Even with the improving job market, asking for a raise can be a scary event. Many companies don’t want to give them at all, and it always seems as if there is a long line of candidates willing to work for even less money than you’re being paid. Despite those concerns, there are times when you need to ask for a raise. After all, if you don’t, then it may never happen. And the days of automatic annual increases is largely gone.
How To Ask For A Pay Raise
If you are going to ask for a raise, try the following…
Know what you’re worth before you even ask
Before you even ask for a raise, you first need to know where you stand on the compensation ladder. You can easily do this by checking out the pay range for your job based on information available at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. It not only lists pay ranges for your job, but also takes geographic location into account.
If you find that you are at the top of your pay scale – or even above it – tread lightly. Unless you are extremely valuable to your employer, you may find that bringing up the salary issue works against you. Your employer is probably aware of where you stand in the pay range for your job. If they have no intention of increasing your pay, they may take advantage of the opportunity to gently remind you of your over-paid status – ouch!
Be aware of industry trends
Beyond compensation ranges, never ignore trends within your industry. If your industry is growing, and jobs are plentiful, there will be a lot more negotiating room with a pay increase.
If the industry is growing slowly, or not at all, your ability to get a raise will be directly related to your specific contributions to the company. It should go without saying that if your industry is in decline, and jobs are disappearing, it may not even be worth asking for a raise.
The state of your industry, or of your particular job classification, is probably the best indication of your ability to get a raise.
Put together a thick file
Unless you are a recognized superstar in your company, you have to be your own best cheerleader when it comes to asking for a raise. That doesn’t mean you go running around the place taking every opportunity to chant yeah, rah, me!, but you will need to build a case for why you deserve a raise.
Put together a file that represents a collection of your best accomplishments on the job. This can include letters or emails of commendation, proposals that you made that were put into action, positive previous job reviews, and any records that document your production or increase in productivity.
You don’t need to bring this into your boss or human resources manager when you ask for a raise, but you should have it available for at least three reasons:
To prepare you to blow your own horn. Before asking for a raise, you should spend some time rehearsing the reasons why you deserve one. This will be much easier to do if you have assembled tangible evidence that answers the question. By having all of the information available in one place, it will be much easier to convince yourself that you deserve a raise – and that will make it easier to convince your boss.
To be ready to document your accomplishments to your company. It’s always a good idea you have documents to prove your worth to your employer in the event that you meet with any resistance in your request for a raise. While your boss and your company probably know somewhere – usually in the back of their minds – what you have done for them, it always helps to have a thick file to show them just in case their minds go fuzzy when you’re ask for a raise.
To be certain that you have accomplishments. That sounds a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a valid consideration. If you can’t document your accomplishments, your boss probably can’t either. And if you can’t, asking for a raise may be a waste time. But it is better to know this before going to your boss. If nothing else, this should serve as a wake-up call for you to begin increasing your productivity, so that you will have some ammunition to ask for a raise in the future.
Approach it as a business discussion, not a request for more money
This is an exercise that is not as easy as it sounds on the surface. Whenever we ask for something for ourselves, there is more than a little bit of emotion attached to it. Since salary is an objective measure of our worth, the potential of being rejected for an increase is hard not to take personally.
But that is exactly what you need to do.
When you approach your superiors about a raise, you have to handle it like a business negotiation – which is exactly what it is. This is also a major reason why you should prepare a thick file packed with documents that prove your worth. If you can prove why you deserve a raise with objective evidence, you can present this evidence as you would any other business proposal.
If your employer rejects your request – despite the evidence – then you’ll know where you stand. At that point, your focus may shift from getting a raise at your present employer, to finding a job with a new one.
Have you used any of the above strategies in asking for a raise?
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