Is there a right way for an employee to approach this subject?
In other words, how to ask for a raise in a way that has a positive result and doesn’t put you in a weak position? Well, asking for that has always been a tricky one, that’s for sure!
In the business world, you will largely get two kinds of companies with different approaches. And within those two approaches, there will be subdivisions. There is no time here to go into depth about those, but essentially the categories can be recognized as:
- Companies that value their staff, which doesn’t include those that just ‘say they do.’
- Companies that don’t care at all about you and will get as much from you for as little cost as possible.
Companies Do Things Differently
Some companies have pay structures and evaluate your performance every year. It happens as a matter of course, but there is no guarantee you will get a pay rise. And in some companies, it is just a procedure to demonstrate to staff that something is happening. The others, of course, see it as a real and worthwhile function for the company and employees.
Then, some companies have fixed increments based on a scale. Therefore, asking for a raise means you will be actually asking for a change in your job description. This will put you on a higher pay scale. But we will look at that later.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, the ‘We don’t care attitude’ seems to be quite prevalent. But assuming you work for a company in the first of our two sections, how do you go about getting a raise?
Some Early Questions To Ask Yourself First
How long have you been there?
If it’s less than a year, except for a change in job function, the question is probably not going to be successful. Given that the job function hasn’t changed, a year will be the minimum.
Have you had a raise before and when?
Once again, if you have and it was less than a year, it will be too early to ask again unless there has been a change in working practices, as already mentioned.
Can you identify a realistic increase in your benefit to the company?
Can you demonstrate an improvement since your last increase? You need to be able to do this, and I do mean realistically not scraping around for a reason. If you can, then you might have a strong position. Part of that could be just your additional knowledge gained since your last increase. But that argument must be backed up with practical examples.
Are you exceeding your boss’s expectations of you?
Hard one to answer, of course, but if you think he or she is very pleased with you, then you have a chance of success.
What does my equivalent earn in other companies?
That is usually irrelevant and not a strong argument. Companies all reward staff in different ways. Salary is just one way.
How is the Company doing?
If you see redundancies and cutbacks, I would stay well away from the boss’s office. They may have been instructed to cut back even more. Raise your head above the parapet, and it could be you. It is extremely unlikely you will get a raise when there are cutbacks all around you.
It’s Not A Perfect World
If that were the case, then you would be working for a company that pays you what you are worth. And they would also know when it is appropriate to make increases.
Of course, we are a long way from that, and so you will have to look out for yourself. It is not a nice thing to have to do in many ways. Most of us won’t feel completely comfortable. It is important to try and make a case not so the boss can say yes, but so they can’t say no.
The starting point is to be prepared to make your case. Let’s have a look at how you can do that.
Before you go marching in the door, it is worthwhile to take a minute to undertake a little assessment of yourself. In other words, are you worth it? I am sure that will be a surprise to some. The tendency is to answer ‘of course I am.’ But it isn’t your opinion that counts.
- Are you better at your job than when you arrived?
- If you were the boss, would you be happy with ‘you’?
- If others are doing the same job… are you better than them, and contribute more?
Have You Done Your Homework?
In other words, do you know what you are going to ask for financially? This shouldn’t be a number that is just plucked out of the sky at random.
It also shouldn’t be a number that balances your personal budget because you have overstretched yourself. That is not the company’s problem; it’s yours. Getting the number right will mean you won’t ask for too much, or too little. But how do you know what the right number is?
Can You Come Up With An Accurate Number?
The answer to that is probably no. Each company pays its staff in different ways, as I have already said. They each place their own values on staff and the importance of the work they do. So they will each apply a different price remuneration level.
There are ways to go online and make very vague assessments, but they will only be vague. You can see what these sites say that someone doing your job should be or, in some cases, is earning. It is a reference point, and that is all, not a hard and fast figure.
Can Your Company Afford It?
I mentioned earlier the apparent financial state of the company. You are not going to be aware of exactly what that is. A good indicator is working conditions and salaries.
If you see people being laid off, it doesn’t always mean the company is in a bad way. Sometimes it is that they just want to make more money. But you have to assess whether the business is doing well and in reasonable shape. If it’s doing well, then you have half a chance. If it isn’t, now may not be the right time. So…
- Have you identified what you consider a reasonable increase?
- Have an idea of what others in your position may be earning?
- Can the company afford it?
If the answer to all three is yes, let’s move on.
Key Tips For Asking
Timing is everything
You have planned out everything and done your homework and today is the day you are going to ask. In comes your boss, they are in a foul mood with a face like a thunder cloud. Everyone is getting it in the neck. Not a good time to ask, I suspect. Timing is important. If they say no, you won’t be able to go back again just because they are in a better mood.
Judge the situation
You will have to assess when that might be. They certainly won’t announce it to you. But you know the boss, I don’t. Do they seem happy? Do things seem to be going well? Your answer is more likely to be in your favor from a happy boss, rather than one who has just scraped their car in the car park.
Even the hour of the day is important
Close to going home time won’t be right, and neither will right before the lunch break. You may have to find out if they are off to a meeting soon as well. You don’t want to have to sit and rush stuff out because you know you’ve only got ten minutes. Pick the time of day carefully.
Other people in the department are being given a raise, but you aren’t
That is probably going to send you a message, and you have the right to ask why that is. But don’t be too upset if you get an answer you don’t like, which might very well be the case. In that scenario, there is little point in asking for a raise. You would have already got one with everyone else.
You Have Another Job Offer For More Money
Firstly, only use that if it is actually true. You could find yourself with no raise and, worse, no job at all if that all goes wrong. But if you have been offered a similar position at another company, there are two ways you can handle that situation.
