here’s a real-life example of an email asking for a raise

I recently received this letter from a reader:

I’m a long-time reader of your site. I’ve got several part-time jobs — some of which I’ve been with for a very long time, and I’ve known that I was very underpaid relative to the skills I bring. And I finally reached the point where I was ready to leave one of them if I didn’t get fair pay. I had never asked for a raise at this job before, so I read up on your site, and I did some research.

I decided to ask for an X% raise, knowing that I was highly unlikely to get it, but having decided that I would accept Y% for now. I wrote an email to my boss to propose this, making it clear that I wanted to meet to discuss it but give her the heads-up/justification for the request in advance so she could think about it and see what she could do.

I looked at websites to try to get average numbers for my field and expertise. (Of course, it’s hard to find great comparisons when it’s a nonprofit in a niche field.) And I also had the benefit of knowing what a local competitor was offering. I had trusted friends read my email through a few drafts — I wanted it to be clear and easy to read, have enough details but not so many to get bogged down, and have a conversational style that wasn’t apologetic.

AND IT WORKED! My boss took it much better than I would have expected, and she came back with some package options instead of just money, and I feel like we were both pretty satisfied in the end.

This writer agreed to let me share the email with readers here, because it’s an excellent example of how to be straightforward about this stuff. One thing that’s great about this example is that it’s so conversational — so often people assume they have to be very formal when discussing pay, and much of the time you don’t. Of course, the tone here might not work for your particular relationship with your boss, but it clearly struck the right note for this situation — and I think it could help people to see it so here it is (anonymized in places):

Hey, Jane,

I know that we’ve had conversations in the past that at least mentioned the fact that the Battlestar Galactica is my lowest paid job. I’d like to revisit that – with a conversation in the next week or two, but email first so you have a chance to think about it.

It’s always a little difficult to determine what market rate is, especially for a niche role in a nonprofit setting. I looked at the space travel salary calculator, which doesn’t go back as far as my graduation year. (Does that mean I’m old now?) It was still useful as a start. Putting in 2010 as my graduation year (the furthest back it would go, which is also when I started working here), the colony of Caprica, non-profit practice, and no residency (because the residency I completed has nothing to do with my practice scope), the salary calculator shows an average of $XX/year. Dividing that by 50 weeks in a year (assuming a minimum two weeks paid vacation) and 4 days a week (most full-time spaceship jobs at this point consider four working days per week to be full-time) results in $X/day. If you want to use a five-day work week, that still results in $Y/day. Either way, this will also have full-time benefits attached, which usually includes health insurance, a minimum of two weeks (usually more) paid time off, licensure, membership dues, and continuing education allowance. If we split the difference there and took benefits into account, we’d be looking at about $Z/day.

For a local comparison – since salary calculators don’t determine everything — the Prometheus is offering a base salary of $AA/year for a four-day work week for doing raptor flights only, plus production bonuses based on the number of ship repairs performed. They also offer all of the benefits I mentioned above – and the licensure, memberships, and CE allowance are offered even to their part-time staff. Without the benefits, that’s still a base salary of $BB/day, and I was told to definitely expect monthly production bonuses given my skill set.

I know that production bonuses were offered at the time we all started – I remember Apollo mentioning that at my interview – but I’ve heard since then from other staff members that you’re not a fan of production pay. I hope that by now I’ve earned trust from long-time colleagues – that I’m not going to jeopardize a ship and rush a repair for the sake of more money, especially when I have no control over the numbers that are scheduled. I get paid on production at Cloud 9, and no one there has ever questioned my motives when I say either yes, we can fit that in, or no, that one has to wait until tomorrow/next time. At the same time, I don’t want to deal with production pay and having to pay attention to the numbers and making sure that they are correct. And it is easier to budget for consistent numbers.

Let me know when works to meet in the next week or two, once you’ve had a chance to consider this and see what you can do. I’ve been appreciative of the chance to further develop these skills at the Galactica, and as I look back over pay history, I started at $CC/day in 2016 (that was when we switched from hourly to make budgeting easier), and I would have to say, with understatement, that I’m a lot faster now. (For example, 32 ship repairs in just over seven hours on Tuesday.) While I appreciate the raise I saw went through on Friday’s paycheck, I’m looking to get closer to the $Z/day I mentioned above.

