How to Ask for What You Want at Work

How to Ask for What you Want at Work - Style Nine to Five

One of the most important deciding factors of success is ones ability and willingness to advocate for themselves. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you work, how many great ideas you bring to the team meetings, or how much you increase the company’s bottom line – if you arent willing to ask for more, you may never move forward. This isnt always the easiest thing to do and can seem intimidating at first, but we have some tips to help you decide when and how to ask for what you want at work with confidence and success.

Decide When to Ask

Asking for what you want has a lot of strategy involved. Timing can be a key factor to getting what you want vs. getting shut down. If possible, make this part of your initial negotiation. The conversation can include salary, vacation time, role and responsibilities. But thats not where it ends. Your contract is yours to design, so consider what else you can ask for. You could write in a yearly merit increase, or increases in vacation time based on how long you stay with the company for example.

Another great time is during your performance review. A yearly performance review is an opportunity to steer the conversation towards what comes next and use it to your advantage. If your employer isnt ready to offer you more at this time, take this as a chance to discuss what you can do to improve for next time.

For example, if youre looking for more responsibility, during your performance review, identify your areas of improvement with your employer and outline your next steps and SMART goals. You can use this to negotiate how you will be compensated for those achievements.

These are not the only times you can ask, you can also ask at the end of a fiscal year, or when youve been asked to take on a large responsibility and are looking for more compensation.

Know Your Worth

Before you make any asks, do some research to see if what you’re asking for matches with your experience and skill set. Look into average salary for your years of experience, title and location, find out what is standard for vacation time, or look into what career progression looks like for your industry.

For example, if you have been in a Marketing Coordinator role at a company for a couple of years and the team has now grown to a point where you oversee the work of a Social Media Manager and Graphic Designer, you can leverage those new responsibilities into a salary bump and new title! Now that you are managing the work of others and have a few years of experience under your belt, consider asking your employer for a Marketing Manager title and compensation. Research the salary for a Marketing Manager and what other responsibilities go along with that and propose this career advancement to your boss.


Through your research you should feel confident in what you plan to ask for and how that matches up with your skills, experience and what you offer to the company. When you come to your boss with an ask, make sure you are backing that up with achievements that can be measurable and, or verified. This includes any extra roles youve taken on i.e.. having new employees reporting to you, any improvements you have made to the company i.e.. increases to the bottom line, new social media following, improved e-commerce sales, etc. 

Keep track of your own achievements, as well any praise that may come your way and use this to back up your ask. Prove to them you are worth what youre asking for – this will also give you a boost of confidence to make the ask!

If the idea of asking for more seems intimidating, prepare yourself with research notes and even role play. Ask a friend, significant other, or therapist if they will help role play with you. Being able to go over the hypothetical conversation a few times can make you feel well versed and make the real experience less daunting.

Once you start advocating for yourself and finding the confidence to ask for what you deserve, you will find how empowering it is and it will come more naturally. Plus the benefits are so worth it. Even if you arent successful, you will at the very least create the opportunity to have a conversation about how you can improve and what you need to do to get what you want. Remember, you are the creator of your own destiny. As Style Nine to Five Founder Christie Lohr says, The only thing stopping you, is YOU – so DREAM BIG!”

Looking for someone to role play with? Book a Career Meeting with Christie. Shell also provide helpful advice and guidance for your career progression!

Sheila ONeill is a creative, innovative and inspiring storyteller with a background in fashion.

Feature Image: Adobe Stock