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How To Get a Raise

Published February 23, 2009 9:09 AM by Glen McDaniel
In these troubled economic times, most people are just concerned with hanging onto their job. However, inflation has cut into the value of the dollar, and many employed individuals inside and outside of healthcare are finding their static paycheck actually shrinking.

Believe it or not, it is still possible (and more necessary than ever) to convince your boss to give you a raise. Merit increases in the budget are likely to be smaller, and therefore spread more thinly these days. Expect lean operations to continue for a while longer, but don't assume you have no chance of receiving a salary boost.

The trick in getting a raise is to prove value to the organization and to be fully in the forefront of your boss's thinking while s/he is considering how to slice that dwindling pie.

  • Prove your worth. The onus is on you to highlight, document and recall your accomplishments over the year. While managers love a smooth running department, they sometimes forget to reward the person who made that possible. Operating under the radar cuts both ways--no problems or need for  interventions, but no special accolades either. Copy your boss on significant decisions and keep your own file of your accomplishments. At evaluation time, pull it out and make a summary list for your boss. You can always provide details if prompted.
  • Know the market and use it to your advantage. As employers cut back, employees leave for more stable employment and employers try to get more out of the valued employees they retain. You can often use a competitor scale or counter-offer to justify an increase.
  • Ask for an off cycle review. This is not an option with all companies, but sometimes you can get a 6-month review with a minor adjustment, away from the fray of the annual merit increases. If you are starting a new job, using the same strategy, you should ask if there is any possibility you can have your performance reviewed (and have your salary adjusted) in 6 months.
  • Ask for non-monetary perks. Think of the ways you spend your money and where you could use help. Instead of paying a straight increase, employers might find it easier to pay subscriptions, offer free parking, allow you to telecommute, pay mileage for short job-associated travel and so on. Think outside the box.
  • Ask! This is a no brainier, but many employees just assume because of the state of the economy and the company's P&L you have sit back and settle for whatever is offered. Not true!

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