{ 112 comments… read them below }

  1. bookartist*

    Honestly, if someone I managed sent me an email of this length asking for a raise, I would stop reading and just ask them into my office or on a call.

    1. Helewise*

      I’ve had a boss like this and it’s not great. A conversation is part of what needs to happen here, but in the past I’ve needed my boss to slow down for twenty seconds to actually consider whatever the discussion topic is, especially if research or detailed information is involved.

      1. Aquamarine*

        Exactly – it doesn’t sound like too much to ask that a manager consider the background information she provided. Compensation is important, and I think an employee should be able to get their thoughts out without her manager cutting her off.
        Also, it’s a few paragraphs – I don’t see what the big deal is.

      2. Lacey*

        Yup. My boss would be like this too and I’d be really frustrated.

        It doesn’t help that I’ve known many managers who want a conversation rather than an email so they can be more evasive.

        1. just some guy*

          And for some of us, marshalling this kind of stuff in writing is a lot easier than in a verbal conversation with all the nervousness that goes with asking for stuff!

      1. nnn*

        I hope you’re joking because that would be really dismissive of a manager in response to a message about something so important to the sender.

        I’ve managed teams for more than a decade. I like this e-mail.

        1. Oolong*

          Agree. Compensation is a pretty big deal, not at all appropriate for a TL;DR approach. Managers should put serious thought into them.

          I would organize the information a little better, but it all needs to be in there.

        2. Heather*

          Well, no, obviously I wouldn’t literally write “too long; didn’t read” in an email to an employee, for heaven’s sake. But that WOULD be my thought, and I’d likely respond with, “Can we set up a time to discuss this?”

          1. parrot*

            OP said they wanted to set up a time to discuss it in the second sentence of their email

            1. Yikes Stripes*

              Well, that first sentence has 24 words in it. Everyone knows that the cut-off for teal deer is 25 words, so clearly expecting anyone to go past the first word in the second sentence is asking too much.


              But yeah, if someone was managed by someone who needs very short and to the point communication like Heather or Bookartist, the sender would hopefully know that and tailor their initial email to them.

              1. Yorick*

                Great point. If you know your boss doesn’t read your emails, you’d do this a little differently.

        3. Distracted Librarian*

          I agree. All the information in the email is directly relevant to the request and should inform the manager’s response. Sometimes we managers need to slow down and take in information before rushing to a decision.

        4. umami*

          That’s kinda the point, though. It’s too important to make such a long email that could be a turn-off. I’m a big fan of detail and justification, but this, for me, felt really long and convoluted. I would prefer something more succinct, and maybe some bullets or a table to offer more clarity. It’s just .. a lot of narrative to weed through.

          1. Electric sheep*

            It likely feels more convoluted due to being anonymised via battlestar galactica. In reality a lot of it talks about job tasks, functions and industry norms the boss would already be across

            1. Princess Sparklepony*

              But I do so love it when they anonymise the letters. This one was pretty funny. But I also like teapots and llamas. It makes me want to start a business making llama themed teapots. (Because teapot themed llamas seems very problematic.)

          2. fhqwhgads*

            Here’s why I disagree: in my experience when these things start with a meeting, the manager ends up saying something to the effect of “go away and research this and give me some numbers to use” or if you come to the meeting with numbers, they wash over the manager and it doesn’t really register, or the manager starts trying to talk you out of it/shoot you down before you can give them the data.
            The point in this case is to give them the info first, make it harder for them to presume you don’t actually have the info, make it harder for them to conveniently forget what you told them, or consolidate the part where you talk about it to AFTER they’ve had the chance to digest the info.
            If they were never going to consider it, they’ll still not do so. But if it’s someone who would listen to data when presented it, it’s great first move to present it.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              Exactly–if you were pitching this in an in-person conversation they would expect you to have numbers and data to support you. This email is just giving those in advance so the manager can have time to think about it prior to the discussion.

              It seems similar to the fact that my boss sends me my annual review before the meeting we have to discuss it so I can read it in advance to digest and see if I have any questions.

