Jan 30th, 2008
In an ideal world we would all be paid what we think we are worth and no one would ever have to ask for a raise. Then again in an ideal world I would be in cabo drinking a life size margarita right now. Unfortunately it’s not a perfect world, I am not in cabo, and gas is still 3 something a gallon. Anyway so you’re underpaid and unhappy. You haven’t had any automatic increases you say? Well it is time to take matters into your own hands, so here we go.
Before asking for a raise you should be doing some prep work. First of all you should be asking yourself a few questions. Remember the real goal is to align your paycheck with your value to the company.
“Am I making a contribution toward my employers goals above and beyond what is expected or SHOULD be expected from someone in your positions?”
This doesn’t mean you are working 14 hours a day. It means that either your employer is demanding more of you than average or you are doing work above average.
“Have I been given a reasonable raise lately?”
If yes, maybe its time to wait a while, if no, then you are a go.
“Am I completely prepared for everything the boss might throw at me?”
Before you go in its good to understand that when you do go in there are three different things that could happen. One, you get a raise. Two, you do not get a raise. Three, you work out a deal where the boss evaluates your performance in a certain time frame and agree to meet back in the future. Ive read some sites on careers that say be careful, you could get fired. Quite frankly, I have never heard of anyone getting fired merely for politely asking for a compensation review.
Ok, so you are sure you are going to do it.
Steps to prepare:
1) Gather up all of the data that you need to present yourself in the most positive light possible.
2) If your company has peer reviews, collect peer reviews.
3) If your company has a development plan then make sure yours is filled out.
4) Gather data about all the things you have accomplished. This is important to have on hand.
5) Decide exactly what you think is a fair raise for your current situation.
6) Research the market for pay rates for your job. Salary.com is a great place to check out what other people withs imilar experience and jobs are being paid in your area.
7) Read your employee handbook. See if there is anything in it about development and pay increases. Its good to know when you actually go in.
8] Try and network with other people at other companies to get a feel for what people are making. Once again, its good to know. On a side note, apparently 8 followed by ) makes a smiley face. 8)
9) Make a list of your current responsibilities in your job. This is something it is good to compare to what you were originally hired on to do. There are cases where people started out doing an administrative or basic type job and have moved into doing jobs that include much more responsibility but are still getting paid based on the original salary curve!
10) Read up on negotiation tips.
Ok, now you have all the things you need. Next up on the agenda is to schedule a meeting with your boss. Its good to have specific time set aside so that you get your fair share of time. You don’t want to get into a situation where you just drop in on your boss and try and squeeze it in.
Meeting with the boss:
1) Be direct. Say something like “I scheduled this meeting today because I want to discuss my performance and compensation with you.” Raise is a harsh word for managers to hear so don’t say it.
2) Review your contributions and responsibilities. Be as specific as possible and show how your contributions have really benefitted the company. They aren’t going to want to give you more money for no reason.
3) Stress your loyalty to the company. They want to know if they give you more money you are going to show them loyalty.
4) If you are pressed on it, show data comparing your salary to that of other people in similar situations. The truth is most employers follow things such as salary.com as well.
5) Remember chances are you will not get an answer right away. Remember to be respectful and thank him for his time. You want your boss to be your ally, not an enemy.
What not to do:
1) Drop in on your boss without scheduling a meeting. You really dont want to get cut off halfway through your pitch
2) Make it personal. You want to stress value to the company but you dont want to try and guilt trip your boss.
3) Being general. “Ive been working hard and doing well and would like a pay increase.” Thats sort of like saying “um so, like, give me money, mmmk?”
4) Stressing NEED instead of value. You do not want to tell your boss “I can’t make house/car/child support/crack dealer/whatever payment unless I get a raise”
5) Threaten to quit (unless you really do have another job lined up). Chances are this will backfire and then instead of rolling in a money pile you will be hanging out at the local commune.
6) Throw a fit for any reason. Remember calm is power.
7) Ask for a raise at an inappropriate time. If the company is cutting back and things aren’t going well, DON’T ASK FOR A RAISE.
Now lets examine the three possibilities and figure out what to do next:
1) You get the raise -Thank your boss. Be happy. Buy a puppy. Then throw a party and have a beer. Buy your friends a beer. Buy me a beer. Take your significant other out to celebrate. Do whatever you want, be happy. OH and keep working hard.
2) You are told straight out no
-Ask your boss why and what you can do in the future to deserve further compensation. Inquire if there are other ways, sometimes you can negotiate a bonus or more time off or something along those lines. If not and you are unhappy, it may be time to start looking for another job.
3) Not right now
-Ask what needs to happen for it to happen. Ask what you can do and if there can be progress tracked. Set tangible goals to figure out further action. Remember that there is a difference between an employee who is doing a job as expected from a good performer and and employee who is really giving superior performance. They will most likely be looking for the second to give raises to.
When it is all said and done, regardless of what happens you will be glad you did because there is nothing worse than working thinking you are not being treated fairly and having no direction. This way you will at least understand where you stand in the companies eyes which will allow you to re-evaluate your situation. I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to take responsibility for your career, no one else will do it for you.
Good luck. And if you get a raise because of this article, my favorite kind of beer is Belgian Ales. Abbey Grand Cru if we are gonna get specific.