Ask the HR Lady: Best Way to Ask for a Raise

Posted by on Jun 29, 2011 in Advice, Pay | 0 comments

photo credit: miego.com

Dear HR Lady: I have been in my current job for about 6 months and need to make more money.  What’s the best way to ask for a raise?  ~ Cindy, Wyoming

Dear Cindy: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are more likely to eventually get fired than get a raise if you ask for one.  In today’s economy, all the negotiations for the first three years at your new job need to be done when you’re working out the job offer.  Once you have agreed to the terms of the job such as hours, pay, work location, etc., you need to be ready to live with that for at least 3 years before asking for a major change.  Any sooner, and you will likely spook your employer, create a negative impression of yourself, and end up fired later down the road because your boss simply doesn’t like you any more.

When the time is right to ask for a raise, be prepared.  Make a bullet pointed list of the projects, accomplishments, and other factual data that you have done above and beyond the job you are already being paid to do.  Be ready to talk about how you have made or saved money for the company, and try to tie your compensation increase request to those figures.  For example, if you have saved the company $115,000 over the last two years, bring that number up again when you ask for the specific pay increase you want.

Pay increases are awarded as a percentage of your current salary.  Most companies have completely frozen pay increases, but they still happen for star performers.  Your pay increase will likely be 1-2% of your current pay.  Before the economic decline, it was common for an employee to receive a 3-6% increase each year.  Now, even promotions within a company will only gain an employee a 10% pay increase…. if they’re lucky.  Many companies will try to get a person to take a promotion with no pay increase, hyping up that the new title is all worth it.  Not.

When you ask for your pay increase, don’t expect your boss to make a decision right then.  It will take a few weeks for the right people to be consulted, typically.  Also, be prepared to be offered a small bonus instead or more flexible work hours.  The key is to not get bitter if you don’t get a resounding yes right away… or ever.  You have a job.  You may not realize it right now, but you are one of the lucky ones.  Good luck and I wish you the best! ~HR Lady

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