        5. Alternative Person*

          Same. My job entails a certain delicate touch when it comes to dealing with stakeholders in their various forms. It sometimes results in long e-mails in a similar vein to this one because laying it all out like this is the most practical way to get the point(s) across. Does it sometimes require three reads and 30 minute digestion time? Sure. But better to do that and be clear where things/you stand than not.

          (I get the occasional preemptive defensiveness in those kinds of e-mails isn’t fun to deal with but that’s the nature of the beast sometimes)

      2. just some guy*

        It’s five paragraphs. Less than a page. For an important issue that is only going to be discussed once every few years.

      3. JSPA*

        You work in a field where numbers and data are irrelevant? Or where they’re only presented in chart format, with no context supplied? Or where there is money to burn, so justifications and data are irrelevant?

    2. Pete*

      It would be disappointing if my supervisor chose not read the email. That’s all the information presented better than I can do “in person.”

      My response once it was clear my boss hadn’t read it would be, “Of course we’ll talk later, but please read the foundation for that conversation first. Thanks.”

      My preferred response would be, “I took the time to write this for you, and you’re just dismissing it. Maybe I don’t want to work for you at all.”

      1. Karen*

        It’s not just managers, it’s pretty much everyone. I also like to assume that when you read something you’ll remember it, which apparently isn’t true for most people.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I’m someone who isn’t going to remember all the details of what I’ve read and I struggle with this.

          I remember a LOT LESS from spur of the moment conversations that I’m unprepared for. If I don’t take copious notes, I’m not going to remember what happened 24 hours later (sometimes much less).

          Honestly, that’s why I’m in HUGE favor of detailed emails/memos like this. I don’t *have* to remember all of the details – I just have to remember that you sent them and I can easily pull it up and refresh my memory when the time comes.

      2. OMG, Bees!*

        Unfortunately, I had a boss who is dyslexic (you only need to get semi close to spelling that correctly for autocorrect to figure what you mean) and if he had this wordy an email, he would ignore most of it. I understand that is situational, as a long, in depth email would work for some and not others.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          But that’s an actual accommodation issue. Most the manager types here who said “I wouldn’t read all that” don’t have a reason other than that they don’t want to.

          I think the anonymizing in this case is working against the letter itself, as it makes it harder to follow than it would if the details were aspects of your own field and items you see day to day.

        2. Yorick*

          Dyslexic people have accommodations that can help them with emails. Not reading them isn’t that.

        3. gimble*

          The approach certainly needs to be appropriate to the specific boss, which Allison knows. I am a manager with dyscalculia, so I would be extremely grateful to have the numbers laid out and explained this way in narrative – hearing them for the first time in a meeting would be completely incomprehensible and stressful.

    3. HR Friend*


      This email is too long, and it’s way too hard to follow with all the “if this, then that.. but considering that, then math.” A better template would be, 1/ I deserve a raise because [accomplishments], 2/ I’ve done research, which I can share, and at market my job pays X, 3/ let’s talk.

      Also an entire (long) paragraph about bonuses that are no longer given is clouding the entire message.

      1. nnn*

        It worked for them so apparently they judged correctly for their work environment.

        This happens every time Alison shares a real life example—“well it wouldn’t work for ME because….” It worked for the writer. Adapt for different circumstances differently.

        1. Venus*

          I think “well it wouldn’t work for ME because… ” is too kind.

          What many folks are saying is “This email is bad and shouldn’t have been written this way” when what they really should say is “This email wouldn’t work for me”.

          Some of the commenters lack subtlety and kindness. Thank you for not being one of them!

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I got bogged down too, but then I realized if I’d received the letter with the real numbers in there and with an understanding of the field and OP’s role in the company it would be easy skim the letter, pull the numbers note yes, no or maybe.
        (but looking at my comment, I write pretty long sentences myself).

      3. umami*

        That’s why I believe it’s valid to point out that this format won’t work in many environments. It’s offered as a strong example, and I get that it also was successful, but it is terribly wordy. There is value in letting others know that being concise and presenting information in a format that is palatable (bullets and tables vs. straight narrative) can also be useful and might even be more successful.

      4. Brisbe*

        Keep in mind also that with the bonuses no longer given, that is adding the context of ‘Here’s something that was used in the past to justify a lower base salary; that situation no longer applies.’

      5. Coco*

        I agree. I love the concept and the thoroughness, though. Just take that and put it in bullets or shorter sentences with fewer bracketed points.

