Asking for a raise

My wife is getting more and more responsibility at work. She handles a number of high profile cases, she’s following a course to become the company’s Data Protection Officer for the upcoming GDPR legislation and is the all around go-to-girl for any problem around the office. This leads her to think about asking for a raise. Unfortunately, she has no clue how to go about this as she’s never asked for a raise before.

The first thing I told her to do, is to make a list of reasons why she deserves a raise. I like to think I deserve a raise every year, but my boss doesn’t always agree. Besides that, my wife is probably not the only one asking for a raise and her boss only has a limited budget to work with.

That’s why it’s important that my wife is ready to convince her boss that she deserves this raise. I advised her to make a list of the things she’s accomplished at her work and her new responsibilities. Every reason goes on that list, from being on time every day to the high profile cases she handles. The argument “I haven’t had a raise in the past x years” can also be on that list. Not getting a raise can become discouraging.

Another useful tool are salary comparison sites such as Glassdoor. Here you can anonymously compare your salary to that of people in the same sector as you. Another great argument is that you are making less than colleagues with the same experience. Those colleagues don’t necessarily have to work in the same company.

List only the accomplishments since the last raise. The reason she’s asking for a raise is for all the things she did since her last raise. The reasons before that were addressed by the previous raise. So she’s already been rewarded for those efforts, they don’t count anymore. If you haven’t gotten a raise yet, then list all the accomplishments you realised since you started working for the company. Your pay was to convince you to come work for this company. This raise is the reward for all the things you’ve accomplished since then.

In some jobs, the boss/supervisor is not the one who can make the decision to give a raise. So give your supervisor all the information to present your case to the person responsible for giving raises. If you don’t feel confident your supervisor will do a good job, talk to the responsible person directly. Be warned that your current supervisor might not be too pleased you went over his head.

Now she has all the reasons why she deserves a raise, it’s time to set up the meeting. Due to the informal atmosphere at her work, my wife can just go to her boss and say she wants to talk about her pay. When I talked about this with my employers in the past, I’ve always let them know what each meeting was about so they don’t feel ambushed. It also gives your boss the opportunity to prepare for this talk. Your boss can already check if there is room in his budget or find reasons not to give you one. For example, if you got new responsibilities, but screwed them up and cost the company money. Try to anticipate these reasons and come up with arguments to why you earned that raise.

In some companies, there are fixed dates for salary reviews. If your company has such a process, don’t plan a separate meeting, but wait for your review meeting. If you don’t know if there is such a process, talk to your boss anyway.

During this meeting, stick to the facts and the prepared reasons. It’s a negotiation about your salary, keep your emotions out of it. Tears or rage can have an unexpected, but in my opinion, mostly negative impact. What it boils down to is making your boss aware that you made the company more money than it earned in the past and you want a piece of that pie. You helped increase it, after all.

After all is said and done, I always sent my boss an email with all the reasons I deserve the raise. That way, he/she can review the points afterwards and is reminded of all the tasks you do within the company. These are all the steps I go through when asking for a raise and they’ve worked very well in the past.

If my wife gets the raise, she now earns more and a bottle of celebratory bubbles will appear. If she doesn’t, I would ask why it was denied. She obviously has good reasons to earn more money. When her boss gives a good explanation then you can try again the next year.

If, however, your boss is evasive and gives bogus reasons such as not enough budget while the company is doing well, then it might indicate that your boss is trying to deny you that raise. I’ve never encountered this myself, but I have friends who have been in this situation.

When you are denied a raise on multiple occasions when you have valid reasons, keep in mind that your boss might not value your contribution or have a lot of respect for you. This might be a sign to switch to a job where your employer does value what you bring to the table.

Keep in mind that this is all up for interpretation and you have to make your own judgement call. If you’re unsure, talk to friends or family to get another perspective.

Good luck getting that raise!

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