The current unemployment rate stands at 3.6 percent. Ten years ago, it was around 10 percent. Back then, people considered themselves lucky to even have a job, and wouldn’t have dreamed of asking for a raise.
Of course, this doesn’t take into account those who are either underemployed—that is, doing work that doesn’t use all their skills—or have quit looking for a job. Either way, though, the fact is that many employers are having a harder time finding and retaining good employees.
So Billshark wants you to know that there’s never been a better time to ask for a raise. If that suggestion makes you nervous, here are nine ways to help ensure your success.
- It’s not about need
One guaranteed way to not get a raise is to go to your boss and spell out all the reasons you need more money. Not only is that not their problem, but it may also indicate that you have an inability to manage your money, thus reflecting poorly on you. You will only get a raise if you can show you provide value to the company. Period.
- Figure out your market value
What are comparable people in your industry making for the type of work you do? Check Salary.com, PayScale, and GlassDoor to get a salary range. It’s possible you’re already making more than average for your position.
- Add or subtract from there
Have you acquired additional skills or education that would put you toward the top of your position’s pay scale? Have you assumed additional responsibilities? How long have you worked in your field? What education and/or certifications do you have? Are they standard for the industry, or better than the average?
- Check out your employer
If the company isn’t doing well financially, it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll be able to afford to give you a raise. What about your industry in general? Is it on a downward slope (for instance, retail) or showing growth overall (in green energy, for example)?
- Evaluate your contributions
Go back to the time of your last raise and list your accomplishments since then. Have you picked up the duties of a coworker who left but hasn’t been replaced? Have you streamlined a process to make your team/division/company more efficient? Have you received praise from clients, coworkers, or your boss? Have you brought in one or more new clients? Have you saved an important account? Taken on special projects? In short, how have you contributed to the company’s bottom line?
- Decide on a figure
If you can show in dollars and cents what you’ve contributed to the organization, you’re way ahead. Showing up every day and working hard is expected of every employee, but it’s not enough to generate a raise. Know before you go in what you want. A 10 percent raise these days may be out of the question, but 3-5 percent is more than reasonable.
- Be willing to settle
If after all your preparation the answer is “no,” be ready with alternatives. Ask you boss what it will take to get the raise, and listen. If you need additional schooling or certifications, ask whether the company will pay for that. Would you be willing to settle for a one-time bonus or additional benefits, such as more time off or a telecommuting arrangement? Finally, ask if you can revisit the issue with your boss in three or six months.
- Be ready to walk
If the situation looks hopeless, but you honestly believe you’re underpaid where you work, it may be time to move on. Don’t, however, tell your boss you’re planning to leave. If layoffs are around the corner, you may find yourself on the list without having a new job lined up. If you do give notice, it may spur the company to make a counteroffer. Don’t be disappointed if that doesn’t happen, though. If they don’t have the money, they can’t make it magically appear.
- It’s all about the mindset
When you ask for a raise, keep the company’s best interests in mind, but remember, you’re part of the reason for their success. There’s no harm in asking for a share of that success.
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