money—also known as a promotion? In this case, your approach will be similar to asking for a raise. You will need to come prepared with clear evidence of your effectiveness in your current position.

Perhaps your organization has a clear hierarchy or pay grade system. In this case, you may easily be able to access the core competencies of each job grade and demonstrate how you've been going above and beyond in your current position.

If you work at a smaller organization or one with a flat hierarchy, the path to a promotion may not be so clear cut. But you could, for example, express your desire to manage a project or team (or at least a few interns!) and have a title bump to more accurately reflect your new responsibilities—this could be something like moving from an "Associate" to "Senior Associate" position.

Stay top of mind

There is a chance that your manager is convinced by your case, but cannot commit to promoting you or raising your salary until later. This may be disappointing, but keep in mind that this isn’t a sly brush-off—it’s just the nature of the times we live in. Your task, then, is to follow up with respect and consideration so that when your organization is ready, you’re the first person who comes to mind.

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Nisha Kumar Kulkarni profile image

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni is a writer and creative coach in New York City. She helps women living with chronic illness and mental health challenges to pursue their passion projects without compromising their health.

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