Is Six Months Too Soon for Struggling New College Grad to Ask for a Raise?

Jeff writes:
I graduated from college last year and started working with a great company in
February. The problem is that I am making practically no money and cannot
afford my bills. I am very cautious when it comes to budget and spending
but I am seriously struggling. I have been at my job for only 6 months. Is it
too soon to ask for a raise?
Today I was “recruited” by another company that told me I could make
$80K my first year which is almost triple of what I’m making now.
Is there a good way for me to present this topic to my boss? As a new
employee and a new member of the “real world” how can I best
address this?

The Career Doctor responds:
It’s so easy — at any age and any stage in your career — to look at other offers
hear of higher-paying opportunities and wonder whether you should consider
jumping ship. And when the money is so much more than you are currently
earning that makes it ever so much more tempting. Just remember the old
cliche that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.
What appears to be an amazing chance to make a lot of money may not
be what it seems.
So should you look at other opportunities? Sure why not? I think it’s almost
an obligation of any worker to know your market value. While knowing your value
might make you a little depressed — like when you find out you are making
well below the industry average for your profession — it still should be empowering
and give you ammunition when you are asking for a raise.
Of course there are risks associated with looking interviewing. If your current
employer finds out you might be labeled as someone not loyal to the company
and gradually forced out.
And I know for new grads who are experiencing real money for the first time –
yet also facing real bills for the first time — salary is a big deal. So what do you
do? If you have a good rapport with your boss I say there is no harm in asking
about a six-month salary review (though typically you negotiate that at the time
of the job offer). If it’s a no then you move to your next decision. If it’s a yes
gather as much data as possible to showcase not only your impact with the
company but also industry salary figures for your level and location — but go
into it knowing that companies rarely give huge salary increases in the form of a
raise… so you may get a bump but it is not going to be a massive one.
Finally remember that money is not everything. I personally think the job
corporate culture and your co-workers are much more important than salary.
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