If you are working for someone else, it is important to remember this fact: No one gives you a raise, you must earn it. You've got to prove you are worth the additional money you are asking for. And, you must do this in a professional, business-like, and diplomatic way. You do this by completing salary research and having the facts straight in terms of your worth and the additional value you bring to the table. This may mean that you are not ready to ask for a raise tomorrow. But, taking the extra time, preparation, and effort necessary to ensure that you are eligible for a raise is really the only way you are going to get one. Also, when asking for a raise, it is best to stick to business, rather than personal, reasons. It is not fair to your employer to ask for a raise "because Sally needs new braces" or "because you need to pay for Billy's trip to Europe next summer." Stick to the business facts of why you deserve the raise. Following is an effective three-step process to getting the raise you deserve.
Step 1: Do your homework
The surest way to not get a raise is to throw out some arbitrary or random number to the decision maker. You'll be better off to do some research on what the industry standard of pay is for your position. There are many salary calculators and web sites online such as the salary wizards at HotJobs.com, Monster.com, or Salary.com. Keep in mind, such calculators provide industry averages and may not be adjusted for the cost of living in your particular part of the country. The average salary for an accounting clerk in New York City, New York is going to be slightly higher than for the same position in Deer Lodge, Montana. Check with your company's compensation department on what the exact salary range is for your position. Most companies are obligated to provide this information to you on a confidential basis. With both of these pieces of data, the industry standard pay range and your company's specific pay range; you are now armed with fact-based information to proceed with your strategy.
Step 2: Review your past performance appraisals
Be realistic. In looking over your past performance, do you really merit a raise? Have you exceeded expectations on the job or merely met them? What, if anything, have you done to set yourself apart from the other people in your department?
If you have been a constant top achiever and star performer, then by all means proceed directly to Step 3 and set up a meeting with your boss and ask for the raise. However, if your performance has been less than stellar, do the following before asking for the raise.
a) Develop a great track record at work. For the next three months, put in as much extra effort as possible. Come in a little early, stay a little late. Cut your lunch hour by 15 minutes. Take on extra assignments. Do your absolute best.
b) Meet with your boss. Let your boss know that you like your job but you are interested to know what you can do to earn more money. Modify your current performance plan (or create a new one) to document exactly what you need to do to earn a raise. Also set and document a time when the future review date and meeting will occur.
c) Set goals and expectations. Make a plan for doing what your boss said was needed to make more money. Then do it.
d) Document everything. Keep a record of your meetings with your boss - when you met, what you discussed, what you agreed on, etc.
e) Record your accomplishments. As you meet (or exceed!) each goal, keep a record of specific activities such as the date you completed the goal, the steps you took to accomplish the goal, concrete dollar or time savings and increases in efficiency, etc.
Step 3: Set up a review meeting with your boss
Once you have successfully met each goal and expectation, meet with your boss again. Review what you agreed on, how you have successfully accomplished each goal, and determine exactly what the next steps will be to move you forward and to make more money.
It is important to remember that no one owes you a pay raise or gives you a pay raise - you must earn a pay raise. By being professional, reasonable and fair; you will stand a much better chance in obtaining the pay raise you deserve.
Dr. Dan Strakal has been an expert on the changing workplace, job transition, and career development for nearly 20 years. He acts as a trusted client advisor and consultant within the corporate sector, government agencies, civic organizations, small businesses, and educational institutions. He also provides business, executive and career consulting, coaching and workshops for individual clients and is the coauthor of and contributor to two books, Better Job Search in 3 Easy Steps and Better Job Skills in 3 Easy Steps. Dan is often called upon by the national and international media as an expert and has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Self Magazine, SmartMoney.com, Computerworld, Diversity Inc. Magazine, Chief Information Officer (Australia's Magazine for Information Executives), the Radio America Program: News You Can Use, KBS Radio Canada and many other media outlets. He is on the Board of Directors of the Career Planning and Adult Development Network and is a Platinum Member of the Career Masters Institute. More info at http://www.capable-consulting.com