The poor economy has left many people searching for ways to increase their income, eliminate their debt and save money. While paying down debt is always a good idea, there comes a point in every family budget when there is really nothing left to cut. Thus, it’s easy to see why saving money would be a much simpler process if there were more money to work with. So aside from taking on a part-time job, what can be done to increase overall earnings? Perhaps it’s time to consider asking for a raise.
1. Provide Tangible Evidence of Your Value to Your Employer
This is perhaps the single most important determining factor in whether you will be able to get a raise or not. You’ll need to have documented evidence that you have provided extraordinary value to the company that has either saved or made them money in order for your boss to justify spending more money on you. Remember to see it from the company’s perspective: you are a business asset as well as an expense.
To aid in documenting your value to the company in a tangible way, start keeping track of everything you do each day. This will inevitably raise your confidence as the list grows, and allow you to see how much you accomplish in just a year’s time. Before you ask for a raise, pick out a few of your biggest accomplishments and find numbers to back them up. For instance if you helped improve your department’s productivity by completing a particular task, explain to your boss how your project or idea increased productivity by whatever percent, saving the company money in the long run.
2. Do Your Research
When asking for a raise, it’s extremely important that you prepare yourself for negotiations prior to scheduling a meeting with your boss. If you do not know what other professionals in your field are making on average, how will you know the difference between a reasonable request and a laughable pipe dream? Be sure to take into account what other companies, similar to the one you work for, are paying their employees. Larger companies tend to pay more, and different industries often have different salary standards for the same position.
In order to find what to ask for, use a reputable target, like Salary.com, to find out what the industry standard salary is for your position. This will allow you to see the high, low, and median pay in companies similar to where you work, giving you a good starting point for negotiations. You may also want to check the Bureau of Labor Statistics to get a better idea of what industries and careers are in demand versus positions that are in decline. If yours is in decline, it may be more difficult to negotiate higher pay.
3. Improve your skills and qualifications.
This might seem like a “no-brainer,” but improving your skills, and showing your employer why the improvement is an asset to the company can have a huge impact on your ability to get a raise. As you continue your education, or certify your credentials, employers often feel obligated to pay more. Search for any available technical certifications in your field and go get them. You may want to explore the master’s and PhD programs available as well. The real gem here is that if you are unable to negotiate a better salary with your current employer, you have just improved yourself with skills you can take elsewhere, to a company who will pay for highly skilled employees.
Take a look at the formal position description you were hopefully given when you started. Is there any function you might be able to certify, or get additional training for? Consider taking online or evening classes. Many colleges and universities have become increasingly flexible so that working adults can continue their education. Ultimately, the goal is to find ways to improve your value as an employee by industry.
These three crucial tips are imperative to success when negotiating a salary. By proving proof of your value, knowing your industry and position, and improving or formally certifying your existing skills, you are making a strong case to any employer that you are worth the money you are seeking. Be bold, be confident, and remember; the worst thing you can hear is a simple, “no.”
This is a guest post by Brittany Lyons.
Brittany Lyons aspires a life in teaching, but decided to take some time off from earning her online doctorate to help people learn to navigate the academic lifestyle. She currently lives in Spokane, Washington, where she spends her time reading science fiction and walking her dog.