        Also, would highlight your improved performance! In this letter it’s an afterthought at the end. Give the reasons for the raise before the calculations and give yourself the credit. Market value is important but so is your dedication.

    4. tamarack & fireweed*

      As any communication, this sort of thing needs to be tailored to your audience. The OP clearly judged her manager and the style in her org correctly. (Also, even though the camouflage and replacements, this is clearly an environment with complicated, time-critical tasks and policies, so they’re probably used to thinking in these terms.)

    5. Lily Rowan*

      I have worked for people who would have appreciated having everything laid out in advance, and for people who never read more than one line of an email. You have to know your audience, and clearly the OP did know her audience.

      1. pally*


        I worked for a boss who just could not follow anything beyond the second sentence (verbal or written). So I learned to bottom-line things in the first sentence. Then let him ask for the data/justification.

        And now I have a boss who took this approach to tell ME I was underpaid. And while he talked (and talked!), I was thinking “just bottom-line it for me! Are ya increasing my salary or what?”.

    6. Critical Rolls*

      If my staff took the time to do this level of research, explain their thinking, and present their case, the least I would owe them is the courtesy of a full read-through.

    7. Medium Sized Manager*

      It also might be content – I found myself skimming a ton, but I a) don’t have any skin in the game and b) don’t know or care about raptors and ships. I would care a lot more if it was a) my direct report and b) have first-hand knowledge and expertise related to the topic. I’m sure we’ve all gotten lengthy emails about more mundane topics, but the entire email is relevant and keeps our interest.

    8. Not A Manager*

      See, if someone tried to give me that level of detail and all of those numbers verbally, I would be like FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WRITE IT DOWN FOR ME. I couldn’t follow 1/10th of that information in a conversation.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Another huge benefit of having it written down is that for a great many positions, the immediate boss is not the sole decision-maker for a raise — they’re usually bringing it to higher-ups (or a board or committee or whatever) and going to bat for their employee. In such cases, it’s great for the boss to have those details for the next steps, whether to use when first presenting the raise arguments or to have immediately at hand if asked about them.

        It also means there’s less room for misunderstandings or misremembering of figures, to help keep everyone on the same page and ensure that any offered raise meets expectations all around rather than someone’s misconceptions.

        1. Jiminy Cricket*

          This right here. Of course they will discuss it in person or on a call. But this way there should be no mis-hearing of numbers or mis-remembering requests.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          This is a great point. I had a situation once where I complained to my boss in a check-in about one of our external partners and how they conducted a training. She asked me to send her my complaint in email form, because that would make it easier for her to forward the information on to her boss (she wasn’t present in the training).

          I can easily imagine in this context being asked for the raise request in an email so that it could be forwarded on to HR or some other decision maker.

    9. Peanut Hamper*

      LW says they want to give their boss a chance to think about it.

      Compensation is a big deal. A short email that says little more than “hey boss, I want more money or I’m going to flounce; can we talk about it?” would probably leave me a bit miffed.

      But this is different. It’s clear that LW has done their homework, thought through the ramifications, and presented some options. This gives their boss a lot of information to chew on and possibly ask some questions back.

      I think what may be throwing people off in thinking that this is too long is that all the identifying details have been obscured (and thankfully not by llamas or teapots) and that does make it a bit hard to follow.

      But anybody who put this much time and research into this issue deserves to get a full read. I mean really, it takes what, a minute or two to read this through once? Maybe five minutes to skim it and then go back and read it more carefully. LW definitely deserves a full read.

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        I think the commentariat is just quibbling a bit over process. OP did their homework, and it’s important to show the work. That’s the main point. But there’s a lot of different ways to present data, and a lot of valid thoughts on how to craft an email. I’ve enjoyed reading those perspectives and don’t consider them a personal attack on OP.

    10. Beth*

      It’s long, but it’s not wordy or overwrought–it’s consistently adding new, relevant, useful information. It’s clear that the goal is to share all the relevant info (that they need a raise, why they think that’s necessary given their skill level/role/industry, what level of compensation they’re hoping to get to, the market research they’ve done to back up the numbers they’re asking for, that they’re expecting their manager to think about it and be ready to talk about it in a week or two) so they can have a productive, fruitful, well-informed conversation.

