Tips About Asking For A Raise!

Published: Jan 29, 2007


By Cynthia M Piccolo

A January 2, 2007 report by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives delivered the shocking and appalling calculation that by 9:46am on January 2, the average CEO reaches the Canadian average earnings for the year. Due to the closeness of the two economies, I imagine that American CEOs and workers would be in a similar boat. While you may not in your wildest dreams imagine having such an overblown income, do you feel it's time for a raise?

Some employees are unionized, and in such cases, salaries adhere strictly to salary grids based on experience and training. As a result, there's nothing to ask for: Time will bring you more money, and undergoing further training to boost yourself higher on the grid will bring you more money.

But those who aren't unionized usually have to ask for a raise, as it's the rare boss that insists that employees accept more money. For those who have to ask, here are some tips:

  • Don't approach your boss until you have evaluated your worth and have facts to back up your dollar request. So consider: Do you go the extra mile, or are you just putting in a minimal effort to get by? If you're just doin' time, don't bother asking. Have examples of your good work ready – extra responsibilities taken on, projects completed, costs cut, strong evaluations, etc. – and be prepared to list them. Also find out information about typical salaries in your specialty, in your location, for someone with your education and years of experience. Some places to check include salary.com, payscale.com, job postings, professional organizations, coworkers with loose lips (or who are willing to disclose), and headhunters. Where you rank will give some indication about whether you have any leverage in your request.

  • Be realistic. What is your employer's financial status? If they're having financial problems, you probably won't be seeing any extra money.

  • Based on the above points, develop a realistic idea of what sort of a raise you'd like. Be flexible, and be prepared to negotiate – request a slightly higher percentage or amount than you hope to get (but not so much that you look out of line), and be prepared to go lower. Also, consider if there are other things you'd take instead of money, e.g. an extra week of vacation.

  • Timing is very important. Don't spring your request on your boss when s/he is leaving for the day, or is swamped, or is angry because Junior just failed his math test. Ask in advance for a good time to talk.
  • Some employers have policies about the process for requesting a raise. Check your policy manual and if your employer has a policy, follow it exactly.

  • Be calm, firm, and confident, rather than nervous, demanding, and arrogant. Don't bring in personal circumstances. It's all about work. Avoid giving an ultimatum, because either you will have to follow through, or you will look wishy-washy. Also remember that threats will poison the atmosphere and may result in burned bridges.

  • Have a plan in place if your boss says no. Are you going to stay or are you going to start looking for a new job or a transfer.

    While asking for a raise is usually a nerve-wracking experience, really, there are only three things that could happen:

    1) you get a raise;
    2 ) you don't get a raise, and can ask again another day;
    3) or, worst case scenario, if you were unable to provide valid reasons about why you deserve a raise, your boss may decide that you're not worth what they're paying you now, and you lose your

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