With every new year, people set new and higher ambitions. Have you set one to get a raise this year? And, considering the recession, have you considered it impossible?
Here are five assessments you should take before asking for a raise.
1. How does your salary compare with market rates?
Your salary will depend on your industry, experience, education, and occasionally the local market. The latter is becoming less important to the salary equation because more jobs can be performed outside a specific geographic location. Still, it is smart to factor in comparable pay in your region (all things being equal).
When looking at your salary, don’t forget to factor in other pay benefits such as 401(k) matching contributions, paid vacation, profit sharing, or other perks.
Use the internet to research the pay range for people in the same industry who share similar levels of experience and education. You must have a solid knowledge of the range. Do your homework.
2. How well do you do your job?
Nothing frustrates a manager more than someone who is unwilling to work to his or her potential. Supervisors like people who are reliable, perform consistently, and bring a proven economic impact to the company. A proven economic impact could be saving the company money through insight, skill, or time commitment. Or economic impact could be measured in sales gained, quotas met or exceeded, or other performance benchmarks.
Going above and beyond always increases your chances of a raise. So does being a person with whom people like to work. The latter is a subjective call based on how you fit within company culture.
3. Are you special or are you easily replaceable?
Your mother says you’re a unique individual who no one could possibly replace. And she’s right. However, work relations will be able to determine easily your true contribution in the work setting. Make sure you’re contributing enough to differentiate yourself from the guy in the next cube (or overseas).
Special skills include: specific knowledge, experience, network connections, or creative expertise. People with specific and unique skills are usually more successful when asking for and receiving a raise. Whatever you do, don’t be average!
4. Is it the right time?
Your company policy may strictly determine when and how someone can ask for a pay raise. This could be tied to how long you’ve worked there. Or the company may only entertain requests during a specific quarter. And, frankly, the economy can play a role, too. A company struggling financially will not likely entertain raise requests unless what you bring to them is critical to their operations. Choose your timing carefully.
5. Are you ready for more responsibility?
You can expect increased responsibilities, longer hours, and more work the higher your pay grade. Are you ready and willing to do what is required? If you’re not ready to really step up and go for bigger responsibility, you’re probably not ready for a raise, either. Make sure the time is right for you personally as well as professionally.
Finally, raise or not, as unemployment figures grow, it is smart to be thankful if you have a job. Good luck!
Updated May 5, 2009