How to Get a Raise: Examining, Researching and Explaining Your Worth
August 25, 2011
Even in a challenging economy, competitive companies strive to retain talent and avoid costs associated with training new replacements. While benefits and workplace rewards are an important factor in keeping employees happy, productive and engaged, base salary remains the primary fulcrum for retention. Companies give raises because talent has value and turnover costs money.
Do you feel you’re paid what you’re worth? If not, preparing to ask for a raise can be a daunting process. But, with a few simple steps, it doesn’t have to be.
First and foremost, you have to be honest about your own performance. Ask yourself the following questions:
Have my original job duties expanded enough to warrant more pay?
Can I cite specific actions or projects that have contributed to my company’s bottom line?
Has my performance exceeded expectations?
Has my leadership inspired others?
Was I willing to follow direction when asked to be a part of a team?
If your answer to each of these questions is a resounding, “Yes,” document examples and create talking points for a meeting with your manager. Essentially, you are creating a list of facts to justify merit, scope of work and irreplaceability. As you build your case, anticipate potential challenges and be prepared to rebut them.
Next, research how your salary compares to the market pay rate. SalaryExpert’s Premium Salary Report provides salary information unique to your position and location. Reports are personalized based on your experience and education level, the industry you work in and the size of your company. Often, employees overlook obtaining a salary report prior to discussing a pay increase with their employers. On the other hand, managers and human resource professionals are typically equipped with multiple salary surveys and analysis software; going into a negotiation without your own report about the labor market puts you at an immediate disadvantage.
Once you have an understanding of the “going rate” for your position, tap other resources such as job boards to examine postings for similar positions in similar industries. Although salary discussions are discouraged among colleagues, try contacting people in your network for advice on hypothetical situations or join association discussion boards for industry-related pay data.
With a clear picture of your performance and the market rate for your position, prepare a “matchstick statement” — an assertive, specific and concise statement delivered in the time it takes a struck match to burn your fingertips.
This statement will set the ground rules for the meeting: you’re confident you deserve a raise; you have examples of your successes; you have substantial data to pinpoint your worth; and you’re ready to discuss options.
Although background research is imperative, how and when you approach your manager can ultimately dictate the outcome of any negotiation. If your employer does not have an established salary review program, use common sense to find the appropriate opportunity to request a private meeting, such as when the overall business is doing well, or after you have just accomplished something significant for the organization. Give advance notice of the reason for the meeting, as well as suitable time for your managers to contact human resources or their superiors. Nobody likes to be ambushed.
During the meeting, be prepared to follow your matchstick statement with proper support. Direct the discussion away from money from the start. Be organized and straightforward. Don’t be antagonistic — this is the time to check your emotions at the door. After you and your employer have discussed your value as an employee, then talk about money.
Also, be prepared to discuss new opportunities should your manager determine a pay raise is not possible at that time. Follow up any negative response by asking positive questions regarding how you can improve performance, take on more responsibility and work toward your goal of higher compensation. Remember, your managers might not view your successes the same way you do. By discussing their wants and needs, you may be able to reach a compromise. At the very least, this calm and well-researched demonstration of your performance value may lead to a higher increase in pay upon your next review.