      There are definitely managers who would prefer the tl;dr: version. But this is a great email for someone whose manager is going to want all the numbers and details, plus time to do their own research, before they’re ready to have a real talk about it. This person clearly knew their manager well, since it worked!

      1. parrot*

        Right, this clearly worked for OP’s situation! I feel bad that OP was nice enough to let Alison publish their email, and the first wave of comments was a bunch of criticism (and not even particularly helpful criticism).

    11. Cherries Jubilee*

      I had a bad boss like that, and I wouldn’t recommend it. This is a thoughtful email containing a lot of data that the boss in question should take time to read and digest so that they’re on the same page before the in-person discussion is had. It’s not a thoughtful response to check out one paragraph in and go “ehh, tell it to my face instead.” The discussion points here merit consideration and research.

    12. sara*

      When I had a manager like this, I used to basically have the email ready to send, go into their office to chat/intro the thing, and then send the email with the details. And then we’d have a follow-up meeting. So basically, a “warm” fact-filled email (warm in that it was prepped for and expected not warm tone). I’d do this for any sort of complicated issue that I thought might be ignored, or would be a bit of a debate. So basically intro the topic, send the email, follow-up in person after boss has had time to digest facts.

    13. Shoryl*

      as Alison mentioned, obviously you want to tailor this to your manager. my grandboss would love all of this detail. my old grandboss would prefer a chart (I’m an accountant, so we are number/comparison geeks in our part of the field)

    1. Sloanicota*

      That was my thought. I wouldn’t have showed my calculations for the salary up front in an email at such length. “I think X rate is fair based on my review of the other Space Colonies, and I can send you the math on that if you’re interested.” I would have wanted to get these email down to one paragraph ideally. But, glad for OP that it worked!

      1. Joielle*

        Agreed. I might go as far as to create a separate document with the math and attach it to the email if I thought they’d want to see it up front, but it’s a LOT text for what boils down to a pretty simple/reasonable ask. I think over-justifying the request makes it seem more complicated than it is and weakens the case. I’m glad it worked for the LW but if anyone else is pursuing this strategy I’d try for a shorter email!

        1. Somehow_I_Manage*

          This would be it for me- something like this would be perfect:

          “I’ve done some analysis to benchmark my salary and justify a raise (attached). The data shows a reasonable salary request would be $X. Looking forward to discussing.”

          If the request is reasonable and it’s the right thing to do- I’m going to get it done quickly. If I need backup data to advocate upward for my staff- it would be nice to have it in a clean, organized file I can print or forward.

          Again, that’s what would work for me as a manager. OP clearly knows what works for them.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I am glad this worked for the LW and I don’t mean to rain on her parade, but I agree – as an editor I found myself thinking “cut this, cut this, cut this” — especially how she calculated market rate, it’s too many details that don’t really matter.

      I AM glad it worked, though, and I know it can be hard to advocate for oneself, so congratulations on having the hard conversation!

      1. Graybeard*

        Whereas as a manager I absolutely want the details on how the numbers were calculated so I can defend the reasoning to _my_ management. The last thing I want is to try to go to bat for someone and be shown up as not having my ducks in a row.

    3. Sara without an H*

      A lot depends on the manager and the local culture. Had it been me, I would have been a little more concise, BUT I’ve also reported to administrators who really wanted details and context up front, especially if they had to take the message to another administrator.

      Short form: It sounds as though the Letter Writer knew her own manager and presented her case in a form that worked. Know your audience.

    4. Katie N.*

      “most corporate settings” is an incredibly broad generalization. I work in corporate America in a pretty common field and this email would be wholly appropriate.

  2. MissBliss*

    I agree with folks that maybe this is a little long, but it is also *exactly* how I would have written it myself, and probably also the best way I would receive this information from a supervisee! Well done, OP, and congrats.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I agree, having it all laid out like this makes it very clear. It also gives the manager the chance to just go ahead and present it to HR or whomever has final say over raises, so if the manager agreed that OP deserved a raise, they could get the ball rolling and a talk could be to finalize the plan or just implement the raise. It allows for further discussion or immediate implementation.

