“How about that raise, Boss?”
If this question will be leaving your lips any time soon, it’s important that you do everything possible to ensure that the response you get will be in the affirmative.
Here are some do’s and don’ts, courtesy of two experts: Gregory Giangrande, EVP and chief human resources officer for Dow Jones, and author Alison Green, who writes the popular “Ask a Manager” blog.
- Do your homework. If you’re going to ask for something, you better know what you’re asking for. Compensation depends on your performance, your experience, the company’s size, how good business is and where you live. Use the Internet to find out what your peers make around the country and in your specific city. The Labor Department website (www.dol.gov) is a good place to start, but you should also ask individuals. There are professional groups online (start with LinkedIn) where you can talk to people in your field about it. Some of them aren’t going to want to tell you what they make, of course, but if you explain why you’re asking you’ll probably get some helpful advice. They may not give up specific figures, but you will get a salary range if you ask enough people.
- Do it at the right time. If your timing is bad, your chances of hearing “no” are fantastic. Don’t ask for a pay hike when your supervisor is in a bad mood, or if the company just announced abysmal fiscal figures. Choose the right time and schedule a sit-down when the business forecast is good and the boss is smiling.
- Know your accomplishments. What have you done in the last 12 months? List everything. Be specific. Statements such as “I’ve accomplished a lot for this company” are gonna gonna fly like the Hindenburg. Your list, according to Giangrande, should include such details as volume of sales, revenue and profit figures (if your job involves those, of course). Projects you’ve completed and when you completed them are important, and so are additional responsibilities you took on to get them done. Show unequivocally that you’re a high-value asset to the company, and that you’re a top reason the bottom line looks as good as it does.
- Don’t whine, threaten or grovel. Want to sound like the kind of person bosses LOVE turning down for a raise? Then try: “I’ve done a lot for this company, and I hope you realize it as much as other companies would.” Now’s the time to be professional, so begin your case, suggests Green, with something more along the lines of: “I very much appreciate the opportunities and responsibilities this company has given me.” It’s not groveling if you mean it, and if you don’t mean it, well… Maybe you should be looking for a new job instead of a new salary.
- Be ready for “no.” Be prepared for the worst. How you handle it could mean the difference between “no at this time” and “not now, not ever.” A “no” doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t deserve a raise. It might mean the company really can’t afford to give it to you just yet. Bear in mind that salaries are the biggest expense for many companies, and you may not be the only one asking for a raise right now. Whatever you do, don’t storm off in a huff. Instead, ask your boss what you need to do to earn a pay hike in the future. That will give you a clear plan of action to follow and bring up when you ask again. With a professional reaction and a positive attitude, you’ll be well on your way to earning that raise sooner rather than later.