Get A Raise At Work – 3 Steps

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

There are 3 important steps you can take to get a raise at work – even though the economy is in a rut. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can’t ask your employer for more money while unemployment levels are through the roof. Quite the contrary; it is exactly because the economy is so poor that your employer will be more amenable to giving you a raise – if you play your cards right.

Here is how to do it.

1. Gather Data

Your first step to snagging a raise at work is to figure out what your competition is earning. What do other companies pay people who do what you do? One way to do this is to go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics ,, Erieri,.com or
Find out what the average pay scale is for people who do what you do in your part of the country. Get as local as you can because pay varies greatly depending on location. In order to do that, use social media to find out about what other people are being paid. Also, consider the level of skill and experience when trying to get a bead on what you should be making.

Another great place to mine information is and possibly Craigslist. Find out what employers are willing to pay for staff with your qualifications.

While you are gathering data, find out what you could earn at other firms both in and out of your industry. You might have special expertise that sets you apart from the competition (and makes you even more valuable to your employer). That information is going to be very important to you later on as you’ll see.

2. Change Your Shoes

Let’s assume that you’ve done your homework and you’ve determined that you are being underpaid. That’s great but you still have a lot of work to do before you march into your boss’s office to demand an increase.

First, think about your request from your employer’s standpoint rather than your own. Your boss doesn’t really care if you need more money. And she doesn’t care about your problems. She cares about her problems. Your mindset must shift completely if you want to be successful on this mission.

3. Become a Star

In order to get a raise, you’re going to have to earn it. And the best way to earn a raise is to solve business problems your employer faces. Obviously, the only way to solve your employer’s problems is to first understand what those problems are.

Understand that your boss expects you to do a great job. Just because you show up and do what you are expected to do probably won’t be enough to merit a pay raise. You’re going to have to go the extra mile.

Think about the problems your boss faces. Have you solved them? How? In what way has you’re your unique approach helped the company in unexpected ways? Write your answers down. This list will be the justification for your raise request. If you can’t answer these questions, you may not have added enough value to merit a bump in pay yet.

In that case, take your boss out for coffee and interview her. Find out what her problems are and how you can help solve them. Then deliver the solutions.

4. Prep For The Conversation

Once you have identified how you’ve solved problems and added value for the company look for a good time to speak with your boss privately. Ask to speak with her and tell her why. This way she’ll be prepared and in the right mindset.

It’s important to emphasize tact. If you see that your boss is having a particularly stressful day, you might want to put off your request for a day or two. Make sure everyone has a clear head and clean plate.

Since you really want your employer to focus, prepare an agenda for the meeting. It should include:

a. Added value you provide to the company.
b. What other people in your position are earning (if it’s more than you earn).
c. What new problems you’d like to tackle.
d. The increase you feel is fair.

5. Have the TALK

Sit down and go through the agenda. By providing all this information in a methodical manner, you make it easy for your employer to make a positive decision. By showing facts and figures of what other people are making you are also planting a seed in your employer’s mind. While you haven’t threatened to leave if you don’t get the job, you’ve demonstrated that you understand the market for your services. Any supervisor with a lick of sense will understand that if she doesn’t come across, she runs the risk of losing you to another company.

By presenting the information in this way, you are also solving a problem for your employer. In a rough economy it’s even more important to have people who are effective and who solve problems. She doesn’t want to lose you. And she certainly doesn’t want to have go through the expense of hiring and training someone new. You are the resource that allows your company to survive. In a tough economy, having the right staff can mean the difference between having a successful business or not.

You can see that the secret to getting a raise at work is in your preparation. Spend a little time up front. Take this endeavor seriously. The upside is that even if you don’t get the raise immediately, you’ll be setting yourself apart because of your professional approach. That’s going to pay off sooner or later.

How did you get your last increase in pay? What would you do differently?


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Daisy@Everything Finance September 21, 2012 at 7:47 PM

I work for the government so we don’t get to negotiate for our raises. We are paid on wage steps. We get one small raise per year provided that our performance was adequate. It’s nice to not have to worry about negotiations etc, but it limits our earning power.


Neal Frankle September 23, 2012 at 11:01 AM

To me that would be a downside but there are many upsides to working for the government. For starters, I believe reading several times that the average government employee earns much more than her private employer counter part. Would you agree?


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