“Women asking for raises should not only know their value, but they should ask with the confidence that they’re helping the company to be successful.”
-Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
It's just a few more weeks until I hit my one year mark (how did that happen so fast!) with my no longer new job which means it's almost annual review time. That dreaded moment in employment where you sit face to face with your boss and look back on all the moments you've excelled and also (hopefully very few) moments you've sucked. Annual review time also tends to mean it's time to review your compensation and figure out if you deserve a bump in salary....oh the stress! Trust me, nobody enjoys asking for a raise, but it's a necessary evil when you're part of the working world and let's face it, if you don't ask you likely aren't going to get anything.
Let's break it down and figure out the best way to tackle the raise question.
Plan Ahead and Do Your Homework
Do NOT just walk into that meeting expecting a raise and have no evidence to back up why you deserve one in the first place. Make a mental list (or write it down) of your biggest and best on the job accomplishments and how they have impacted your workplace. This doesn't necessarily have to be about money...maybe you found a new program that increases efficiency or boosted morale with a new HR initiative. Whatever it is, make sure you are prepared to prove your worth.
Raises are Normal but Not the Norm
Asking for a raise is not some crazy out of left field question, and I guarantee you are much more worked up about it than you need to be. If your boss has been a boss for awhile, they'll have been through this same conversation many times, and it's not their goal to make you feel uncomfortable. With that said, though, don't go in expecting a raise just because you've made it through another work year...you do need to earn it.
Run the Numbers
Go in with a number and know the breakdown. The average annual raise is about 3% but if you are just plain awesome or maybe took on more work then feel free to bump that up a bit. I even like to shoot a little high, so there's some room for negotiation but know who you're dealing with and how they'll take it. It can also help to break it down to a monthly increase, so it doesn't look like such a big amount...say your current salary is $50,000/year and you are looking for a 5% raise. That's an extra $2500/year or a just a measly $208/month ;)
Know Your Industry
Do a little research and figure out what other people doing a similar job to you get paid. This will help you nail down a number and keep you in the right ballpark. That's the second baseball analogy I've used in this post, I must have the Blue Jays on the brain or something!
Obviously, this goes without saying, but you should have a pretty good idea of whether or not you're doing a good job. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you're consistently screwing up or making bad decisions, then it's probably not the best time to ask for a raise. Put in a few solid months of good work and then reconsider.
Take No for an Answer, and then Work Harder
You don't always get what you want, it's a fact of life. If you do all of the above and the answer is still a no take a deep breath and don't freak out. It could have nothing to do with you and simply be that the company doesn't have the budget for raises this year. Ask what you can do going forward to make it more likely you'll get a raise next time around. This will make your boss see that you're still willing to work hard and not just go and pout.
Your employment package often isn't made up solely of your salary. Maybe your company provides employee benefits, matches your RRSP contributions or is even willing to pay for some schooling. Know what's available to you and take advantage. If they're paying for benefits then treat yourself to a massage every so often and if you aren't taking advantage of a matching savings plan...well, you're nuts (see my rant here). All of these can also be factors that you can use in your salary negotiations. If there's a course you feel would make you more valuable to your employer bring it up and see if they'll cover the cost. There's also vacation days you can bring into play. If you aren't able to get a raise in salary, maybe you can get a few extra vacation days thrown into the mix.