Monday, June 15, 2015

6 Tips to Help You Get a Pay Raise

It's time to ask for a pay raise.

You know it, and I know it.

You've been busting your butt for years now, telling yourself that the piddly 2% annual raise you've gotten for the last five years is OK. You're lucky to have a job, you tell yourself. You have benefits, you argue. Your boss tells you that he knows you work hard, and didn't he just give you a gift certificate for $20 to the car wash around the corner?

That's enough for now, you contend.

No, it's not. As long as you sit quietly and accept whatever an employer gives you, then you are not going to ensure that your income grows with your skills and experience. You're not going to be able to save for retirement, send your kids to college or keep up with inflation.

As I said, it's time to ask for a pay raise.

You might be nervous about this -- especially if you're a woman. But if you don't ask for one, then you'll never get one. At the very least, you'll put your boss on notice that you believe you deserve a raise, and want one. That should get him or her pondering whether you're unhappy enough with your pay to leave. As the job market heats up, that may spur your boss into giving you a bigger annual raise just to avoid losing you, which can be costly.

In addition, he or she may decide to not only give you a pay raise at your performance review, but may also bump you up before then.

Still think you should sit quietly and take whatever the boss gives you?

No?  Then here's how you go about asking for a pay raise and boosting the chances you'll get it:

  • Do your homework. Consult sites such as Glassdoor or to learn how much others in your industry and position earn, as well as those in your geographic area. You can't ask for something that's way above the industry norm and be taken seriously. You want the boss to know that you've done your homework and are aware of what competitors are paying.
  • Know what you contribute. Take the time to think about how you've helped the company's bottom line, enabled your boss to shine or helped solve a problem. Think about times you've really excelled and been noted for it. If you've received written praise from customers or leaders, that can be brought up in your discussions.
  • Strike while the iron is hot. If you've just received an award, been personally praised by a senior leader or garnered an industry award, then that's a good time to ask for a pay raise. You've just clearly shown that you're above average, and deserve above-average pay.
  • Stay professional. Never ask for a raise "because I need a new car" or "I really want to go to Paris." Any pay discussions should not center on your personal needs, but rather why you believe you deserve more money based on your performance.
  • Time it right. Of course, it's not a good time to ask for a pay raise when layoffs have just been announced or you just screwed up a major contract. Use your common sense -- you want to make a move when the boss is in a good mood, not fuming over an a**-chewing from his boss.
  • Schedule a meeting. Bosses don't like things being sprung on them, especially when those things involve money. So, set up a time to talk to your boss, practice your pitch and approach it with confidence. You're not a serf asking the king for a favor -- you're a qualified, valued worker who is requesting that a pay raise be considered. 
Don't fret if you don't get the raise. The key is that you're standing up for what you deserve and your boss knows it. Simply thank him for his time, ask what you need to do to garner a bigger raise next time and then look for opportunities to do just that. If no pay raise is possible, it may be time that you start looking around in that improving job market.

What tips do you have for getting a pay raise?

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