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How to Get a Raise

We all put the hours in at work and the more time you’re there the more opportunity there is to contemplate things. Maybe it’s time to take on more responsibility and get the pay increase to match. Possibly you’re in the unfortunate position of feeling underappreciated or your salary doesn’t seem to match the amount of effort you put in day after day. Inflation rises approximately 1 to 3% in any given year. Those on hourly wages can find it difficult to expand their lives with inflation’s ability to diminish their purchasing power. Employers are rarely kind enough to freely hand out raises, so we’re left in the position to stand up for ourselves, to go after what we feel we deserve.

Your first step should be to do the appropriate research. Make sure you take the time to assess your current pay rate in relation to your co-workers or the applicable state or industry average. Please note, if you are privy to your colleagues’ rate of pay, do not use such information for negotiation purposes. You want to have a good overview of your position in the industry, and alternative routes you may be able to pursue to get that pay bump.

Now you need to come up with a game plan to broach the subject. Come up with a strategy on how you’re going to approach the topic, reasons you may be looking for a change in position, and how it’s beneficial for your superiors to give more responsibility. Never lead with “I’ve been here for so long and deserve a raise”. In fact, don’t mention it at all. Get creative and be resourceful; you’re essentially up-selling yourself, so come with a list of your accomplishments and skills to best justify your request.

It is important to approach your superior about the matter in an emotionally intelligent way. Consider the timing of when you bring it up. First thing on a Monday morning is probably not ideal. Towards the end of the week, once the day has settled down, would be a more optimal time. Also, try to catch them when they’re in a good mood. Make small talk for a few minutes just to be sure. If it doesn’t seem like a good time, do yourself a favor and wait to bring it up later.

Don’t focus on your finances. The worst reason for a raise is something along the lines of “my personal expenses are more than I’m making right now”. Instead, focus on your work accomplishments and skills. You’ve got to assume they will argue it, so come with plenty of reasons why you deserve a raise and what you are willing to do to get one. This could include added duties, changing positions, or additional training. Try to get in the habit of not using “I” too frequently. While the conversation is about you, it is just as much about the employer; leading from the perspective of your boss with a list of pros and talking points takes a lot of thinking out of the decision. If you rationalize it well enough, and confidently present it in an unselfish way, you will be successful.

Be as humble as you can and be prepared to receive a “no” or “we’ll talk about it later”. Be careful with your response and choice of words. It is important not to get angry or discouraged; coming off as entitled is probably the worst possible outcome. Thank them for their time, and if possible, make plans to discuss it further. If you mention it a few times, and keep getting the same answer or getting ignored, hang in there, eventually the time will come when new people are hired; or the business will come into a position to support the change.

Work takes up practically a third of our lives, so being satisfied with your career is essential to living happily. Things are constantly changing, some industries have very high employee turnover rates, like cooks, servers, cashiers, and stockers. These jobs typically pay minimum wage or just above and have little opportunity for growth or pay raises. Such jobs are not something to build a career upon, since it is unlikely you will feel fulfilled or happy in the long run.

If you are feeling nervous about it all, you can rest with comfort knowing that according to data compiled by PayScale, 75% of workers who request a raise, receive an increase in pay. A 25% chance of failure right from the start is rather optimistic. And 44% were given what they asked for, while another 31% received less, but got something positive, nonetheless. The odds are in your favor, so don’t be nervous, put your best foot forward, present a winning attitude and cement that raise you’ve been wanting.

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