Inform the Boss
You can sit down with them and explain that you have been offered an alternative position with more money. You can then use that as a precursor to enquiring if a raise might be forthcoming if you decided to stay. The problem with that is you have already been out, done interviews, and considered the situation. And presumably, you have agreed to go somewhere else. Trying to push your boss into a corner isn’t always the best thing to do.
The success of that strategy will depend on two things. Firstly the personality of your boss and if they take your actions personally, which some might. And secondly, what they think of you as an employee. Will they be desperate to keep you and give you your raise?
Hand in your Notice
The second option is you could just hand in your notice and hope that they will ask why. There could then be a discussion about a higher-paid position. That might trigger the right response, but you are still left with the problem. You went out and sourced another position.
However, you ‘sugar coat’ it that won’t look good. But it does give you the chance to have a frank discussion with the boss. If they see you as an important member of the department, it could have the desired effect.
How Not To Approach It With Your Boss?
There are definitely some things to avoid when going through this boss-employee conversation. It will depend almost entirely on the character of the boss.
But it is likely they are going to be loyal to the company that pays their salary. And it is also quite possible they won’t take much of a liking to any personal criticism.
- Avoid even mild criticism of the company and them personally.
- Don’t ever say you are doing three people’s work.
- I have already been with you a year, which unless it is written in your contract is no guarantee of a raise.
- I need the money; they aren’t going to pay you for what your needs might be.
- If I can’t get more money, I will have to leave, at which point you might be shown the door.
- Insinuating you are better at the job than people who may have been there longer.
Once you resort to these tactics, the situation is over, and you have lost. In fact, based on the level of your negativity, it could be more than just a lost opportunity.
What If They Say No?
Something positive can come out of it. I once had to reject an employee’s request for a financial upgrade. They hadn’t quite achieved the performance level the salary level demanded.
Did they storm out of the office and show off and bad-mouth me and the business? No, they got on with it and achieved what was required. They didn’t need to ask again because I watched them, and the moment they achieved it, I called them in. I congratulated them and gave them an increase.
An opportunity for advancement…
A loyal employee had been created. And an employee that recognized I was on their side. I also watched them closely for the future for advances in their position.
So, you leave the office, thank them for their time, and redouble your efforts to show how good you are. And, of course, what they would be missing. This could be a chance to really cement your place as a reliable, committed member of staff. Employers like that.
A Change In Your Job Description
Let’s go back to something I mentioned earlier. A change in your Job Description or perhaps, to put another way, a Promotion. Let’s start by just making sure that we fully understand the difference between a Raise and a Promotion.
A raise, simply put, is just getting more money for doing the same job. A promotion, on the other hand, is assuming a new job with all new responsibilities for which you will probably be paid more.
Is The Application Process Different?
It is basically the same. Some pre-planning, gaining information, and knowing what you might require financially for taking on a new role. There are some differences, however, in the way the discussion might evolve. I am assuming that you have identified a position you consider you would be suitable for. Before making any application, these are important points:
- Make sure you know exactly what the position entails.
- Be convinced that you have the skill set to achieve what is required.
- If there are educational qualifications, ensure you have them or maybe close to achieving them if you are studying.
Then you can move on to the discussion with your boss about a potential promotion. What can you say to support your claim?
- Outline briefly things you feel you have accomplished, real things, not situations created.
- Talk about loyalty to the company.
- Any other contributions you feel you may have made.
- Give any work experience examples that may apply to the new position.
Some other things to consider
- Why are you applying for a promotion, if it’s just for the money, it might be the wrong move?
- Will a promotion benefit your career?
- Do you really want this new job?
The Preparation And The ‘Not to Do’s
These are about the same as when applying for a raise. And should the promotion not be forthcoming, then your attitude should be the same as not getting a raise. All of these situations are part of a personal learning curve.
Maybe one day you might be sitting in the boss’s seat and will have to be at the end of these requests. This experience will teach you a lot if you let it. Whatever the outcome, professionalism is an important asset.
To be professional, you need to look the part as well. These might help:
A classy pen is nice if you are asked to sign something, I would recommend something like the Parker IM Fountain Pen. And a quality case always gives the right impression, such as the Tassia Luxury Leather Executive Case Attache Briefcase.
And for a little something to keep up your positivity, get yourself a Positive Thinking Jar.
Still Not Feeling Self Confident Enough?
Well, firstly, we’ve got some great recommendations for you to build that confidence and get you what you ask for!
Just check out the How To Ask For a Raise: Helpful Tips When Asking For a Raise, the How to Ask for a Raise: Negotiating Your Salary Increase with Ease and Confidence, The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype – and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Write a Novel, and More, the Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything.
Or for more personal growth, take a look at the Believe, Ask, Act: Divine Steps to Raise Your Intuition, Create Change, and Discover Happiness, the Ask: How to Relate to Anyone book, and for the ladies, how about Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want available online in 2023.
Now, if the request didn’t go so well, you’re going to have to update that resume. For that, I’ve found the Resume Format Guide, Land Your Dream Job: Join the 2% Who Make it Past Resumé Screening, the Resume Formats book, Optimize Your Resume: DOs and DON’Ts the SamNova Way, as well as the English for Academic CVs, Resumes, and Online Profiles also available online.
This is never an easy thing to do. It makes us feel quite awkward and almost fearful. But that is a natural feeling. Some of it is linked to failure. What if I don’t get the raise I want? But these feelings can be put to good use with a positive attitude.
So you don’t get it this time… maybe you will next time. However, if you prepare properly and show good skills and characteristics, you might be surprised at what you can achieve.
Good luck getting your Raise!