Some advice on asking for a raise

I am looking for advice on how to ask for a raise. I have found out that I am making less than other people in the same position.

Dear Working Wise: I am looking for advice on how to ask for a raise. I have found out that I am making less than other people in the same position.

I love my job and the company I work for — I don’t want to leave, but I also want to be treated fairly. What should I do? — Fair Wage Wanted

Dear Fair Wage Wanted: No one likes to feel like they are being taken advantage of.

I can’t advise you if you should or should not ask for a raise — only you can decide.

The recession has made asking for a raise difficult — many companies have asked their staff to accept wage freezes and rollbacks this year.

You know your situation best. If you decide you want to proceed and ask for a raise, here are some tips that will help you strengthen your case.

1. Research wages

Find out how your compensation compares to the industry standard. You can do this by talking to other staff, people who work in similar positions in similar companies, and checking with professional associations that conduct salary surveys.

You can also check the 2009 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, which covers more than 400 occupations, at www.alis.alberta./caWageinfo.

2. Build a business case

Raises are given to top performers, not those who “meet expectations.”

How have you lowered costs, increased profits, quality and customer satisfaction, or contributed more than other staff? How will you contribute more to the organization in the future?

Your future contributions are more compelling to your boss than your past ones.

Showing that you have more to offer affirms your commitment to the company, how you will contribute to the bottom line and drives home the message that they want to keep you around. Building a strong business case will help convince both you and your boss that you deserve a raise.

3. Determine how much you want

Use your research to decide how much you want and be prepared with alternatives. If your boss says that he/she can’t afford the raise you’re asking for, ask for a smaller raise, more vacation time, health or retirement benefits, paid parking, training, a company car, stock options, a better job title, etc.

4. Wait for the right time

The best times to ask for a raise are after you’ve received a great performance review, after you’ve just completed a large successful project, or at the beginning of a new fiscal year. Many employers have scheduled pay increments and will not consider any pay adjustments outside these schedules. If your timing is off, you might want to meet with your boss to talk about what you need to do to earn the highest possible raise or bonus.

5. Schedule a meeting

Schedule a meeting with your boss and be sure he understands that you are asking for a raise. Your boss will need to do some research as well to see if she can fit your raise into the budget and what paperwork is required. If you surprise your boss, you’ll probably be told “No,” or “We’ll see.”

6. How to ask

Don’t ask for a raise because you need it — ask for it because you deserve it. Bring your research on wages, past accomplishments and future contributions with you.

Don’t threaten to quit or say you’ve got another job offer. Keep the conversation friendly, positive and constructive. You are a valuable member of the team with big ideas for the future and your compensation has fallen behind your contributions.

7. Handling “Yes”

Thank your boss and show that you appreciate the raise, but don’t go overboard. You were not begging for a raise, you deserved it.

Don’t tell your co-workers that you got a raise. Your boss will not welcome a long line of staff at his/her door asking for a raise for the sole reason that you got one.

8. Handling “No”

If your boss says “No,” continue to be friendly and positive. Tell him/her that you understand and offer your alternatives (e.g., smaller raise, paid parking, etc.)

Ask how you can earn a raise in the future and ask for specific achievements so you can bring these up at your next review. Ask if you can meet again in six months for another salary review and keep your performance level high so you can continue to justify your worth.

Good luck!

Working Wise is compiled weekly by Charles Strachey, a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. Work-related questions can be sent to him at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Working Wise is provided for general information only. Help with specific situations is available through Alberta Employment Standards by calling 1-877-427-3731.

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