Do you Deserve a Raise?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It’s the age old question that was actually answered before it was even asked. If you really want to know whether the chicken or the egg came first you can find the definitive answer in the first few pages of the Bible. 

Now that we have solved that one lets move on to another age old question. What comes first, a raise or the work that earns you one. In other words, when should you ask for a raise?

I should probably admit up front that I have no personal experience in asking for a raise. I have never asked for a raise in my entire career. I have always assumed that whatever employer I was working for paid me some combination of what they thought I was worth and what they could afford to pay me. I’ve always understood that the equation was probably more weighted on the “afford” side then the “worth” side. That’s called business.

I accepted that combination when I accepted the job and so long as the workload or responsibility didn’t change substantially and the company kept paying me, I kept working. 

It has never made sense to me to alter the agreement just because I wanted to spend more. I get that a person’s situation can change and they truly need more money to meet their needs. I don’t get the people who think that just because it’s been “a while” since their last raise that they are somehow owed one.

I also know that my personal stance on asking for a raise is just one more way I’m a little different than many people. There are in fact legitimate reasons for some people to ask for a raise. Here’s just a few….

If all your peers at work are receiving raises it may be time to ask for one yourself. If conversations with colleagues and friends have made you aware of the fact the your skills and qualifications are increasing in demand then it’s possible that your compensation should too.

You can do something better than almost anyone else. There are surely lots of people who can do what you can but if you can do it better than most of them then you might consider asking to be compensated better too.

You’re receiving offers from competitive companies that are higher than your current pay. While money isn’t the only consideration it is an important one. There are many valid reasons for staying at your current organization for less money but repeated higher offers may indicate the “market” for your skills has changed. You should strike while the iron is hot and ask for a raise.

You are no longer enjoying your work. NO! This is not a reason to ask for a raise, in fact, it’s a reason to turn one down. If you do not enjoy your work then you are most assuredly not fully engaged. You are still being paid what the company committed to pay you but you’re no longer keeping your end of the bargain. 

If you’re a person of integrity then you must either recommit to your work or you must find another job. Receiving full pay for partial work is basically stealing. I know it’s not often thought of that way but that is what it is. If you’re certain that you’ve earned a raise then ask for one but don’t assume a raise will turn a poor work situation into a good one. 

You’re not doing anyone any favors, yourself or your company, by staying in a job that you are not committed to performing at your full capabilities. Find another place to work where you can be committed and ask that company for a raise.


Do You Deserve a Raise?

Did you pay attention to the title of this post? It isn’t do you WANT a raise and it isn’t do you NEED a raise. The question at hand is do you DESERVE a raise.

I should begin by sharing my own philosophy regarding raises. If you’ve accepted a job and the functions of that job remain pretty much as the were when you started then you most likely don’t deserve a raise. You certainly aren’t owed one. Private companies are not required to give you a raise just because it costs more to live. They give you a raise to keep you from leaving, the better the employment market the better the raises they give out.

You accepted a position knowing full well what the compensation was. If the company that hired you hasn’t changed the job or your responsibilities in the job why should you suddenly be paid more? If the company suddenly informed you that they were cutting your pay, just cause, you would be outraged. Well, it works both ways. 

Now, let’s back up to that wants and needs deal. Your odds of receiving a raise just because you need one are not very good. Telling your boss that you need more money to maintain a lifestyle that you can’t afford isn’t very smart. It’s as if you were to walk into work and announce “I’m a crappy money manager so give me more to manage poorly.” We would never say it like that but you should know a whole lot of managers will hear it that way. 

Wanting a raise is also a poor reason to ask for one. Wanting a raise just because a co-worker received one is even worse. You have no real idea of why that co-worker received a raise. This is YOUR raise request and the reasons for it need to focus solely on you. In nearly every single instance comparing yourself to a co-worker will go poorly for you. You look like a whiner, especially if your boss believes your co-worker is doing a better job than you. 

There are times however when asking for a raise is appropriate. If your responsibilities have greatly expanded or you have taken on tasks that were never talked about during the interview process then you darn well should be asking for a raise. Just make sure you do it the right way! 

Plan on talking to your manager as early as three months before salary reviews. Don’t wait to “see what you get” and then try to swim upstream to get a decision reversed. Proactive people get raises, those who wait it out don’t. 

Make a completely honest assessment of your performance. Prepare a list of your accomplishments over the past several months. The more detailed information about your successes the better.

Gather market data for similar positions. It’s a good idea to know what the pay scale is for your position. Spend some time researching the average salary for your job. Try to get as close as possible to an accurate comparison by looking at organizations in the same location and of similar size. Your HR department likely already has this info so you should have it too.

Map your skills against what the organization values. Let your manager know that you, like all business professionals, are aware of the market value of your position and you believe you are deserving of a raise.

Do you like getting ultimatums? Neither does your boss or company. Never, never go in with guns blazing, almost any approach you can use is better than that. This is a business discussion, not a gripe session. Keep your request positive and know going in exactly what amount your raise needs to be in order to be acceptable. 

If you deserve a raise and don’t get it then you have some decisions to make, just remember, there is more to success than the size of your paycheck.