I’m sure I’m not the only one who has worked several years for a company, got good annual reviews and a 1% pay increase, only to see a new hire for the exact same position starting at a salary $5,000 higher than you’re earning now.
You can focus on the non-monetary benefits of your job – the fulfillment and satisfaction of being recognized for a job well done. But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be compensated fairly, as well.
Your bosses want to pay you the least amount possible to keep you happy and productive in order to maintain the bottom line. If you don’t ask for a raise your employer may falsely assume that you’re perfectly happy with your small cost-of-living increases.
Earning more money might be as strategic as negotiating a raise on your current job.
1. Find out what you’re worth
You have to research and do your homework to make sure you can justify a jump in the pay scale before you go and ask for a raise.
Do you know what the average salary is for someone in your position? When you’ve been at one company for a while – and like your job – it’s easy to not think about how much you are earning compared to how much your coworkers in similar positions are making. But, it’s important to know how your salary ranks compared to industry averages – and to your colleagues’– to give you leverage in negotiating for a raise.
You can find out what the average salary is for someone in your position, experience, education and in your city by checking with www.payscale.com or www.glassdoor.ca. You can also get salary information at www.workopolis.com or www.monster.ca. Keep in mind that salaries vary city by city.
If you belong to a union check the pay scale and see what the criteria are for moving up to the next level to ensure that you’re making the maximum available for your position and are working efficiently toward the next pay grade.
2. Why do you deserve a raise?
Determine why you deserve a raise. Many employees make the mistake of asking for a raise because their bills are piling up and they can’t make ends meet on their current salary. This is not only unprofessional, it’s also embarrassing. Your needs for a raise are completely irrelevant to your employer. Don’t complain about how overworked and underpaid you are.
It’s how you are contributing to your company and whether you are already being fairly paid that matters.
3. What kind of employee are you?
This is when you have to think about the kind of employee you really are. Are you a go-getter, a company person, a hard worker who gets the job done; who finishes tasks, and takes pride in your work?
Or are you someone who comes in late, leaves early, and muddles along at your job, doing the bare minimum to get by? Are you the complainer, the person with a bad attitude, the person who can’t be trusted to get the job done?
Bosses, generally speaking, want employees who work hard unsupervised, whom they can trust to do not just a mediocre job but an excellent job. You should strive to be an ideal employee if you want to get a raise.
4. Who should you talk to?
You might think it makes sense to go straight to your supervisor but they likely don’t control the budget. Who does your boss have to make the case to?
5. Pick the right time
Ask for a face-to-face meeting. Don’t try to schedule a time that’s not convenient – when a big project is due, the busy season, the big boss is coming, or Friday afternoon.
If you have a review coming up, you can wait until then, but if not, simply ask your boss for a review meeting to discuss a work-related matter. Don’t say, “I want to talk to you about a raise.” No one will be clearing their calendar too quickly for that conversation.
6. Come prepared
Why are you valuable? You’ve been patted on the back and told you were great in the past, but have you kept a running list of your own accomplishments? How have you contributed to the company to deserve the extra pay? Can you cite specific examples of ways in which you went beyond the requirements for your position?
Keep all positive feedback, notes of appreciation, thank you cards, and the like together. Your goal is to become crystal clear about what qualities you bring to the table. Don’t be embarrassed to toot your own horn when and where it’s appropriate.
Be specific. It’s not enough to say, “I do more work than so-and-so.”
Look at your workload and determine if your job function has changed. You may be described as an assistant manager when in fact you are doing manager-level work. Maybe your duties have changed, but your job title has not. This can be a strategy to show your boss that you are deserving of a raise.
You need to convince your boss that your contributions are valuable and deserve to be better compensated, not that you simply want more money. Don’t present ultimatums – they may backfire on you.
7. What are you offering?
The most positive way to approach a request for a raise is to ask for more responsibility. You can link this to a pay increase, if not immediately, then in the future. This is an approach that employers respond to better than simply asking for more pay for doing the exact same job.
8. Be realistic
If you are in a job that has fixed pay scales (e.g. if you are part of a union there will be a salary range for your job), find out how you can move to the next level. What experience is required to be promoted?
Companies have salary scales. Depending on the company you work for, there may be limits as to what they will pay even though a similar company may pay more.
Make sure your company is doing well financially. If it just announced major quarterly losses, there’s probably no money available for raises.
9. Decide what you want
Know exactly what you want or what you would be willing to accept. Are you looking for a certain percentage increase or a specific amount Remember to ask for a little more than you’d accept. This is a negotiation after all. But, don’t ask for too much – be reasonable.
Would you be happy with extra vacation time or other benefit, a one time bonus, or higher commission instead?
10. Follow up
If your boss want to review your case and delays a decision, suggest a time frame for another meeting.
Have the courage to ask for a raise, be well prepared and list your accomplishments. Approach the process positively and constructively, and remember that it is a discussion, not a demand.
If you are truly deserving of a raise, it’s in your current company’s best interest to keep you happy by granting you a pay hike. If they don’t, you could go elsewhere for another job with better pay and benefits.
If you ask for a raise and don’t get it, but decide to stay with the company, you have still let your employer know where you stand. Good employers will keep you in mind when preparing future budgets. No company wants to lose their most talented employee.