How to Get the Raise You Deserve

By CSU Global - December 30th, 2019

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You work hard, and it’s natural to expect that you will be fairly compensated for your efforts. Whether you’re in your first job or you’re a seasoned professional, you have likely considered asking for a raise in order to meet your financial goals or as a reward for a job well done. Here, we’ll explore a snapshot of the workplace, ways of comparing your salary, and strategies for having a conversation with your employer about getting the raise you deserve. 

The Workplace Today

If it feels like your dollar isn’t stretching as far as it should be, you’re not imagining things: According to the Pew Research Center, today’s dollar, when taking inflation into account, has about the same buying power as it did 40 years ago. This is surprising in the face of the lowest level of unemployment in decades and a market that has seen an increase in jobs across the board since the Great Recession. Wages simply have not increased relative to the economy’s growth — most of the financial gains have gone to those who have historically been the nation’s highest earners, leaving the vast majority of the workforce to contend with stagnated wages. What’s more, annual growth in the cost of rent (3.6 percent) is outpacing annual growth in wages (3.2 percent), eating away at more of Americans’ take-home pay.

Based on these facts and your own personal experiences with wages and expenses, it’s easy to understand why a raise could help relieve financial pressure and help you reach your goals. As an employee, you do have the power to ask for more compensation — especially if you’ve got experience.

Highly skilled workers, especially in industries like tech and healthcare, are extremely hard to come by. According to SHRM, when an employee leaves, it can cost employers anywhere from six to nine months of that employee’s salary in recruiting, training, and onboarding costs. And the more highly skilled the position, the harder it is to replace the employee. Simply put, in today’s job-saturated economy, you have the upper hand in your request for more compensation. 

Organizing Your Request

Once you decide it’s time to ask for a raise, it’s important to prepare your rationale for why you believe you deserve more compensation. Even if you expect your employer will agree with you and wholeheartedly give you a raise, it’s better to have data on your side. 

Start by comparing your salary to what’s typical for your position. There are tools available online — like this one from Indeed, this one from Payscale, and this one from Glassdoor — that can help you understand the typical salary range for your position or the comparable per-hour wages you should expect. 

Even if you find that you’re within a typical range for your position, it’s important not to discount soft skills, like leadership, teamwork, communication, etcetera. Make a list of ways you’ve contributed to the workplace — helping a teammate, tackling a big project, learning a new skill and deploying it for the company’s benefit, and so on. Are you a team leader? Cool under pressure? Always willing to lend a hand? Consider what makes you indispensable, and include those items in your list. When you remind your employer of all that you contribute to the workplace, they will be more likely to consider your request. 

Execute the Meeting

Does your company offer yearly raises based on performance and annual reviews? That’s a great time to bring up your request for a raise. Even with one annual meeting set in stone to adjust salary, though, you may find it necessary to have that conversation at another point of the year. It just depends on your individual situation. If a review is close, though (within a month or two), it’s best to wait until then. 

If your company does not typically offer a “guaranteed” raise or annual review every year, it’s really up to you when to make your request for a raise. Try not to ask during a high-stress time at your company. And if you’re able to time the request with a big accomplishment, all the better! The momentum can help your employer see your value even more than they already do. 

Meetings like this can be intimidating, especially if you don’t get a lot of face time with your boss or whoever has the authority to grant you a raise. As with any other important meeting, make sure you get good sleep and try to schedule the meeting for when you’re performing at your finest. Dress sharply, assume good posture, and go easy on the caffeine (these meetings can feel stressful enough without caffeine-induced jitters)! 

Calmly outline why you requested the meeting, some of your accomplishments, and your vision for the future — how you want to grow in the job, take on more responsibility, etc. Then ask for the raise in simple, clear terms. Everyone in the meeting should walk away with a very clear understanding of what was requested and why. 

And always remember: The answer may be “no.” That doesn’t mean “no” forever, though — and it may help you either better frame your rationale for the next time you ask or when you apply to a new position that better meets your income requirements. 

Send a Follow-Up

Once the meeting is over, make sure to reach out to whomever you met with and thank them for their time. Treat it as a learning opportunity — whether the answer was yes, no, or maybe, ask for feedback on the meeting and your request. Your employer will appreciate the thought, and it demonstrates your commitment to your request. 

Especially for Americans, talking about money is notoriously dicey (many find it to be rude or boastful, or they’re nervous their earnings won’t stack up to their peers’). But in the workplace, it’s more than reasonable to request a raise. Good luck!

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