Getting a Raise

How to ask for and get the raise you deserve.

If you’ve been working successfully at your job at the same salary for a while, it may be time to ask for a raise. Although the news is full of reports about the recession and unemployment, don’t make the assumption that you can’t ask for and receive an increase in salary. Many industries are still experiencing growth. Others are spreading the workload over fewer employees—and sometimes it can be more cost-effective to provide a raise to existing employees than it is to add new employees and salaries.

If you love your job, but want to earn more money, it’s time to get brave and ask for a raise. There is no standard procedure for asking for a raise, but there are some guidelines that will set you on the road to success.

Do Your Homework

Asking for a raise is not as simple as marching into your boss’s office and demanding more money. First, you need to do some homework.

  • Company Policy: Familiarize yourself with your company’s policy about salary increases. Some companies only offer salary increases once a year after a performance review. Others offer standard pay raises to every employee annually, such as three percent across the board. Still others offer more frequent raises—but only if you ask. Knowing how your company operates will help you determine how to approach your request.
  • Market Rate: Research the market rate for your position. An online tool such as Salary Wizard can be helpful, but don’t limit your research to these general calculators. Do some networking to determine the going rate for your job.

Prepare Your Case

As with anything, you’re more likely to be successful if you enter your salary negotiations prepared. If you think you deserve a raise, be ready to provide documentation of your success and growth in your position. Compile a list of the following:

  • Achievements: Note any goals or milestones you have achieved in your position. Perhaps you landed a big new client or developed a way to implement new cost-savings procedures. Or maybe you’ve improved productivity or created a new product. Document these achievements to highlight your worth.
  • Additional Responsibilities: Taking on extra responsibilities will often entitle you to a higher salary. Did you step up and take on a special project? Are you supervising more employees? Have you had to take on extra work as the result of a tightened workforce? Document how you have grown in your position and how you feel that entitles you to a higher salary.
  • Continuing Education: Continuing education and professional development will often increase your value. Learning new skills can improve your performance and value at work. If you have earned any new certification programs or degrees, you may be entitled to a pay raise.

Negotiate

Once you’ve done your homework, you’re ready to approach your boss and ask for that coveted raise. Follow these simple steps:

  • Request a Meeting: Make an appointment to speak with your boss about your salary. Don’t be cryptic; instead, be honest about your intentions for the meeting. No one likes to be ambushed. Plus, this will allow your boss to be prepared to discuss salary rather than putting you off to do his/her homework after the meeting.
  • Make a Specific Request: You’ve done your homework. You know the market rate for your salary. You know your accomplishments with the company. Ask for a specific salary—you have the documentation to support it.
  • Stay Focused: Keep your salary negotiations focused on you and your position and success with the company. Never compare your salary with that of co-workers and never try to use an offer from another company to leverage a raise with your current one. That approach usually backfires. Instead, keep it civil, calm, and focused on what you are contributing.
  • Be Willing to Negotiate: If your boss agrees that you are worthy of a raise, but says there is no room in the budget for more money, get creative. Perhaps you can negotiate other perks that represent the equivalent of a raise. Consider the following:

o   More vacation time
o   Extended insurance benefits for your family
o   Company stock
o   Use of a company vehicle
o   Flex-time
o   Bonuses

If you’ve prepared a good case for yourself, hopefully you and your boss can reach an agreement for some sort of increased compensation. If salary negotiations don’t go your way, stay calm and thank your boss for his/her time. Don’t storm out of the office or threaten to quit. Give yourself some time and space to think about your next move. You’ve already compiled your list of successes and qualifications—perhaps that is the first step in beginning to search for a new job with a higher salary. Best of luck!