    2. Jaydee*

      Yeah, all I would change would be maybe to break it up into shorter paragraphs and bullet points to more easily compare the different jobs she’s using as comparisons. But I wouldn’t make any substantive changes. This is all the necessary and relevant info for market comparison calculations.

      I also noted this is for a non-profit which makes me wonder if there’s not an obvious direct comparison to one or more other non-profits in the area so she’s having to go more in-depth to argue that private sector or government jobs are directly comparable.

    3. Jaydee*

      Yeah, I might have tried to move some of the factors that went into my calculations into bullet points just to make it less text-dense, but that’s about it. This is totally how I write and the level of information I would provide. And I would appreciate the thoroughness if I received it.

  3. Momma Bear*

    It’s a matter of knowing your audience and it worked for the LW. A lot of people would be nervous to ask for even more money after a raise, but kudos to LW for deciding that the raise was not in line with the value of their work. They aren’t asking for something ridiculous. Feels akin to the difference between a COLA and merit increase.

  4. ErikaOtter*

    I like the collaborative tone of it. As a supervisor, I think I’m a decent reader and this was still pretty long for me, but the sense of working together that it holds is compelling.

  5. Oolong*

    If you have paid time off, you should divide by 52 weeks, ie, the entire pay period. It’s a small error, though.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Thank you. I thought that was an odd way to calculate it as well and the PTO may be why.

  6. NeedRain47*

    Whether this will work or not depends a lot more on your particular boss/work environment, than on the quality of the letter, I suspect.

    1. not bitter, just sour*

      Agreed. My company has made it pretty clear there’s not much room for raises and that there’s a much lower cap than people deserve.


  7. KitBee*

    Congrats to the LW on a successful negotiation! I do agree with the folks saying this email feels too long, but I also don’t think the LW included anything irrelevant or extraneous. If I were going to change one thing, I’d just state my request up front: “Hey Jane, I’d like to meet with you in the next week or two to discuss raising my pay to $XX.” And then I’d get into the reasoning and calculations after that. That way, the LW’s ask is immediately clear, and the boss knows the bottom line right away, even if she doesn’t have time to read the whole email right at that moment.

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      I’m a big fan of the Proposal -> Rationale -> Background format. Don’t bury the lede, as they say. But I get this could be work culture dependant and LW knew her audience.

  8. Ugh*

    To the people saying this email is too long…hush lol

    It’s not like OP was asking feedback from it right away. This is very much a “read when you have time and digest appropriately.”

    1. ecnaseener*

      Seriously. No matter how many caveats in the original post about this being something you tailor to your own environment and your own boss, some people just can’t keep their mouths shut on a congratulatory post.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yep. It’s an email. The boss can take a look at the length and decide “oh, not right now; I’ll save this for when I have more time and energy” or however they decide to approach it. LW knew their boss, knew the environment, knew the facts and presented them clearly, and wrote a great email. (Great because it got them what they wanted!)

        As I always say — YMMV (your mileage may vary).

        Anyway OP, if you read this — congrats on the raise and thanks for sharing!!!

    2. Courageous cat*

      I mean, the comment section is for feedback on the letters at hand, no? It’s ok, normal, and even expected that other people have different opinions on it.

      1. ecnaseener*

        No, when the person isn’t asking for feedback the comment section isn’t for critical feedback.

  9. pcake*

    I’m glad the letter worked – it’s the kind I prefer to receive, but I feel the letter writer got lucky with this one. Most people see what they perceive as a wall of text, feel overwhelmed, and they give up before they start reading. My husband’s boss literally never reads past the first sentence of any email, and he feels very negative about the sender if the email is long.

    I’ve found that in 90% of emails I write in the course of my work, readers don’t read the entire thing even if I deliberately keep it quite short. Also in the course of my work, we’ve tested written work by breaking short articles into multiple pages, and we find if the text is dense, people rarely make it to the second page.

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      I think that’s fair and I’d agree. Alison in fact offers similar advice on crafting an email:

      That being said, all the ingredients were there for OP to be successful. They understood their value, they made a justifiable request, they brought it up with their boss, and they secured an answer. While the nuts and bolts of how to formulate a request and whether to present it formally/informally/written/orally are going to vary, it is useful to show off a real life example that puts all the pieces together.

      Congrats OP!

