As the end of the year approaches, time seems to fly by a little faster than it does the rest of the year. One often, non-exciting event, your annual performance review. You may be saying to yourself, “it’s the same boring process, my boss tells me I’m a great asset to the team, we review the bubble chart of where I rank, and at the end, I get the generic increase of 2% or 3%”. What if I told you that it’s okay to ask for more? At least if you think that you’re better than average.
Why I Think It’s Important
Pay raises are a big deal! Increases you receive earlier in your career make a huge difference over the course of your working career. Not only does it increase your immediate income, but all future pay increases are now based off of a higher number. Same goes for changing companies, your new company always tends to want to hear your previous pay before making their offer to you.
Know Your Situation
You have to know at least generally about a few things before you make the big ask:
- Is the company doing well financially? If your company is struggling, they’re more likely to make cuts than they are to increase wages.
- Does your position have a wide pay range? Some companies cap salaries based on position. If you find out your pay has hit that cap, then you have some soul-searching to do. It means if you don’t receive a promotion, you’ll never get a meaningful raise the rest of your life.
- Who you’re meeting with? Preferably you want someone who knows you, if that’s not the case, you need to be armed with a lot more data (see: How To Support Your Request).
- What are other benefits that may be available? Maybe they can’t give you a regular pay increase, but they may have other valuable offerings: stock options are huge with technology companies, extra vacation days, or being added to an incentive plan that allows you to earn additional income as you hit certain goals.
How To Support Your Request
Inventory your accomplishments. Most people don’t keep track of this during the year, but it’s definitely worth looking back on the year to reflect on your highlights. Think about the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When, & Why). Be as specific as possible, especially if you’re not meeting with a manager who would have been aware of your accomplishments. Write them down and bring them with you for your meeting.
What If You Don’t Think You Deserve A Raise?
That’s awesome! It’s awesome because you’re being honest with yourself, which is really hard for most people to do. Is that how you want your story to go? Why do you think you haven’t taken the initiative to deserve a raise? Are you where you’re supposed to be? What do you have to do to get there?
Here are a couple tips if you want to earn a raise, but don’t know how to go about making that happen.
- Ask your manager. It may go something like this “ I really value the work we do here at XYZ, but I want to have a bigger impact. What can I do to position myself for future growth opportunities?” See how I didn’t mention a raise?
- Dress up a little bit. You don’t have to look like you own the company, but look as though you care about what you do.
- Set SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable (aim high, most people are capable of more than they give themselves credit for), Realistic, & Timely
- Track your accomplishments. Use the measurability of your goals to keep track so you don’t have to do a last minute brainstorm before you walk into your annual review meeting.
- Get a mentor. Having a position-specific mentor is a great start, but once you master what you need to know, then you can benefit from using mentors with differing backgrounds than yours.