Future of Work

4 effective tips for requesting a raise 

promotion work raise covid19 coronavirus

Career adviser Karen Coffey says don't bring up your personal situation. Image: Unsplash/ JJ Ying

Sarah Todd
Senior Reporter, Quartz
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Future of Work?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Future of Work is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Future of Work

This article is part of: The Jobs Reset Summit
  • COVID-19 has caused unprecedented economic disruption.
  • While it may be intimidating to do so, it is still possible to ask for a raise during a pandemic.
  • Below are 4 tips for how to ask for a raise, including knowing your own value to the company and also the business's overall financial situation.

The economic outlook is rough. The prospect of further layoffs looms. But if you think the coronavirus pandemic means you can’t ask for a raise—well, that’s exactly what your employers want you to think.

“A lot of companies are having record months, even now,” says career adviser Karen Coffey, whose coaching business has worked with employees of companies ranging from Walt Disney and Bank of America to Berkshire Hathaway. “Don’t just assume they’re struggling, because they will use that to ward off employees from asking.”

Instead, she recommends asking for a raise much as you normally would—that is, after lots of careful research and preparation, so that you can point clearly to evidence that your contributions are helping the company succeed.

But she does have a handful of pandemic-specific tips. For starters:

Don’t mention the economy in negotiations

“Don’t ever bring up the pandemic in asking for a raise,” Coffey says. “Business has not stopped, so don’t open that escape hatch.”

If your boss brings up the economic climate during the conversation, Coffey says, acknowledge the problem, but emphasize how the work you’re doing is helping to keep the company afloat.


“You can say, Maybe business is not booming, but this is what I’ve brought to the table,” she suggests. “Maybe you’ve brought something that is saving them right now.”

Don’t discuss your personal financial situation

The pandemic has also taken a toll on many people’s finances, so it may seem relevant to mention a laid-off spouse or extra childcare costs in explaining why you’re asking for a higher salary now. But Coffey advises against it.

“It depends on your relationship with management,” she says. But “quite honestly, your personal situation doesn’t matter to the bottom line of the company.”

Since the information is unlikely to sway your boss’s decision, it’s better to focus on the factors that will.

Do highlight how your job has changed

The pandemic has changed some people’s jobs in a way that certainly merits a raise—whether they’ve absorbed extra work after a company declined to backfill a teammate’s position, or taken on extra responsibilities or risk as a front-line worker.

Front-line workers in particular ought to have a lot of leverage right now, Coffey notes. “I see a lot of front-line workers leaving their positions, saying, Forget it, it’s not worth it. So I believe now is the perfect time to ask” for a raise.

Do set a follow-up date

If your boss does wind up saying no to your raise request because the money simply isn’t there right now, Coffey says that’s not the end of negotiations. “If they say No, this isn’t a good time, then say, Great, can we revisit this in January?” She suggests. That way, you’ve already started the conversation, “so you’re not having to redo this whole process in three months.”

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Future of WorkFuture of WorkDavos Agenda
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Green job vacancies are on the rise – but workers with green skills are in short supply

Andrea Willige

February 29, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum