It might feel risky right now to ask for a raise. On the one hand, we know that workers in all sectors are in high demand. On the other, funds might be tight, depending on what’s happening at your company. And if you’re permalance or have been working with the same client for a while, looking to renegotiate might leave you without any insight to how your situation will unfold if you ask for more money. There are a lot of factors to consider, but we’re here to help you think through them all.
Good to know: The 2021 labor market
According to the Labor Department, we watched pay increase from an average of .9% to 1.5% from the previous fiscal quarter in September of 2021. This tells us that, on average, employees are demanding higher pay and that employers are working harder to make sure employees are happy with their pay. They don’t want to see what happened in August and September (a record number of people quitting) again. What’s more, we’re expecting pay increases to reach 3% in 2022. The ball is in your court, employees, so take stock in the fact that your employer needs you and your expertise in a more dire way than ever before.
Now, onto your situation...
- Take a look at where you are
Analyze two things: where you are in the company and where you want to be. Envision your future working situation and write down your desires. Asking for a raise takes a lot of preparation and you’ll need to look back before you can look forward.
- First, take stock of all the detailed ways you have directly made an impact on your current team and the company overall. We’ve talked about how to write your resume around these impacts and asking for a raise involves the same amount of detailed analysis. And, hey, this might be a great time to update that resume anyway because if negotiations don't go well, it might be time to start looking.
- Next, research, research research. It might be a long time since you last evaluated your skills and job title against the current average salary in your area. Find out what your salary should be and include it in your reasons for asking for more money. Also, if you’ve been, say, tackling two jobs at once due to the Great Resignation, then you need to remind your employer that you need to be paid accordingly.
- Finally, show how your work warrants more pay, even in a time of severe inflation, by practicing your speech over the details you’ve collected. If you know your company is struggling, though, be prepared for a “not now” and start evaluating when would be a good time to ask again.
- Find the people in your court
You’ve been loyal for a while and it probably shows to your coworkers, mentors and HR reps. Gather the people who’ve got your back and ask them for letters of recommendation. If that’s too formal, simple emails stating their confidence might suffice, depending on how casual your environment is. If you have a mentor, take them out for a virtual or in-person breakfast and chat about your situation at least a few months before you’re thinking about popping the raise question.
- Clarify what you want most
What are you asking for? Do you simply want a 5% cost of living increase (which every full-time employee should ask for this year, BTW) or a full-on promotion? Come up with real-life expectations that are based in real numbers, facts, and testimonials. Also consider additional benefits you want to include in your request. Example: if you are pretty happy with your salary but need a 4-day work week, this could be a great compromise to asking solely for more money. Maybe you need help with student loans? or more parental leave? A raise doesn’t necessarily need to be entirely in the form of dollars, especially within the current economy where employers might not have that much in the bank right now.
- Decide when you’ll ask and start the conversation early
Timing is everything—and your review might be too late to start this conversation (says David Buckmaster, author of Fair Pay). Find out when your company is reevaluating budgets and then plan to talk about your pay at least three to four months beforehand. Another good time to aim for this conversation is during your performance review. But, even with performance reviews, you’ll need to be working to gather the above information, references and raise requests at least three months before your review date.
Asking for a raise will always feel stressful, but you, as a strong employee, have the power to research, schedule time, and ask. It’s more important that you look out for yourself and be willing to compromise, especially if you love your job. If you do find yourself looking for a new place to work, though, we can help with that, too.
But even you don't get that raise... we might be able to help you find something new.