Categorized | Career

Asking for a Raise

Posted on 18 September 2008

You’ve gone above and beyond, and like any reasonable, ambitious young man or woman, you feel you should be aptly compensated for your contributions. It’s time to learn the word “commensurate.”

Why You Deserve a Raise

There are a number of personal accomplishments that will be of aid in grappling for a raise:

  • You’ve saved the company lots of money
  • You’ve made the company lots of money
  • You’ve increased your department’s productivity and quality of work
  • You’ve gone beyond the call of duty (your job description)
  • You’ve improved something (other than the swiftness with which the office runs out of beer on Friday afternoons)
  • You’re being courted by another company or department which has offered more pay, benefits or responsibilities

Regarding the latter, keep in mind that if you opted to leave the company, the HR department knows that it will have to spend a significant amount of time and effort attempting to woo, hire and train your successor. It’s important to know that this is very much in your favor, but it’s equally important you don’t lay down an ultimatum — all inconvenience aside, such boldness may compel your boss to turn the check signing duties over to the state unemployment office.

When to Request a Raise

Timing is crucial. Study your boss’s moods (is he more chipper on a Monday or a Friday? Is there a weekly meeting that usually leaves her with an indelible scowl on her face? When is he most likely to engage in friendly chitchat with his underlings?). Being able to predict the moods of your boss will be instrumental in angling for a heavier paycheck.

Ideal times to request a raise:

  • You’ve just done something very, very good, and have become something of a hero around the office
  • You’ve received a tantalizing offer from another company, department or headhunter, and your department would suffer greatly from your absence
  • Business is booming and the wealth must be shared

Pursuant to the latter, keep in mind your chances suffer considerably if you’re employed by a start-up laboring under the teetering ax of nervous venture capitalists, or a larger company actively looking to slash costs.

How to Get a Raise

Now that you’ve demonstrated incredible proficiency and dauntless enthusiasm in your field, plus an impeccable sense of timing, flawless execution is integral. Make sure you cover the following bases before your fateful meeting:

  • Do your job: If you haven’t excelled in your work, there’s no reason for your boss to grant you a raise
  • Do your homework: Find the going rate for others in your field, and rate yourself accordingly. Although it’s not bad to gain some idea of what your co-workers earn (if you can do so tactfully), don’t bring your findings directly to your boss — you will look like an ass. Study up on your company’s financial status to see if they are even in a position to offer you a raise. Be prepared to convince your boss that this hike will be to everyone’s benefit. Be ready to soundly refute any reservations your boss may have.
  • Do your figurin’: Factor in the money you’ve saved or earned for the company, and take a cut of that. For example, if you instituted cost-cutting measures that saved the department $100,000, it would not be unreasonable to ask for 5% to 10% of the savings. That said, don’t decide on a specific number, but a range: the ceiling should be about 110% of your desired hike, and the floor should be the smallest possible amount you’ll take without walking.
  • Do your song and dance: Enter the meeting with confidence, not arrogance, and refrain from making brash demands (at least overtly). Convince your boss that to place a finite value on your contributions is to trivialize the length and breadth of infinity itself. Hand him or her the pudding with the proof in it. Sell, sell, sell. And if you are turned down, express your disappointment, shake hands and calmly walk away. The composed manner in which you take the rejection may give your boss the impression that you have something else lined up — something better — even if you don’t. Play the cool hand. Your boss may even come to his or her senses and give you what you deserve — that is, if you deserve it in the first place.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. jason killian says:

    Ive always found getting a raise very difficult, I have however found that it is easier to jump income brakets 20-20-40K by simply getting a similar job at a competing company. I just read’s top 10 job site list, they added two new sites: (networking) (matches you to the perfect job)

    Whole Top 10 list here:

    Good luck!

  2. Resume Tips says:

    Hi Khan. Great tips, especially the tips offered under “How to get a Raise.” I agree that doing your homework will help you figure out a reasonable rate for yourself. Chances are, your boss knows the market rate {and} if your current salary is above or below it. So having a ballpark or “range” as mentioned in “do your figurin’” that’s both fair and truly what you feel you may be worth (with proof to back it up) is the best way to present your case. It’s not always about the exact number that you desire, but what you’re actually worth, what the market dictates, and if your company is in a position to make it happen.

    Resume to Referral
    Resume and Career Services

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