How to ask your boss for a raise

Wednesday, December 22, 2004 at 1:00am

Like most employees in today's workforce, you are likely to hold many positions during your career. You will also receive dozens of raises. However, like most employees, you probably don't know how to negotiate with an employer for the best compensation package.

The very first thing you need to do before seeking a raise is to find out how much your position is worth. The best way to find this out is to do a little research. Check with the U. S. Department of Labor's statistics on income in your local library branch, the State of Tennessee's Department of Work Force Development, trade associations related to your field or the employer's human resource department. Take into consideration your years of experience and education. Realize that the area of the country you live in can make a difference in compensation when comparing national figures to Nashville.

Consider your relationship with your boss. Can you walk in and start a casual conversation or is the relationship more formal? How will your boss react? Will he/she be receptive or defensive? Your judgment is important in this situation.

Take a look at how well your employer is doing financially. The timing may not be right if the company is in a cutback mode.

Have others received raises above the usual annual cost of living increase? If others are receiving or have recently received raises, maybe it is a good time to seek one for yourself.

Ask yourself if you have made significant contributions to your employer in your position. These can be recent contributions or ones made over time. Employers are more often likely to give significant raises or promotions to employees who have a history of good job performance.

Does your boss know of your contributions? Don't leave it up to your boss to know everything you do - tell him. It is not bragging to let superiors know you are doing a good job.

After gathering information and taking into consideration all of the mentioned factors, it is time to set up a plan of action. Try to aim high within realistic expectations. Pick a time that will be the most advantageous to talk with your boss including your annual evaluation.

Your approach should:

  • Have a positive tone
  • Be persuasive
  • Be organized
  • Indicate your contributions
  • State what you want

    If things don't go as you hope, be prepared to set up a long-term approach. Lay the groundwork for the future. Ask your boss what areas you need to improve. Ask what actions you need to take and then follow through on them.

    Make sure you are visible with your actions and new accomplishments. Continued interaction with your boss is important. Use informal follow-up conversations when appropriate.

    Don't forget to do the little things bosses look for from outstanding employees. Don't give him an excuse for not giving you a raise. Get to work on time. Respond to him and other employees with a positive "can do" attitude. Leave personal problems at home. Don't take unnecessary sick days.

    If you do not agree with your boss's performance evaluation don't get mad or defensive. Discuss it in a positive manner. This is your chance to influence his opinion, not only now, but also in the future.

    The key to successful negotiations is to put yourself in a good position from the outset and then not being afraid to ask for what you want. A positive can do attitude will have its just rewards.

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