How do I Negotiate a Raise?

I (24M) am a Production Artist / Designer at a small agency in a mid-sized midwest city. “Small” meaning its me, a creative director (9 years at the agency), a copywriter / accounts person (6 years at the agency), and the president (25 years at the agency), who also does a lot of copywriting and accounts stuff. This is my first official job (not including two years of freelancing). I currently make 45K annually, before deductions. I’m coming up on my one year review in a few days. I talked to the creative director and they assured my that at my review, some sort of raise will be offered. They just didn’t tell me how much.

Having done the math, I think I’d like at least a 5% raise. this is for a variety of reasons (home buying, family growth, inflation etc…). This would also shake out to about 47.25K per year or 3937 per month gross, which is just $93 more per paycheck (I’m paid bi-monthly).

Now I know this might be crazy, greedy, naive, entitled etc… Please remember I’m not very educated in what I should expect here. Just trying to get my bearings.

Now for the tricky part. I’m having trouble thinking of negotiating points (for if my boss offers me a raise that’s too low) largely because I dont think I’m very remarkable at my job. I show up on time, I do what I’m told, and have it done by the deadlines. I missed a major deadline last year, about three months after starting, and my boss was very upset. however, I have not repeated that mistake. I’m still slower than I’d like at getting tasks done, but no disciplinary action or scolding has taken place. In fact, my boss and teammates say I’m doing well.

I also have serious impostor syndrome and dont think I’m particularly good at my job period.

When I’ve looked into how to negotiate, many articles I’ve read say to develop a brag sheet; all the stellar work I’ve done over the past year. That feels weird to me, since I’m still learning, still make mistakes, and can’t really look at a project and say “that was perfect”.

That being said, I still want/need the raise.

Am I naive? How do I argue this? Halp!

I am from a mid-sized Midwest city. To me, $45K sounds on the low side, but that is just a cursory opinion. I’d suggest you do some research on LinkedIn and see what sort or salary ranges are out there for similar jobs. I don’t know about bringing that up in the review. On the one hand, you could say something like, “Similar positions are paying $XXK to $XXK annually.” That would demonstrate market rates, but it could come off as a threat to leave. Sorry not to be of more help.

Don’t belittle yourself with those words. Think of yourself as ambitious. You want to help the business grow so you can take on more responsibility and move up.

Your living expenses are going to increase every year as a result of inflation. At very least, you have to get a cost of living adjustment of at least 4% every year. Anything less is the equivalent of a pay cut because you’re losing buying power.

You’re missing the key takeaways. Those are all great assets in an employee. You don’t have to be a genius. Reliability is a bankable trait. There are a lot of people who screw around on the job. They show up late, leave early, take long lunches, mess around on their phone, wander around the office distracting people, whine about trivial things… Don’t do that. Give your employer good value for your salary, and hopefully they’re smart enough to see it.

Invest in therapy. If you think you suck you will shortchange yourself over and over again.


Be prepared with comparable salary ranges for your area to ensure that you’re paid fairly; this doesn’t have to come across as a threat. Come up with a number that you would be happy with, and then ask for a number that you would be ecstatic about. It’s a horrible feeling to walk away from a negotiation thinking you left money on the table. Also have a list of your accomplishments and the ways you’ve brought value to the company to back up your request. I understand that you’re feeling unsure of yourself, that’s par for the course for our industry, but you wouldn’t still be there if you weren’t doing your job well.

If you do get a lower offer than you wanted, ask what specific things you can do to earn the salary that you’re hoping for and arrange a timeline to hit those goals and revisit, in 6 months etc.

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I cured my imposter syndrome by going back to graduate school. The main thing I learned was that the professors knew no more than I did and frequently less. Imposter’s syndrome is overrated. Don’t let it get in your way.

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No need to argue or negotiate.

Here’s what I did last time I wanted a raise and got it; I litterally went to my boss and said:

I’d like to make more money, because I’m saving to buy a house.
What else could I do or are there any additional responsibilites I could take on, that you think would be of value to the company, so that I could make more money?

Don’t try to negoiate or be slick. Just realize that it’s a value exchange and be yourself and be up front.

But firstly, I’d keep my mouth shut in the review to see if they just offer you more anyway and if they haven’t by the end of it then I’d ask the question.