Author: Glenn Leibowitz
You love your job, you love your coworkers and you’re great at what you do. You show up on time and work gnarly hours. You’re smart and innovative and fun.
In short, you’re killing it. Maybe it’s time to leverage your labors into a sweet little bump in pay.
Easier said than done, I know. The first time I ever asked for a raise, I was working for a landscaping company. I was 18, and my job involved shoveling dirt for 10 to 12 hours a day.
At some point I realized that I was working twice as hard as everyone else. New guys would come in and literally quit by lunch. They wouldn’t even say anything. They’d just walk away.
Long story short, I paid attention to these details. I evaluated my worth, went to my boss, and asked for a pay bump. This led to new opportunities, and it wouldn’t have led anywhere if I hadn’t thought it out first.
Here’s how to think it out, in four simple steps:
1. Get the lay of the land.
Before you ask for more moolah, find out your company’s position on raises. If they’re only going to consider them every six months or once a year, know that going in.
Talk to your manager, talk to HR, learn all the facts. Once you’ve got them down, you can formulate a plan.
2. Know how much you’re worth.
Lots of professionals make the mistake of believing they’re worth more than they really are. To get a truly objective idea of what you should be earning, do your homework.
The more homework, the better. Sites like PayScale, Glassdoor and Salary.com offer cool tools for helping you figure things out.
Don’t be content with just two or three sources, though. A minimum of 10 will give you a clear, solid picture of what other people in your role are bringing in.
Finally, be scrupulously honest with the inputs. Don’t call yourself senior if you’re mid-level, for example. You’re setting yourself up for failure otherwise.
3. Bring structure to the conversation.
Let’s say that your company has a hard and fast rule that, short of being promoted, you’re eligible for a raise once a year within a specific period.
Start preparing today. Schedule a meeting with your manager. Ask them to help you set some realistic goals to improve your odds of success when the time comes to reevaluate your paycheck.
An effective manager won’t be vague. They won’t come up with fuzzy stuff like “You need to continue doing well and develop some new capabilities.”
Your goals should inarguable; black and white. One they are, buckle down and pursue them with everything you have.
4. Follow up.
Now that you have a reasonable understanding of what to aim for, keep the conversation going. Revisit your goals with your manager during your regular one-on-ones.
Don’t worry about beating a dead horse; you’re there to assess exactly how near you are to reaching your objectives. You’ll be appreciated for your directness and for the fact that you’re striving to improve.
It’s a basic fact of life that you have to earn what you get. If this applies to shoveling dirt, it applies to every other kind of labor.
Another basic fact is that if you want to get more, you have to (1) work harder, and (2) call attention to your work. Be fearless about both.