Some people say “More money, more problems.” Well, that’s not what I’ve experienced—especially when it comes to negotiating wages and asking for raises. In the employment world, consider yourself a product and your wage as the company’s investment in you. It’s time to show the company a high ROI, and pitch the case for a higher investment. From economic inflation to employee retention, there are many reasons to ask for a raise. When the time came for me to request a raise, I took a few steps to increase my chances of success.
First and foremost, use your resources—your human resources, that is. Speak to veterans in your company about what worked for them. That’s how I heard this gem: “Demand nothing; showcase everything.” One coworker has been with the company for 15 years. When she asks for raises, she treats it like a business proposal—because it is. Showcase hard facts of your increased production, your decrease in errors, or your increased retention of clients. Be specific and irrefutable. If your boss manages a large team, it’s also wise to remind them of your completed and current projects.
That same coworker gave me another tip: keep a copy of your original job description (if you’re in the same position), and then update it to include new duties that have been assigned. Tuck both of those documents in with your stack of evidence for why it’s time for a raise. This allows you to show your boss your increased responsibility—which is another way to show the company why investing in your retention is worth the increased hourly cost.
Timing is everything though! Annual reviews are a good arena for general discussions on growth and performance, but your review doesn’t decide your raise—the budget does. Your boss cannot give you a raise if there’s no room allotted in the budget for such an increase. So find out when your department sets their budgets (…it’s commonly 3-4 months before end of the year reviews), and have the discussion before that budget deadline.
You can’t get what you don’t ask for, be weary of over-asking. When asked about your desired raise, know your HR policy on raises. If they offer 3% raises annually, but on your performance review you received average scores…it is not likely that you’ll receive the full 3%.
Show self-awareness on a professional number and think of a reasonable goal, and then make your case for just above that amount. For example, if you received average ratings on your performance review, then consider asking for a 1.5% increase in salary. However, you did help implement new programming which helped your company get new clients, so it’s not unreasonable to ask for a 2.2% increase.
Sharpen your case with updated information. There is a market-average pay rate for someone with your responsibilities at a comparable institution. Find that benchmark. When discussing a raise with your boss, it is more than okay to say something like “As I understand the market right now, on average people in my position make $XX,XXX annually. I am currently making $XY,YYY, and our direct competitors are making $XZ,ZZZ.” Remember, it’s a business proposal and decision makers respond to numbers, not emotions.
Have good sportsmanship. Worst case scenario is that your request is denied, and you’re temporarily stuck right where you already are. That’s okay. Take the rejection maturely (which further showcases that you’re worthy of investment). Request specifics for how you can improve your chances of getting a raise in the future. Keep the conversation going with your boss and keep your eye on your future with the company.
I didn’t know these practices ten years ago! The first time I requested a raise, I was meek, embarrassed, and unsure. I knew I needed to be paid more, but I didn’t know if I was “doing it right.” Thankfully, I’ve gotten over that fear with practice, and by getting advice from others who came before me, and by helping others who are younger than me.
I know there’s still more for me to learn—what methods have worked for you in your career?
Disclaimer: This blog does not directly reflect the views, opinions or strategies of Fort Worth Community Credit Union.
Blog written by Michal Broussard, FTWCCU Loan Processor.