Career Talk with Paul Eze: How to Ask for a Raise and Get It

Career Talk with Paul Eze is a weekly series on Bellanaija bringing insights, ideas on career growth, personal improvement and work issues for graduates and career individuals in collaboration with Ngcareers.com.

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Do you feel like you have been doing a great work consistently over the past months or years and should be ripe for a pay rise? Do you believe that despite your work the management may not just give you a raise until you ask for it? Then you probably should go ahead and ask for a salary increase.

Asking your employer for a raise doesn’t guarantee you anything positive from them. There are several reasons your employer might not feel like giving you the raise you want: they don’t think you’ve done enough to deserve it; the economy is going down; cashflow is tight, and so on. So how do you effectively approach your employer for a raise and get it?

Think Like the Employer
Today, apparently no company wants to be handing out money. If you’re going to make them do it then you must understand how they think and what could move them to hand over more money to you.

An employer primarily will only reward excellent performance that plays a role in boosting company growth and revenues. They also want to be sure they are not going to give you a raise and not get even better productivity in return.

If you think like an employer before asking for a raise you will also understand the importance of data and analytics. Do you see why there is always a target to be met? By how much have you exceeded the minimum work or target expected of you? If you can have the data at your finger tips the better for your argument.

Thinking like an employer will help you base your arguments on the things that matter to the employer. No socialist thinking here! Just real data and information on what you have brought to the company since you were hired or since your last promotion plus specific information on how getting a raise will spur you to achieve more.

The premise is simple; employers don’t care about all the socialist bullshit lazy employees think. They are in business to survive and make big tons of money. Thinking like them or trying to picture their motivation and reaction will help you make a better argument.

Do You Have Leverage?
In most sectors it isn’t easy to get a raise unless you have the leverage. The leverage is anything that gives you a leg up, a bargaining power. Leverage can be in form of a job offer from another company (whether direct competitor or not), being a star employee (pulling in the best results consistently) etc.

However if you must approach the employer with the offer of a job from another company as a leverage you must be careful. Many will not see it kindly and in fact a few might see it as a dark manipulative act (you wanting to push them to give you more money out of fear of losing you). Then also you should be sure the job offer is already cast in concrete as the boss might want to test your resolve and insist you should go for the new job because they won’t or can’t give you a raise. If this happens then you must be ready to walk.

Know What is Obtainable
It doesn’t help your cause if you are going to ask your boss for a raise and you make a demand very much above the industry rate average. Unless you are a superman employee and they will do anything to keep you in the company.

And since that likely is not the case you will need to have the right information on what others in similar positions could be earning. The more moderate your demand is the higher the possibility that it would be met.

Doing the Asking
This actually is where the ball rolls to a stop for most people. Is it enough or even okay to send a letter asking for a raise? Some experts argue that simply writing a letter denies you the opportunity to make a case that could appeal to the human senses of the employer. So by all means request for a meeting from the person who could act or request for action on your request. When you have a face to face with your big boss then what?

Know Your Company’s policies
Does the company require annual performance reviews before they actually determine if you are good for a raise? Consult your employee handbook or talk to someone at HR so you have the right information before going in for a talk.

Building a Case
Prepare a list of your accomplishments in the past year. Be definite and don’t come with a long boring essay on how you have worked your ass off for the company. Simply outline data driven list of notable and very relevant stuff you have achieved so far in your work. If you have helped increase userbase or revenues state clearly what you have brought on board.

Here are some posers you could use to develop your case:

Did you complete or help to complete a tough project? And get positive results from it?
Did you work extra hours or meet an urgent deadline? Are you continuing to demonstrate this type of commitment?
Did you take initiative? In what ways?
Did you go beyond the call of duty? In what ways?
Did you save the company time or money?
Did you improve any systems or processes?
Did you support or train others? “A rising tide lifts all boats,” you can bet that most bosses will want to keep people who make others work better

It could help if you can memorise the list and tell your boss verbally. You can later on back it up with a copy. Outline your proposed future value to the company.

Timing is important

Aside from how you ask the other very important factor to determine your success is in the timing of your asking. It’s all about the timing.

