Do you believe you are underpaid at work? Asking for a raise can be an intimidating process. However, armed with research, preparation and the simple tips below, you can create a compelling case for a salary increase.
Determine the market value of your position.
Take some time to research the market value of your job. Internet-based salary calculators such as Salary.com and on-line resources such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook may provide helpful compensation information. Network with your peers at other law firms and companies to determine what people in your position at your experience level are paid. Professional associations such as the American Bar Association and National Federation of Paralegal Associations also often maintain salary information.
Research your firm’s compensation practices.
Review the salary guidelines outlined in company policies, employment handbooks, job descriptions and/or websites to determine the pay range for employees in your position. If compensation information is not published, talk to your human resources department or manager to gain insight into the company’s compensation policies.
Develop your sales pitch.
Prepare and rehearse a presentation to your employer outlining your value to the company. Mention your accomplishments, awards and goals. Emphasize any specialized skills, knowledge or expertise you bring to the position that sets you apart from others. Provide concrete examples, facts, figures, percentages and other hard data where possible. Save e-mails or letters in which clients, co-workers, vendors or others have commented positively on your work efforts. Demonstrate how you have transcended the boundaries of your position to add value to the company.
Select the right moment.
The best time to request a pay raise is immediately after you saved the company money, received an award, completed a large project or achieved some other noteworthy accomplishment. Likewise, if you have just joined the firm or your recent performance has been less than stellar, you may want to postpone your request for a raise.
Wait until your manager is in a good mood and not busy with other pressing obligations. Research demonstrates that Mondays are typically not the best day to ask for a raise.
Advocate your case.
Present your case for a raise to your employer, supporting your position with tangible data and evidence of your value to the company, if possible. Now is not the time to be modest about your accomplishments. You must toot your own horn.
Your attitude will set the tone for the negotiation. Advocating your position calmly and rationally will advance your cause further than raising your voice, arguing, being confrontational or giving ultimatums.
Solicit other offers.
One of the most effective ways to obtain a raise is to get a higher job offer from another company and use that offer as leverage. However, play this card carefully. If the employer does not match or beat the company’s offer, you must be willing to accept the other offers.
Provide business reasons to justify a raise.
Providing your employer business reasons, rather than personal reasons, for giving you a raise makes it easier for him to justify a salary increase. Examples of business reasons include: “I consistently outperform my higher-paid peers,” or “I’ve saved the company X amount of dollars by implementing the XYZ program.” Personal reasons include: “I don’t make enough money to pay my mortgage” or “My husband was just laid off from his job.”
Do not base your appeal on emotion.
Although salary is a highly personal issue, approach the discussion as a business negotiation. Keep your tone professional and refrain from allowing your emotions to influence your discussion.
Develop a back-up plan.
What if your boss does not grant your request for a raise? Ask what specific goals you need to accomplish to merit a pay increase. Do you need to work more hours or assume additional responsibilities?
Look beyond money at your total compensation package. If your employer is not in a financial position to offer more money, he may be able to offer other monetary benefits such as paid parking, extra vacation time, a project-based bonus, enhanced work benefits or company perks such as box seats.