    2. Yikes Stripes*

      I suspect it’s less a matter of “got lucky” and more a matter of knowing their manager and how they’d respond to an email like this.

  10. Ginger Cat Lady*

    The number of managers here who say they wouldn’t even bother to read this is horribly discouraging.
    I could say other things about the people with that attitude but it would probably get taken down.
    Please, managers, take time to read and consider someone who has put something like this together for you. You’re not so important you can’t spend a few minutes hearing your people (not robotic work doers, PEOPLE) out.

    1. Curious*

      I very much agree. pretty much all of the information was directly relevant to the request. I’m sorry, but I see many of the “this is too much detail for manager to read” as essentially saying “don’t confuse me with the facts.”

    2. Rex Libris*

      I don’t think most of us mean we wouldn’t actually read it, just that we’d find it more compelling if it were shorter and more focused. Or at least that’s my thought, even if I use TL;DR as shorthand for my initial reaction.

    3. Paris Geller*

      Yeah, it’s really bothering me! I put it in a word counter–617 words. Less than 1k of an employee laying out why they’re valuable, the analysis they took to get there, and people are complaining they wouldn’t want to read the whole thing? I would say reading emails from your employees is kind of the bare minimum of you know, managing.

    4. Hannah Lee*


      Even if it’s a long email for a manager’s *preferred* way of receiving information, how hard is it to slow your roll this one time, realize your employee put some time, effort and thought into it?

      It took all of 2-3 minutes to read. If this is an employee who does a good job, that you want to treat professionally and with respect, wouldn’t it be worth it to spend less time than it would likely take to go get a cup of coffee/tea to read through it? They weren’t looking for an immediate response, allowing time for their boss to read it when they had time.

      And yes, it’s a know your audience thing, but LW apparently did in their case, because it worked. So it’s not a blanket “that’s too looooong!” situation. And being so dismissive of a thoughtful approach, right off the bat, and so self-righteous about it was strange. IMO

      1. Aquamarine*

        It’s so weird to me that people object to reading an email – it’s not like she plunked down some 1,000 page thesis. It just doesn’t take very long to read. And no, it’s not “too long” because it worked beautifully.

      2. annonie*

        Yeah, a lot of people telling on themselves here and not realizing it. You wouldn’t take 2 minutes to read an email from your employee about their compensation? Maybe think twice about that then.

        1. kmh*

          Telling on themselves is right! Alison’s advice is often as long as this email, and these folks enjoy reading this site enough to comment on it. So they obviously can read, it’s just that they don’t care?

    5. Joron Twiner*

      Agreed. I bet people would read this if your manager wrote a long email about YOUR compensation, or a client/vendor renegotiating a deal, so the least people could do is give the same attention to the people whose labor they manage.

  11. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

    Thank you for sharing your success, OP. Congratulations on getting a raise (and it sounds like other perks as well).

    I apologize to you for all the folks who can’t get past announcing their own irrelevant preferences long enough to thank you and congratulate you too – I’m sure they meant to, but forgot.

    1. The Charioteer*

      I would assume this website is for useful information and feedback about work matters that benefit whatever reader may come across it, which includes a diversity of opinions about things like this letter and are definitely relevant.

      A polite congratulations to some anonymous writer might surely come alongside that, not instead of it.

  12. Still*

    Congrats! It’s so lovely of the LW to share a real-world successful email with us, when the internet is full of generic advice and very few concrete examples.

  13. buckminsterfullerene*

    Folks, as Alison noted, this was an email tailored to the person’s audience and it worked. Clearly this indicates that this is a communication style that is in line with how the employee regularly communicates with their manager. There’s no one universal template for writing an email like this; if you have a manager who prefers brevity in email communication, write a shorter email and ask to schedule an in-person talk to follow up. If you are a manager who prefers brevity, hopefully your direct reports know that and if they send you an email asking for a raise they will write it accordingly. It’s great that this employee hit upon an approach with her manager that got the result she was hoping for and as such it’s totally unnecessary to jump in trying to knock her down a peg. Please remember that the people who write to Alison are actual real human beings who read this site and will in all likelihood be reading the comments. It’s wild that even with Alison including multiple caveats that this is an example of an email tailored to a specific industry and to an existing relationship/communication style between employee and manager and people are so eager to criticize as if this is a one-size-fits-all template. Jeez.

