We all want to earn more money, but as a young professional or new graduate with minimal work experience, how do you go about asking for that raise?
Asking for a raise can be stressful for anybody – but doing it for the first time can be especially nerve wracking. Being confident, and prepared to state your case will give you the best shot at getting you the money you deserve.
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Understand your employer’s pay practices. Ask Human Resources or read your employee handbook to see if your company has a standard procedure for negotiating pay raises. If a policy already exists – like at the end of the fiscal year, and the end of the calendar year, or on your anniversary date – you should follow the process exactly. [More: 10 things people ask employment lawyers]
Do your research. Coming into work on time every day does not entitle you to a raise. Nor does how many years you’ve been employed at your company. You will need to justify why you deserve to be paid more money by making a list of your accomplishments, and showing how you have benefited the company. Have you increased productivity, or brought the company more business? Presenting your skillset and importance to the company through concrete evidence will show that you are a valuable asset, and will give you a solid case. [More: How to get a fair settlement if you're fired]
Know exactly what you want. Whether you’re looking for a certain percentage increase, a dollar amount, or some other form of compensation – like more vacation days or the ability to work from home – decide what you want before you ask, and be prepared to negotiate.
Be realistic. It can be tempting to ask for a huge wage increase just to see what might happen, but unless you can prove that you’re worth that amount, it will only backfire. Standard negotiation procedure suggests that you start with a little more than what you actually want, and during the negotiation process, you and your employer will eventually come to an amount closer to your actual desired wage.
It’s important to note that just like the increased cost of living that comes with living in a big city, salaries can also differ significantly between smaller cities and big cities like Vancouver or Toronto.
Don’t give up. If your request for a raise was declined, ask for a follow-up meeting a few months down the road. Make sure to ask what you need to do in order to improve as an employee and get the raise you think you deserve the next time around. This will keep your request in your boss’ mind, and show that you are serious about continuing to improve and become a more successful, well-rounded employee. [More: 7 signs it may be time to look for another job]
Once you’ve landed yourself a job offer and are negotiating the terms of employment, you might consider asking for a raise to be written in your employment agreement – to come into effect when your probation period is over and your employer is satisfied with your work performance. That way, you are guaranteed a salary review within a specific time frame.
This strategy has worked for me twice so far in the six years since I graduated from college. The first time – my first full-time permanent position in Vancouver – saw my salary increase by over $4,000 after three months, and the second time I negotiated a raise into my employment agreement, my salary increased by $2,000.
Even if you’ve done your research and prepared your case, sometimes a pay raise might not be in the cards. But don’t get discouraged; keep working hard and have faith in yourself. And remember that your negotiation skills will get better as you get more work experience under your belt, and become more confident in selling yourself and your accomplishments.