6 ‘Shark Tank' tips on asking for a raise

Posted at 8:38 AM, Jan 21, 2014

When ABC News caught up with Rebekah Leavey, a market researcher from Cincinnati, she was about to do something terrifying -- ask her boss for a raise.

Leavey admitted that she was “a little nervous” about asking, but she thought she could be earning more money.

The problem was, she didn’t know how to ask for it, and didn’t know what her boss actually thought of her.

“We’ve never been through any real sort of performance review, so I’m not sure exactly how he perceives my performance thus far,” Leavey said.

Leavey is not alone. The number one question “World News” heard from American families in the brand new World News Real Money poll was how to ask for a raise. Seventy-one percent of those polled thought they could be earning more money, but didn’t know how to ask for it. More people were concerned with a raise more than taxes or health care costs.

In fact, only about 41 percent of Americans ever even ask for a raise, even though 84 percent of bosses expect workers to ask them for one, according to

Leavey had been rewarded for her work before, but it didn’t come with a raise.

“They gave me a title, right, a better title you could say than what I had before, and then I asked, so does this come with a raise? What is the entire deal with this, and they were like, no, it’s just a title. So that was a little disappointing,” said Leavey.

Because of that experience, Leavey was even more apprehensive about asking for the raise.

So ABC News brought in a negotiating dream team, the cutthroat sharks on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and career expert Nicole Williams, from the job networking website,

Tip #1: Know what you’re worth

“It’s one of those taboo things that you don’t tell people what you make,” Leavey told ABC News. “I have ideas of what people make, you hear the rumors, but I don’t know for sure.”

Websites like and help people get a better idea of what salaries they could be making. After typing in a job and zip code, the average salary range for that job in the area appears.

Tip #2: Know the exact raise you want

Nicole Williams said a typical raise is a 5 to 10 percent increase per year.

When Williams asked Leavy how much she wanted, Leavey said, “I’m a little embarrassed to say that.”

Williams’ advice is, “We respect people who know what they’re worth. We respect people who ask for what they’re worth.”

Tip #3: Know why you believe you deserve a raise

Williams asked Leavey to explain why she deserved a raise.

“You’ve seen all the great work that I’ve done over this year, and it seems like I’ve performed rather well. Based on the work that you’ve seen and the work that I’ve contributed, how do I phrase this, I think that I would be deserving of a raise this year,” Leavey said.

Williams suggested that instead of saying, “I deserve a raise,” say “I’ve earned a raise.”

“It’s not even a question, it’s a statement. It’s like, I’d like to be compensated for the work that I’ve done. I’ve earned this raise is really what you’re putting out there,” said Williams.

Robert Herjavec from ABC’s “Shark Tank” said, “You should never come out and say I deserve more money. Nobody cares what you deserve. It’s about what you can do for the company. It’s never I, I, I it’s always what value you can add. Don’t use the word I.”

Tip # 4: Sell yourself with specifics

Barbara Corcoran, television personality from ABC’s “Shark Tank,” said, “You’ve got to remember that asking for a raise is a sales job. It’s not about if you deserve the raise, really. It’s how well-prepared you are, how you list your responsibilities. You should even have a category called ‘above and beyond’ on responsibilities and make sure the boss knows every little thing you’re doing above and beyond. You know what, you’ve got to sell! It’s about selling.”

Tip #5: Never threaten to leave the company

Says Shark’s Daymand John: “Do not give ultimatums and say you’re about to leave because even if you get the raise the boss is already thinking about replacing you because they never know if you’re going to stay,” John said.

“You gotta know what your boss needs. What’s his goal? Does he need to increase sales? Do he need to lower costs? And how do you fit part of that solution?” added Shark’s Herjavec. “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem. And people that fix problems get paid more.”

Shark Kevin O’Leary added that loyalty to the company is worth money to a boss.

“This is a big thing for me. Can I trust you? Are you loyal? Do you share my goals? If you do, I’m writing a check,” said O’Leary.

Tip #6: Practice asking

“Practice, practice and then practice again,” advised Williams. “This ask is as much verbal as it is nonverbal so there are going to be things that you’re doing in the ask because you’re uncomfortable that are going to be triggers to let your boss know that you are uncomfortable and not confident and that’s gonna work against you.”

Leavey tried to take everyone’s advice and went ahead to ask her boss for the raise.

“It went really well! I’m glad I had the conversation,” said Leavey afterwards. “My manager did say that if I continue my performance through the end of the year, that I will receive a raise at the end of the year!”