By Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Think you're worth more than you're being paid? Join the club. But how can you secure yourself a raise? Here are some tips to help you renegotiate your pay.
Step It Up
"When you take a job, you've pretty much determined your pay track [for that employer]," says Lynda Ford, president of Ford Group, a human resources consulting firm based in Rome, New York. "Your pay is determined the day you accept the offer. To change tracks, you've got to do some things that get you noticed.
Ford suggests approaching your pay renegotiations with your employer's interest in mind. Ask yourself: What would make your employer want to pay you more?
Focus on Your Value
When you're ready to approach your boss about a raise, sell your accomplishments. Sallie Backius, vice president of human resources for Lutheran Care of Clinton, New York, suggests you stress your value to your employer. "Reflect on the experience you bring to the organization," recommends Backius. "Remind your employer how you've contributed to the bottom line, cut costs and increased productivity."
A written record of your accomplishments can help in this effort. Backius encourages workers to build their own personnel files. "Be sure to give your company copies of certificates or completed coursework as well as copies of thank-you letters received from customers," she says. Documenting your worth will likely make it easier for your boss to get approval for a raise.
Be Proactive and Offer Your Boss Options
Ford reminds employees not to back their bosses into corners. She believes it is best to provide your supervisor with options. "You might want to say to your boss, for instance, 'I'll take on extra responsibility for an additional amount per hour,'" suggests Ford. "Or ask, 'if I went to community college and further honed my skills or learned new valuable skills, would you be willing to pay for my classes?'" With any luck, your boss will pick the option that's number one on your list.
Providing options expresses your interest in your employer's overall bottom line, not just your paycheck. And it establishes your proactive approach, which will likely indicate to your boss that you may be worth the raise.
Don't Beg or Assume Entitlement
"Avoid crawling into the office on your knees and groveling," advises Ford. "On the other hand, don't enter renegotiations with the attitude that you are so great, they better give you a raise."
You might be surprised by your supervisor's responses to these approaches. Thinking that just because you've been somewhere for a long time means you deserve a raise is not a good thing, according to Backius. In fact, just the opposite might be true. You may be marking your time, and your boss knows it.
Mind the Timing
Know the cyclical nature of your particular business. For example, if you work in retail, you don't want to go in and ask for a raise in December, because your employer is focused on servicing customers during this busy time of the year.
"And don't ask for a raise a month or two before or after your automatic raise," advises Ford. "Your boss will tell you to wait until the right time or will remind you that you just received a raise."
Recover from a Poor Renegotiation
Suppose your boss turns you down because of how you handled the renegotiation. Is there a way to recover? Ford suggests setting up another appointment and taking responsibility for how poorly you handled the situation. Be cordial, thank your boss for his time and keep a positive attitude. Hopefully, he will come around.
Asking for a raise is never easy. However, you will increase your chances of success if you time your renegotiation right, go in prepared and focus on the value you bring to your organization.