You've been on the job for a while and you feel that you should be earning more money. The thought of asking for a raise can be a little nerve-racking for anyone, but if you prepare ahead, you'll have a better chance of success when you do ask for that raise.
- Do your homework. Find out what the normal salary range is for your position and try to work your way toward the top amount. Remember, salaries for similar jobs can vary dramatically in different areas, so be sure to seek figures for your region. There are a number of websites that allow you to search for typical pay scales of assorted careers; see the sidebar for links to a few.
- Timing is everything. Don't head into the boss's office looking for more money right after the company announces its lowest earnings in years! Additionally, be sure to schedule an appointment to see your boss. Barging into his office isn't going to help you start your conversation out on the right foot.
- This is business. Remember, it is up to you to highlight why you have earned and deserve the raise. It is not your employer's concern that you have bills to pay (everyone does!), so your personal finances should never be part of the discussion.
- Be prepared. Be ready to show that you have been a valuable asset to the company. Sales figures, improved productivity, great customer service ratings, and glowing reviews--all of these things will help you to make your case. Come to the bargaining table with solid documentation of your achievements.
- Aim high. Ask for more money than you expect to get. Everyone likes to have the "final word"--approach your employer with a figure that's a bit more than you are willing to accept so that you allow her to be the one who actually chooses an agreeable amount. By using this technique, you can both leave the meeting feeling like winners.
- Be realistic. Small, regular raises are often easier to negotiate than one big jump in salary. See what works best at your company.
- Benefits count, too. Medical coverage, flex time, and performance-based bonuses may be well worth negotiating for. If the company is unable to increase your salary at this time, see if there are other concessions that they would be willing to make. Maybe you could arrange to telecommute several days a week, saving you money on gas, vehicle wear and tear, wardrobe, and convenience lunches.
- Keep your cool. Never use an ultimatum as a means to secure a raise unless you mean it. If you announce that you'll quit unless you get more money, and you don't get the raise, you'd better be prepared to walk out the door.
- Go for it! Sometimes, the only way to get a raise is to ask for it. Some companies have a set raise schedule, or hire employees on contracts that specify pay increases. At others, the pay rate of employees is determined on a case-by-case basis. At those companies, you must speak up if you expect to earn more money!