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How to Ask For A Raise (Because You Need One, For Real)

> Life, Making Money, Work > 07-02-2014


It’s no secret that the financial situation for the 35 and under crowd isn’t exactly rainbows and puppies. The average college student graduates 27K in debt, the average income for adults aged 25-34 has fallen 8% since 2007, and the unemployment rate is sky high… yeah, thanks Great Recession. So it’s understandable that you want a raise (and you probably even need a raise), but the real question is – do you deserve a raise?

If you think you do, then before you go in guns-blazing demanding a 30% raise or “I’m outta here!” Read this helpful guide to the do’s and don’ts of asking for a raise to increase your likelihood of success. And good luck!

First – here’s what NOT to do

• Don’t give ultimatums – first of all they will put your boss immediately into defensive mode instead of responsive mode. Not good. Also if you say, “Give me a raise or I quit,” and you don’t get the raise … you may suddenly find yourself not only out of a raise, but out of a job.

• Don’t base your request on your inability to meet your financial needs.
Your company doesn’t base your salary on whether or not you can make your student loan payments or if you want to move out of your parent’s house. They base your income on your worth to the company, the type, quality and quantity of work you do among other things (corporate budgets, internal pay scales, etc.) The point is – if you try to justify your raise by saying you need more money (even though you do) it will likely be ineffective.

• Don’t ask for a raise if you’ve only been at a company a few months. We know, you’re the best darn employee that has ever graced your company’s cubes and they are darn lucky to have you. But calm down. Not only do you need to give your boss more time to get to know you before you ask for more money, you need to give yourself more time to get to know your company. How do their internal procedures work? How often do people get raises? What promotion opportunities are there? What seems to be the qualities valued most in employees? Be strategic. Know your enemy. (Just kidding, of course! Your company isn’t your enemy … but they don’t want to pay you any more money if they don’t have to and you definitely need to earn it.) Seriously though, be strategic.

Now for the Do’s

• Do a self-evaluation. Your goal is to convince your company that you are such an exceptional employee (or perhaps you have recently increased responsibilities), and you bring so much value to your position and to the company, that you are worth more money. So prove it. Make a list of your contributions and your skills. Look at your job duties and performance from the company’s perspective – did you save them $2,000 by taking on a formerly outsourced responsibility and bringing it in house? Make sure to include it. The goal is to make a list all of your tangible contributions to the company, your accomplishments, and if possible, include a dollar amount attached to your contributions. Include your formal job description, and consider making out your own “actual” job description if you have taken on several new responsibilities that were not originally part of the position when you took the job.

• Determine the going rate for your job. It doesn’t matter if you think you deserve $25.00 an hour for your work as an executive assistant – if all the other executive assistants in the company – or even in your regional demographic are making $15.00 an hour, you probably aren’t going to get the pay raise you want. So do your research and determine the going rate for your position – if there are other people in the company who have the same or similar job titles, ask your HR Department if there are company salary ranges for your position and a few above yours. If that isn’t an option, you can get an idea of what typical pay for your position is nationally at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ web site http://www.bls.gov/ . Salary and pay does vary quite a bit regionally, so also make sure to check out careerbuilder.com or other job posting sites to get an idea of what other employers are offering someone for your similar position.

• Know your company and be strategic. This is part of the strategic planning we already talked about – and it’s still important. Find out important things about your company that might increase your chances of getting a raise like: What is the policy on pay raises? Is there a formal review system in place? Is there a budget for department salaries that each department has to stay within? What is the company’s financial condition? The more you understand about your company and how pay increases work, the better you can think through your perfect strategy to get that raise you deserve.

• Do NOT give up! If you follow all of this advice and you ask for a raise and you don’t get one – don’t give up! Ask your boss what you can do to position yourself better for a raise the next time. Perhaps you can set a formal timeline for a second evaluation in six months? If nothing else, make sure you understand exactly why you weren’t able to receive the raise, and what the future opportunity for pay increases may or may not be. The more realistic expectations of future pay increases you have, the overall happier you will be in your position.


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