Question: “How do I go about asking for a raise?”
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Whenever possible, do not stay in a situation in which you feel you are not being paid what you deserve. (Yes, granted many of us feel that way to a certain degree, but I am talking about when there is a major discrepancy between what we are paid and what our peers in other companies are paid for doing the same job.)
But if you are happy with your job and your employer, rather than looking for a new job outside the company, consider proactively requesting a raise. Most larger employers have specific policies regarding employee reviews and raises, but in many other companies, the policy is not as clear. And regardless of the employer policies, if you have gone without a raise for an extended period of time or taken on several major new responsibilities without any financial benefit, it may be time for you to request a raise.
Your first step should be to develop a plan for requesting the raise. Timing is important here, as is the method of the request. Pick a good time to ask for the raise — when the company and department are doing well. As for your method of requesting a raise — or at least requesting a raise meeting — your choice is more about your comfort zone; some people simply ask their boss for a raise meeting while others put the request in writing.
Once your boss has agreed to your request for a meeting, your goal should be in providing a compelling story for why you deserve a raise. You need to focus on your contributions and accomplishments (projects completed, sales results, cost-savings, etc.) since the last review. You should also complete some research on comparable salaries for people with your experience and qualifications (using various sources such as industry salary surveys, online salary sites, etc.).
Approach the meeting with a realistic goal. Even if you are grossly underpaid compared to the others in your position, you will rarely ever get a big bump in one of these meetings. For example, if you are 20 percent below what others make, you will rarely ever get that large an increase, so be realistic about the size of the raise to expect. If the gap is that large, however, you can use it as leverage for requesting a shorter timeframe for your next raise meeting.
At the meeting, remember two things. First, even though you may have requested the meeting, let your boss take the lead. And second, remember to show your appreciation regardless of the outcome of the meeting. Your boss may love and value you, but may have his or her hands tied because of bigger budgetary issues.
Finally, if you get denied a raise meeting or are greatly disappointed by the results of the meeting, then it may be time to consider other options, such as looking for a new job. Sometimes the only way for job-seekers to stay current with their value in the marketplace is by switching employers.
Learn more with these resources:
This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor’s Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.
See a list of all the most common college, career, and job questions — and Dr. Hansen’s solutions.
Who is the Career Doctor? Learn more, read his current career column, or browse the column archives when you visit the Career Doctor’s homepage.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is a nationally recognized career and job-search expert. He is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Maximize your career and job-search knowledge and skills! Take advantage of The Quintessential Careers Content Index, which enables site visitors to locate articles, tutorials, quizzes, and worksheets in 35 career, college, job-search topic areas.