  14. Katie N.*

    I hope I never have a manager who dismisses a thoughtful 600-word email from me as TL;DR. That’s why you get paid the big bucks, boss. Well done, OP, and congrats!

  15. CM*

    This is great. I teach negotiation! And this email does so many things that I advise my learners to do:

    – Does not soften, apologize, or otherwise talk around the issue. Treats compensation like something that can and should be discussed in a straightforward way.

    – Refers to market rate with verifiable, objective numbers. Including an actual pay rate from a local competitor — great job in finding this info, OP! (Also, this subtly suggests that there are other options out there for the OP, while the rest of the letter is positive and detailed enough that the OP is clearly trying to make this situation work and not looking for a way out.)

    – Explains why current situation with receiving variable pay is not ideal, and asks for this issue to be resolved with a salary increase instead.

    – Ends on a positive note but also with a clear request — “I appreciate the recent raise, but for all the reasons I mentioned, I’d like to get it closer to $Z.”

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Thank you for this reflection! These are really great points, and can serve as an excellent template for other people in this situation.

      I would love it if you could talk more about how to teach negotiation and what that is like. Ah, if only Alison could do an interview with you!

  16. Jellyfish Catcher*

    Know your boss.
    Is she a bottom line time and money person who wants a brief summary?
    Is he the type who dives deep into the wonky details and needs time to make a decision?
    Is he the social type, sometimes verbally roaming far from the initial issue, so needs a clear written summary, with some “soft” positive comments?
    Is she an introvert, so written summary, helps to decide which items are fine to accept and therefore cuts down talking about every darn item?

  17. Johnny*

    Well done! This is an example of how important it is to invest in learning how to communicate with management in a strategic and effective way.

  18. Houseplant*

    tbh as someone that doesn’t know anything about Battlestar Galactica this was kind of unintelligible. Not getting the references means it’s difficult to tell what info actually goes there. Just wanted to toss that out there.

    1. Bette Davis Eyes*

      As a person who consistently tired of the llama and teapot references, I found their absence to be refreshing.

      On the one hand, yes, the obfuscation can make this difficult to follow. Other the other hand, I think this was presented less as a template to be filled in and more as an example of the fact that you (yes, YOU!) can do this and you need to treat it as a normal part of employment.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      The only Gallactica stuff in there are people’s names and place names, and I think it’s pretty clear from context which is which? It’s not really inside baseball.

  19. ad astra*

    I don’t necessarily want to speculate, but as a physician there were a LOT of healthcare bells ringing from this letter—and if that *is* the LW’s field, it informs a lot about the length/content.

    Provider compensation can be extraordinarily complex—I was originally going to include our clinic’s set up as an example but decided not to because it was taking 3-4 sentences. If LW is in healthcare (or a field with similar enough compensation to make my spidey senses tingle), a simple “I think I deserve X raise for A, B, and C reasons” would get you absolutely nowhere.

  20. kctipton*

    There can never be too many BSG references in a request for a pay raise! I am impressed that you, Alison, reworked the email to be as it is.

  21. Throwaway account*

    I learned from these comments that 1. Y’all don’t know how to skim for main points. If the boss wanted to just read the “I want a raise, let’s meet” part, they could. And then review the details later and even make a note or two about the points important to them. 2. I’m never sharing any letters I write and I’m impressed anyone ever does! It is already super clear that with all such letters, YMMV.

  22. Introvert girl*

    The problem is that in most companies these days the retention budget is lower than the hiring budget. No matter how good you are or what the actual pay for your position is, you won’t get a raise of more than 2%. Switching jobs is the only way of earning more money. And this is really sad.

  23. Elle by the sea*

    Congratulations on the raise!
    Alison is right that the tone should be adjusted depending on your office. For example, I can’t imagine greeting my manager with “hey”. And as a manager I would find the email far too complicated and convoluted – I prefer a “to the point” style when requesting a raise. My successful raise request was only two sentences and could be perceived as too aggressive, but I succeeded too. Horses for courses, I suppose.

  24. Melissa C*

    First time commenting, but I just had to say how great these Battlestar Galactica references are. Well done!

Comments are closed.