Wonder why you didn’t get that raise you deserve? The reason may be as simple as the old saying “You have not because you ask not.”
Employers don’t automatically hand out raises these days, says David Lorenzo, a career adviser and corporate coach based in New York. “Remember that most businesses try to obtain services as inexpensively as possible. This includes labor. Chances are good that you will only receive more if you ask for it.”
So before that gut-wrenching moment when you enter your boss’s office, consider these tips:
- Do your homework. To find out how much your position is worth, visit www.salary.com for statistics on average incomes for specific jobs in your area. If your pay is well below average, you’re a great candidate for a raise.
- Pick the right time. “Timing is everything in business,” says Lorenzo, author of Career Intensity: Business Strategy for Workplace Warriors and Entrepreneurs. If the company and industry are doing poorly, it may not be the best time to ask for more money. But if business is booming, especially if you’ve played a key role in the company’s success, make your move. Special opportunities can provide a natural springboard for a raise: after you’ve received an award, saved significant money for the firm, or agreed to take on additional responsibility. Finally, consider the corporate calendar; you may get better results if you ask while the next year’s budget is being developed.
- List your accomplishments. The bottom line is creating value for your company. “Talk about your value in financial terms. There is almost always a way for a company to reward a star performer,” says Lorenzo, noting that the opposite is true as well. “Examine your performance as it compares to your peers within your organization. If you are not near the top of the list, you probably do not have a viable argument for seeking an increase.”
- Rehearse. Put both your salary research and accomplishments on paper. These will make it easier for your boss to justify your request to superiors. In addition, practice your presentation aloud until it is smooth and professional. Remember, you are selling yourself, and the more you rehearse, the more confident you’ll be.
- Prepare for all reactions. If your employer says “yes,” express your thanks. If the answer depends on the approval of others, express appreciation for your boss’s support in the matter. If the answer is “no,” you might want to suggest other means of compensation, such as more vacation days, flexible hours and the option to telecommute, or ask to reopen negotiations in a few months.
- Consider other options. If a raise is denied and you’re underpaid for your contribution, it may be time to update your resume and explore other job opportunities.
When you do receive that raise, however, don’t rest on your laurels. Prove to your boss and your company that they made the right decision by staying professional, helping the company financially and creating value. Such initiatives will pay off—and help your career—toward a richer tomorrow.