Should You Ask for that Raise?

Have you been thinking about asking for a raise but not quite sure how to bring up the subject with your boss? Here are a few things to think about first:

Forget the old criteria for granting raises.

Long gone are the days when seniority, years of service, education, or experience determined your salary. Instead, employers are basing their decisions on whether an employee adds value to the organization. In essence, you and all other employees in the company are profit centres. That is, you must generate benefits to your employer that exceed what you cost. So before going into the meeting, make sure you can document your contributions.

Don’t confuse effort with contribution.

While often there is a correlation between hard work and positive results, this isn’t always the case. Simply putting in the hours, in itself, does not always mean you’re adding value.

Develop a clear sense of what you’re worth to your employer.

Many people do not (or cannot) accurately assess their worth to the overall organization. Therefore, before asking for a raise, answer the following questions truthfully:

While you might be valuable in your own department, is your department valuable to the company? How much does your department contribute to the strategic goals of the company? If you left the company, how difficult would it be for the company to replace you? What knowledge and skills do you have that others—inside and outside the company—do not have?

Ask for a raise only if you’re worth more than you’re making.

While this may sound obvious, some people do incredibly foolish things that hurt their careers. If it turns out you’re not worth more than you make, develop a plan to make yourself more valuable by making yourself accountable for results. For example, if you’re in charge of a project, make sure there are concrete, measurable targets on which you and your boss agree. Likewise, if you have accomplishments over the past year of which you are particularly proud, be sure to measure their value.

Only when you’ve demonstrated a positive contribution to the company will your worth go up.