Here are some tips on the timing for asking

- Don’t ask too soon (you must have worked for at least a year with the organisation)
– Ask when your value is high: choose successful moments to ask for a raise such as when you just pulled off a huge sale, when you just organised a successful conference for the company, when you just did some fantastic work that everybody can’t stop talking about etc.
– Don’t ask when the company just took losses or the finances are taking a hit.
– If possible ask before the budget for a new business year gets decided.
– Don’t ask for a pay rise based only on overtime worked. You didn’t expect you’d go early everyday did you?
– Ask for a meeting on Thursday; for some reasons I don’t know it seems the best day to do this kind of talk. Monday will be too busy for the week just starting, Friday you may not get the attention of the boss.

Tips & Ideas for Asking

- Present yourself well
– State your happiness at working with the firm and doing your best
– Follow up with discussing your achievements. Be brief and restrict to facts and figures
– Be specific with what you are asking for: tell your boss how much more money you want to make in percentage terms (eg 10% of your current pay)
– Don’t be aggressive, be diplomatic
– Whatever you do don’t threaten your employer
– When your boss hears you out his response might be one of the following; yes, no or give me time
– Thank your boss for his patience and time in hearing you out no matter what his response is.
– If his response is positive (yes) thank him and hold him onto his word. Something like ‘I trust you will do as you say’ might do
– If he asks you to give him sometime then certainly you must be patient. Perhaps he cannot take the decision alone. Let him know you are grateful for his consideration and are willing to wait for his response.
– If he says no that doesn’t mean you go sour on him. That your employer turned down your request today doesn’t mean he wouldn’t consider giving you a raise in the coming months. Your reaction to the ‘no’ will matter a lot for future consideration of your request. So don’t walk out of the room and slam the door or your boss would think he was right not to give you the raise.
– In the event of a ‘no’ ask your boss what you can do differently as this shows your willingness to listen to and take his opinions.
– Keep doing stellar work and ask again for a raise in some months time. If you have consistently performed and then ask a second time your chances of getting a ‘yes’ will be enhanced.

After the Asking
Despite the response of your employer during your talk send a thank you message (email or note) to your boss showing your gratitude for the conversation. If he had turned down your request the thank you email will prove to him that you took it graciously and are not bitter with him or the organisation.

Be Persistent
Now you have made it public that you want a raise your boss will certainly have it in his consciousness. He will be deliberating the possibility that you may leave the company for any better offer. He will also be deciding if you are too valuable to be let go. To further push him towards making a decision decide to put in even more solid and spectacular work. Set a date in future to ask him again but before then make sure your work does the rest of the argument for you.

If Nothing Happens
If you work at your best for many months and still nothing comes you may consider quietly looking for other options elsewhere while still doing your best at the organisation. Ideally it should be better if you stay and keep at it until you get the raise you deserve but when you don’t see that forthcoming you might start networking to find other opportunities quietly.

If you follow the above ideas and your work is of great value to your organisation then certainly you should get the raise even if falls below what you are asking for.

Photo Credit: canadianimmigrant.ca

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Paul Eze is a co-founder of Ngcareers, a smarter way to find jobs and career insights in Nigeria. You can connect with him on Twitter Here.  Ngcareers is Nigeria’s top jobs and career site for career individuals and professionals. Discover jobs that match your interest from thousands of new jobs published each week and find career insights in your industry. Using Ngcareers is FREE and EASY; Click Here to Join

6 Comments on Career Talk with Paul Eze: How to Ask for a Raise and Get It
  • Blessmyheart December 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Nice article. I doubt this is applicable in most organisations except one-man businesses though. I believe most companies have standard compensation policies and annual raises are given across board.
    Nevertheless, this could work for negotiating a promotion too.

  • Temidun December 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    This was much needed!

  • Laide December 23, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Lol…it is either no one wants no raise or they have all gotten one..#reason for no comments#

  • Ib December 23, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    I say “YES” to thid article.

  • Twale December 23, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    I actually wrote a report, requesting for a pay rise, the
    top Oga said, she would like to offer me a pay rise, however, she
    will be leaving soon and she cc’d her subordinates, she told them
    to sort it out for me. As at the time of writing this comment, they
    are still in the process of sorting it out. I obtained a job in
    another company, where I told them the amount that I want to earn,
    whilst taking into consideration the high cost of living.

  • Azees Ishola December 25, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I believe most established companies have a structure in place for pay rise based on performance and duration in the firm. This tips will still work for one man business. How valuable and productive you are in a firm is all that makes the difference. Nice article to read.

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