Asking for a raise — what they didn't tell you!

Observer writer

Sunday, June 23, 2019

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The first time I thought about asking for a raise was after seeing my first-ever pay cheque right out of school. The last time it occurred to me to ask for a raise was after seeing my payslip last month after eight years of employment. Regardless of what you do, where you work and how much you earn, you will likely always think you should be paid more. Whether you deserve it is debatable and that's just the cold, hard truth.

Asking for a raise is never an easy thing to do and what most people tend to get wrong is to confuse their need for a raise with actually earning one. My first job as a journalist taught me fiscal responsibility like nothing else to date.

It wasn't because I was surrounded by numbers and experts all day but because I recognised that what I offered as a young reporter with less than a year's experience was not worth a raise.

Actually, if I am being fair, I was better paid than most of my former classmates who left university and ended up working at companies that either lowballed them or exploited their need for immediate employment.

I was fortunate enough to have had:

1: options to choose from and

2: a little wiggle room to negotiate my salary. Most were not that lucky, but I deviate.

The first time I seriously considered asking for a raise was a little over a year before I actually asked for one and that's because asking for a raise is a tenuous position to be in, which must be navigated with shrewdness, lest you find yourself in the position of being turned down or worse being told that you are fairly compensated for the value you bring to the company.

It is rare that an employer sees and acknowledges the contribution of an employee and voluntarily offers a raise and or promotion as a reward.

The employee is not only charged to demonstrate their value, but to eventually also request that they are adequately rewarded for same.

Do bear in mind that it is always a numbers game. It is unlikely that an employer will have funds just sitting around to offer raises at any given time. Increased compensation is something that has to be timed and justified, the same as any other expenditure by the company. So, asking for an increase because your bills are growing is never an adequate reason. Be prepared to justify your request with accomplishments and hard figures of what you have done.

Additionally, fulfilling the obligations of your role is not a reason to get paid more as you are meeting the minimum expected performance of your job; you already get paid for that! Employers want to see the 'more' that you do; the extra that you bring to the table which surpasses the routine obligations of your function. Going beyond the call of duty, executing additional chores, exceeding targets and expectations and achieving those results consistently are the things which get noticed.

That year I look between wanting a raise and asking for one to not just prove my worth to my employer but to showcase my strengths, achievements in growing revenue and invaluable contribution to the general output.

I assumed additional duties, attended more events, took on increased responsibilities that involved departments outside my own and assisted other members of my team wherever possible. But most importantly, I made sure these efforts were always being shared along the way instead of trying to build a case in a five-minute meeting crammed between lunch and preparing annual budgets.

What's more, when your request for a raise is being made, it is important not to focus on the now but to look towards your future and the impact you will have later. Being short-sighted is a sure way of turning off a supervisor from any serious consideration for a raise. I say this because the possibility of being told “no” is very real. Nonetheless, your employer will want to know that should your request be denied the same work ethic will continue to be demonstrated until they are able to revisit that conversation.

If you are denied, don't be afraid to ask questions regarding that decision and to find out what you can do to possibly change that position by the next review period.

An open and frank discussion to craft a plan that includes goals and intermediate progress check-ins will only be to your benefit.

Continue to work hard and be so good that in your next request for a raise you will be undeniable.

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