This past week I asked my boss for a fairly sizable raise. I’ve been with this company for over 5 years now and thought it was time to “ante-up and kick-in” (as Denzel Washington’s character boldly declared in Glory) and make a request.
Needless to say, it was not easy. I haven’t been that nervous in years. The whole day I was rehearsing what I was going to say, how I was going to say it and even the questions or objections I might receive from my boss. I even had Mr. Self-Doubt come for a visit, saying things like, “aw, you don’t deserve this raise – what are you thinking, asking for so much?” “don’t you know there are thousands without jobs – and you’re asking for more money?” “you should be grateful you just have a job“. I could go on – but I’ll spare you the gory details of my thought life.
And so – like I’ve seen before in my journey – things in our minds often have greater scale and consequence than what actually plays out in real-life. I made it through the request without losing my job and my boss received it as well as to be expected.
My preparation for that raise didn’t start the day or two before asking. No, it actually started the first week I started with the company, some five years prior to the simple creation of a Word document, entitled “Comments“.
Here’s a few other things you’ll need to in preparation for your next review/raise request.
- Comment (or compliment) sheet. I first picked this up from a consultant who was working at a design firm I was employed at. I saw a printout of “kudos” she’d received from some of my co-workers, by the printer. Soon after I was keeping track of all the compliments and atta-boy’s I’d gotten with who said it, what it was in reference to, and the date. Even if you don’t have a comment via email or in a letter – you can still jot it down if it was received verbally. These comments will serve you well down the road when you go to your boss for a raise. They show that you are a valuable member of the team and that others in the company are noticing and appreciating your efforts as well. The compliment sheet is great for many of us who are too bashful about bragging about ourselves.
- Money saved sheet. Most good companies are out to make customer’s lives better – as well as improving their bottom line. If you have a job where you can reference you’re saving the employer X amount of dollars – all the better for you. In my case, I can put a cost estimate together of what many of my job functions would cost if my employer were to outsource them. You may have a job where you are explicitly saving money for your company. Perhaps you’re in Quality or Accounting. You’ll likely be able to note some real figures that you can use down-the-line when your review comes up. Make sure you have a document solely for these activities.
- Comp sheet. Another important item to have before requesting a raise is something similar to what you’d have when going shopping for a home – a comparables sheet. What are other people making in an identical role, in the city you live in? You can find a lot of this date via Salary.com, GlassDoor.com or Payscale.com.
- A pulse on the climate. Is your company currently struggling? Or, are they coming off one of their better years? Are they hiring or firing folks? Have you been getting more and more projects or less? Believe it or not – timing is a crucial thing to consider when asking for a raise. You’ll need to be the judge of this and “feel out” the climate at your workplace. As a general rule – I would try to do it after any of the following: a big company win, a large successful project you’ve completed, towards the end of the week and (but not least) before budgets are solidified. Of course, you probably can’t time your review or request perfectly – but these are a few things to keep in mind before approaching your superior.
- Exceeded expectations. Ever since being unemployed and knowing what it feels like – I’ve tried to make sure I’m a “value-add” employee at the places I work. That I am adding to my job – taking initiative and creating real value with my work. I know we all have lulls in our employment at jobs that grow mundane – but overall – there should be a sense of going the extra mile and doing all you can for your employer. This is really a win-win situation. Your employer is happy with a good employee and you will likely be rewarded – both in terms of having the satisfaction of a “job well done” and future rewards (ie, raises, commendations).
What are some other things you’ve done in preparation for a raise request? Any other recommendations for those seeking a raise?