Be Careful When Asking For A Raise

by Ron Haynes

Asking for a raise can be risky in a struggling economy. If your boss thinks you’re more than just moderately dissatisfied, he or she may begin seeking ways to replace you. Your salary boost may eat up the department’s budget or your raise may cause your boss to have to beg for more money from the higher ups (and no one likes doing that). Additionally, a higher paycheck for you by default may mean higher expectations from your boss’s area of responsibility. Nope, asking for a raise to make more money isn’t as easy as it sounds.

But don’t lose heart, you CAN get a raise.
If you’re going to ask for a raise, you’ll need to make your case and you’ll need to have plenty of proof that you deserve one.

When you work up the courage to set up your meeting to ask for your raise,
1. Know your personal true-market value. You are a bundle of education, experience, accomplishments, and potential and you’ll need to know what YOU are worth. You can reach some conclusions by asking around but be careful about asking people in your company about salary ranges (but feel free to ask outside of your company). Ask vendors, recruiters, and headhunters specializing in your field. Check with online salary surveys by your professional association or on websites such as Payscale, Salary.com, and Salary Expert. Don’t go into this meeting with a “gut feeling” of what you’re worth.
2. Assemble proof of your contributions. Show the sales dollars or profits that you have generated for the company. Bosses love proof. It helps them justify their decisions to their bosses.
3. List any other benefits you have contributed. Always focus on your boss’s priorities. What “gets his motor running?” Is she a credit hog? Does he constantly seek ways to ease his workload? Does she enjoy making you feel appreciated? Don’t be afraid to bring up how you “crank his tractor.”
4. Could you change job descriptions? Sometimes a different job description and it’s different responsibilities can help you add more value to the company so offer to change job descriptions if necessary.
5. Be careful you don’t use veiled threats. One additional but risky move is to subtly demonstrate interest from another employer. You’ll have to be really careful that you don’t over estimate your importance to your current company but you might consider putting out feelers. You might be able to make your boss think, “If I don’t give her a raise, I may lose her.”

Preparation is the key factor when successfully negotiating a raise.


Next, formulate your strategy:

  • You know your boss, should you present your case in writing? In person? Send it to her in advance?
  • Should you meet on his turf? Yours? A neutral site like a restaurant or coffee shop? Neutral sites are great for getting information from co-workers, but your boss’s office will give him or her a sense of control.
  • Usually the first person to mention a number loses but if your boss is likely to low ball you or if she might respond well to your high offer, you go first. :D
  • Some bosses like to have options so present two or three compensation plans and give your boss a choice. The largest raise I ever got came from this tactic.
  • Not every raise comes to you in base compensation. Negotiate for a cut of the profits, or a performance based bonus.
  • Remind your boss of potential non-cash benefits like paid training, a computer at home, telecommuting, or more administrative support.
  • As a rule, you should reject the first offer and accept the second (you don’t want to appear too eager). After that, more concessions from your boss will be made grudgingly, so any extra dollars can create ill will or make you appear expensive (or out of touch) when the boss is deciding whom to lay off.
  • If you can’t seem to negotiate a raise now, try to get your boss to agree to one in a few months if you meet some agreed-on objectives. Under no circumstances should you fail to meet those objectives!

Don’t have much of a case? Well, maybe this isn’t the right time to ask for a raise. Not only are you unlikely to get it, but your boss may think, “What nerve! she’s already getting paid more than she’s worth!”

[tags]benefits, bonus, boss, compensation, employer, job, jobs, money, negotiate, negotiating, negotiation, negotiations, negotiators, paycheck, how do I get a raise, how do I ask for a raise, get a raise, how to ask for a raise, salary[/tags]

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About the author

Ron Haynes has written 988 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.