How To Get A Raise
Thinking you deserve a raise? You’re not alone. The good news is, corporate coffers are opening up again, not just for already-fat cats, but also for the rest of the workforce. Here are some tips for being a little savvier than Dagwood Bumstead in asking for more money.
Play the numbers. This is one of those random-sounding tips that has the potential for becoming counterproductive if it goes viral. But the current data, at least according to LinkedIn, is that raises are typically granted in January, June and July. So somewhere in the prior month might be a good time to bring up a raise. Apart from whatever effect holiday spirit may have, January makes sense because most American companies use the calendar year for budgeting. Management begins each year with funds available and a reasonable forecast of the year’s prospects.
Accounting is an exception
Tax season revs up in January, and workers and management have their hands full with workload and clients — not the best time to take up administrative issues. Better to go for the June-July cycle, when again the year’s revenues are known, and the workload lessens, as it does in some other industries.
Sure, in January your boss may have a fresh budget. But is it a flush one, predicated on growth in revenues and profits in the prior year? Or is it anemic, with a bad quarter or two behind it and rumors of layoffs in the air? Be realistic and discreet, or you risk being seen as weirdly out of touch with what’s going on in your own company.
In public employment and some corporations, there may be nothing discretionary about raises, which are determined by formula. Or raises that normally are subject to management discretion may be locked down by a temporary freeze. In such cases, random conversations about raises are going to be pointless at best. Concentrate on knowing the system and making sure what you see on your paycheck follows the rules.
Do your homework
In cases where local management is known to have discretion they will still often operate within guidelines based on pay grades — always in government, and nearly always in large private enterprises (at least in “non-exempt” positions subject to wage labor laws). In small businesses or startups, things may be a little less codified. If you work in a graded job, keep an eye on the range for your grade, and have a strategy for making reasonable requests to keep your pay current not just with your increasing tenure, but with increasing experience, productivity, and if applicable responsibilities. Also, don’t forget to pursue options for a grade raise if responsibilities change, or as other opportunities present themselves. You want to avoid being “maxed out” and stuck in your present job.
Most companies still frown on employees discussing their wages with each other. Although that often unspoken rule may be eroding, it’s probably best to play it safe. And anyway, water-cooler conversations about pay are so twentieth century! Check out pay-tracking sites like Payscale.com or GetRaised.com, and you’ll have a sense of how your pay compares with the labor market for your job type, not only in your industry and perhaps your company, but also across all industries that hire people to do what you do.
Prove you deserve it
Pass praise you receive on to your management as you receive it, and keep a record of it for your reviews and/or any discussion of pay you initiate. Objective accomplishments (i.e.: finally making the resource library useable, spearheading setting up your unit’s intranet site, improving the vacation scheduling system or establishing processes, which then become the standard for your department) need to go on this list, too, especially if you have metrics for improved service or reduced costs. Frame that raise as a good investment for the company. Remember, your local management has to justify every raise. Do your boss a favor — have that justification good to go when the time is ripe to raise a raise.