02 November 2012
Asking for a Raise? How to Increase Your Odds of Getting One

Are you in this situation?  You’ve been on the job for a while, you’ve learned how the business works, thus increasing your productivity, and, all-in-all, you think you’re doing a pretty good job.  But you’ve plateaued.  So is it time for a raise?

It may well be. Your employer may not recognize the scope of your contributions to company success. Your supervisor may have other things on his or her mind. But here are some things to consider before taking the plunge:

Be prepared to ask for a raise.

Your chances of seeing a paycheck boost are low when you spontaneously ask your employer or manager for a raise. The executive may be caught off guard, and you may not have your position on a raise fully thought-out – with good arguments for a pay increase.  Never ask for a raise on the spur of the moment.

  • Gather information on your job performance since you were hired. Create a list of achievements and accomplishments – the positive impact you’ve had in your areas of responsibility.
  • Add to your list: Perfect attendance. Represented business at industry conference. Improved employee morale. Don’t be shy. Tell it like it is. You’re after a pay raise – one that you deserve.
  • Be prepared to explain why you’re worthy of a pay raise by detailing improvements made and objectives reached.
  • Consider whether you actually deserve a raise. If you have trouble listing solid accomplishments that have helped the company’s bottom line, it might be best to wait until you have some.  Look for ways to improve your value to the company: volunteer for assignments, take continuing education classes, etc.
  • Keep expectations realistic. A pay raise is often a goodwill gesture on the part of the employer in recognition of excellent performance. You might not get everything you ask for, but you may get deserved recognition and a little something extra in the pay envelope.
  • Assess the company’s position. If layoffs are in place and the buzz around the water cooler points to tough times ahead, it’s probably not a good time to ask for a raise – even if a raise is long overdue. Your chances of getting a pay boost increase when the company is growing.
  • Practice your raise pitch. Write out your achievements, skills, and contributions and memorize them.  Organize your presentation for maximum effect.

During Negotiations

Make an appointment with your director, the company owner, the HR Director – the person who decides how much you get paid. Make sure you’re talking to the decision maker – the right person to hear your “case.”  Making an appointment should help eliminate distractions and ensure you have the attention of your supervisor. You also have the privacy needed to discuss sensitive information about salary.

Introduce the subject of a raise to avoid the surprise factor. Then launch your presentation. Notes are fine. It shows you’ve thought this out and it keeps you on track. No rambling. Get to the point, present the facts and wait for a reaction.

Don’t back yourself in a corner by demanding a raise. Provide evidence that you deserve a raise, but never back yourself into a corner. Threats of “a raise or I quit” may have unexpected (and unwanted) consequences.

Be prepared to take less than you anticipate. Most of us think we’re worth more as employees than we are. A small raise is better than no raise and it may put you on the fast track for a larger raise at some point in the future.

Be willing to accept benefits other than a pay raise. A better parking spot. Three weeks vacation. More sick days. A bigger office (with a window). There are a lot of ways employers can show appreciation without delivering a pay raise. Again, these benefits indicate that you have value to the employer who wants to keep you in place.

Always remain calm. These are negotiations, not debates. And the last thing you want to do is annoy your supervisor – a sure means of losing out on a pay raise. Discuss. Listen. Assess. Leave.

Never compare your salary to another employee’s salary. First, you shouldn’t even know what fellow employees earn, and many companies prohibit discussions of salary. Further, you may be comparing apples and oranges. Never discuss another employee’s salary.

Know when to stop. If you get push-back from a supervisor, there’s a reason. Maybe money is tight, but you don’t know it. If the listener explains why a raise isn’t feasible, bring up additional benefits. If that discussion goes nowhere, thank the supervisor for his or her time and get back to work.

If you don’t get a raise, or additional benefits, or any type of recognition for a job well done, you have the option of conducting a job search for a better position that pays a higher wage.  Find the new job, give proper notice and leave on good terms.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.


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