3 Steps to Get the Raise You Deserve

Photo (cc) by Alan Cleaver

CEOs saw an average pay raise of 24 percent last year. Great work if you can get it. The rest of us? More like 2 percent.

Sure, there’s a lot of unfair dealings out there, but generally, CEOs make more when their companies perform well. That’s the same idea we should embrace when pitching our own raise requests, one expert says – but by focusing on our personal performance.

Money Talks News reporter Jim Robinson spoke with Norm Seavers from Broward College’s Institute for Economic Development. Watch the following video for ideas on approaching the boss, then read on for more advice…

As Seavers says in the video, it’s important to avoid the “self-interest approach.” Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson agrees: “If you want to get a raise from me, talk about what you contribute as opposed to what you need.” Here’s how…

1. Think like a boss, not an employee

Companies can’t go to their customers and tell them they need to charge more because their car broke down. The same logic applies to for employees: Offering a list of your bills followed by, “I need money” isn’t going to work.

“That’s absolutely not going to get the results you want,” says Seavers, who adds it’s OK to mention it, just don’t make it the sole reason for the raise.

If you want the company to understand your needs, you have to prove you understand theirs. Start by picking the right time to have the conversation.

“Be considerate of your organization and whether there are times of the day or month when things are very hectic,” Seavers says. “Those are not good times.”

Instead, schedule an appointment at a time when the conversation won’t be rushed and the boss won’t be stressed about bigger problems – including money.

“Consider the financial health of the employer,” Seavers says. “If things are very, very bad in that organization, in that industry, that may just not be a good time.”

Try to time your request to coincide with good news – a strong quarterly report, for instance.

2. Know and highlight your value

The salaries of your coworkers may be a touchy subject, but knowing what people doing similar work earn strengthens your negotiating position. If you can’t get specific numbers from your company or a professional group for your industry, at least get ballpark figures through sites like Salary.com or PayScale.com. If the company’s hiring for a similar position, look at the salary range they’re offering.

Keep track of your achievements and major contributions at the company – make note of praise, awards, and commendations. If you’re walking into the boss’s office to say, “I’m worth more,” be prepared to prove it. Know how the work you’ve done makes the business more successful, and hit her with examples backed up with numbers.

“Show that a raise for you is an investment that’s going to pay off,” Seavers says.

It’s important to document these things, because your boss may not remember all the wonderful things you’ve done. Of course, your boss might counter with examples of not-so-wonderful things you’ve done – so be prepared to discuss performance issues like attendance, which Seavers says is “one of the most important things.”

3. Stay flexible

If your boss fights back, don’t get frustrated. “You can’t go into it as an argument,” Seavers says.

If the quality of your work or your attitude is keeping you from a raise, be sure to ask for specifics – and how you can fix the problem. If your company has standard performance appraisals, that paperwork can guide you – and back you up later when you do well.

“You want to put together a plan so that your boss can see you moved on it,” Seavers says. Then you can go back in a few months and demonstrate why you deserve the raise.

If you’re the best you can be but the problem is the company’s finances, ask for other forms of compensation: a reserved parking spot, a company car or gas allowance, even extra vacation time. “Are there other benefits the company could provide that give you what you want?” Seavers asks.

If none of this works, maybe your boss is just unreasonable, and maybe it’s time to look for a new job. But don’t quit out of anger.

“If you’re in a situation where the entire economy is down, the odds are you’re not going to do better any place else,” Seavers says. “But if you have a job and you enjoy the role and there’s a way to grow in it, there’s nothing wrong with hanging in there and asking for money.”

If it’s been a while since you interviewed for a job, refresh with How Not to Land a Job: 18 Interview No-Nos. Need to update your resume? The research you just did to prove you deserve a raise may come in handy, but so will 3 Tips to Build a Better Resume.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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