Don't Dream of Asking for a Raise

 

"Success Happens When Preparedness Meets Opportunity" -Steven Spielberg

You can actually ask for a raise any time you want. No way . . . Yes way. This is one of those rules that is not in the employee handbook. Oh, there is something in there about performance reviews; when, why and how they happen. It's usually written to be ambiguous, open ended and uniform for "fairness" throughout the organization. This allows managers to have a very wide latitude in determining who, when and for what reasons a raise is given. It gives managers the authority to make judgment calls. With that single thought in mind, who says a person can't ask for a raise in between those predetermined times. How about a raise right after your 3 month probation of starting a job? How about a raise every 8 months, instead once a year etc.)?

Warning: If you're satisfied with what you currently earn, based on the work you do, then read no further. If 35,000 people say it can't be done and 1 person achieves it, who's right?


The hardest part of asking for a raise is just deciding to go for it. It's just that simple.
 
Asking for a raise is not exclusive to employees. Self employed consultants or companies that provide services to a client can ask for a raise, as well. Why? Because it's another unwritten rule we are made to believe does not exist. If it were in writing, then everybody would ask for a raise whenever they determined they deserved one. Now we can't have that, can we?


Don't Even Dream of Asking for a Raise . . . Verbally. 

 
If you ask for a raise verbally, it makes "No" come faster than "Yes". A verbal request isn't taken as seriously as a written request. This type of sensitive conversation "never happened", if it is not put in writing. A verbal request for a raise provides too many opportunities for Mr. Excusitist to appear. Putting the request in writing still may not be enough to get you closer to "Yes". Unless you take time to analyze, plan, and document before putting your request in writing, asking for a raise is usually a disappointing exercise in futility.


Analyze <> Plan <> Document your way to a raise.
AnalyzePerform a self assessment covering the period of time since your last review/raise. Carefully review your job description or scope of work. Answer the questions below. It's crucial to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself: 1. Have I exceeded the expectations on each responsibility assigned to me? Which responsibilities have I only met the expectation? Why? What can I do to improve? 2. Is my area running lean with limited staff resources causing me to do more than my share of work? When have I performed above an beyond the call of duty? 3. What accomplishments have I achieved since my last review/raise? List them. What have I done that saved time, money or improved productivity/team morale / customer service /profits / departmental success / made my manager look good? Have I received any written testimonials from other clients, customers, co-workers or managers / executives? 
Plan
The time to ask for a raise can be tactical in execution, but it doesn't have to be. Since there is no set rule for asking for a raise, timing has no set rule either. Give yourself at least 3 month intervals, before making your case each time. Be prepared to negotiate your pay raise. Ask for more than you are willing to settle for. If you want a 10% raise, ask for a 15% raise. Similar to haggling with a street vendor, this leaves room for negotiating. Never give away your bottom line. If you only end up with 5%, you're ahead because you received a raise before the rule book said you were supposed to get it Try it again in 3 more months. Anything is negotiable.

When are good times to ask for a raise?


- During a hiring freeze.
- When you and your manager are getting along well.
- When 3 months have passed since you last raise/review.
- When someone in your department gets laid off or leaves.
- Right after you or your manager comes back from vacation.
- Have you been voted employee of the month?
- When your manger or co-workers give you credit on a project well done.
- When the department or manager receives recognition.
Any time is a good time, as long as you do your homework to prepare your case. 
Document
Insure you have enough documentation to back up your request. I never try to waste brain power trying to remember anything I can look up. Keep a journal. Every few days or once a week, make entries of accomplishments. Exceptional things that happen at work or whatever you feel will help your cause in requesting a raise over the next 3 months, is what you enter into your journal. The journal also covers you, in cases where deficiencies may be identified by your manager. The journal may indicate you were doing a particular task or project which is why you could not complete the task being questioned. 

Regular journal entries will make it easier to justify, in writing, why you feel you deserve a raise. If all you do results in a "No" anyway, have no fear. Develop the attitude of the world's greatest sales people. Then try again in another 3 months. After all, no one ever died from hearing the word "No". The person saying "No" figures they probably won't hear from you again, until it's time for them to do your performance review. This is another unwritten rule. 

Ask yourself "Based on my current performance and accomplishments, Do I really deserve to have to wait a whole year for a raise?" Who made up that rule?
 
P.S. - Copy your manager's boss (s/he is also your boss) when you submit your request. You don't have anything to lose and you might get a serious champion for your cause.