Getting the Raise You Deserve

Professional tips for getting the raise you deserve.

He Reports

Get Paid What You’re Worth

Expert tips on how to ask for and get the raise you deserve

-John McKee

woman holding cashWe’ve all done it – played that movie over and over in our minds of our confident entry into the boss’s office and asking for – no, demandingthat elusive pay raise. However deserved a raise might be, the scene often plays out far differently, with many relegating themselves to the reality of budgetary discretion.

Yes, asking for a raise can be tricky, as there are so many factors that come into play: the business culture, company policies regarding regular job assessments and wage reviews, and the subjectivity of your boss. Asking for a raise can be more than anxiety provoking … it can be downright depressing. So, what are we to do?

For those employed in companies with policies regarding wage reviews, the first thing is to find out how frequently raises are supposed to occur. In most large companies, it will be an annual activity, with the HR department providing supervisors with guidelines for how to appraise individuals and what type of increases are appropriate based on how the employee is rated for performance, attitude and potential growth on the job in the future.

If you are involved in this type of organization, you should take advantage of the formality and regularity of the wage/performance review annual event by preparing a self-assessment of your own job performance. This self-appraisal should be honest – if you have areas that could use improvement, you should state exactly what and how you intend to improve, including recommendations for any additional training that could enhance your performance. It is also important you note any and all accomplishments, along with specific measurements and dates, in case the boss overlooks or forgets about those highlights.

Many companies – particularly small or new ones – don’t have formalized policies regarding annual assessments and pay raises. This can be both good and bad. It’s great if the company is led by an enlightened person who recognizes individual contributions and rewards and compensates good employees accordingly. However, those who are not lucky enough to have such intuitive bosses and feel they are not making the kind of money they should be should request a meeting with the boss to specifically discuss performance and commensurate compensation.

It is important not to get overzealous and storm into the boss’s office demanding a raise (as empowering as that fantasy is), as doing so will put the boss in a defensive mode that is neither conducive to a positive discussion nor a good outcome. Simply tell the boss you would like to discuss the subject, and ask when it would be convenient for him or her to do so. Then, prepare! Before the meeting, you should have a complete record of what and how you’ve done since the last raise, citing specific metric results wherever possible, and with dates, to show that your merit is not subjective but rather based on factual performance.

While some may feel this next piece of advice is counterproductive, I do recommend that you offer to give this self-assessment to your boss before the meeting so he or she can understand your point of view and prepare accordingly. By no means is this telling the enemy your strategy, rendering your defeat inevitable. Rather, I believe that in any negotiation – and this is a real negotiation for you – it is best to lay out your cards in an honest and forthright manner.

If the boss wants to keep you happy and on staff, your information will help him or her understand your value in undeniable terms. If, on the other hand, the boss has no intention of rewarding you in a manner that you feel is fair and appropriate, he or she will always find a way to justify that decision. So, providing the boss with your input prior to meeting will only make it easier to find out the ultimate, final outcome – and you can make an educated decision regarding your future with that company.

John McKee, founder and president of, is the author of Career Wisdom and 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot. You can reach him at 720-226-9072 or, or through his web sites at and

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