It doesn’t matter how much you love your job or are fulfilled by your work, you probably want to make more money. Who doesn’t? A little boost to your paycheck is always a good thing.
But these days, a continued focus on reducing the bottom line means that many employers simply don’t have enough money to allow them to offer significant raises. In the cases when they do offer a salary increase, they need to be able to justify it.
As an employee, you need to make a compelling case when you ask for a raise. You must demonstrate your value to the company via your unique skill sets, accomplishments and your commitment to the mission, and show your boss that you’re an important part of the team — and that better compensation will keep you a happy and productive member of the team.
The problem is that many highly competent and skilled employees take the wrong approach to asking for raises. Instead of focusing on positives like what they bring the company, they say things that make them sound petty, desperate or even immature. This has a negative effect on the negotiation process, diminishing the chances of receiving a raise.
If you want to impress your boss and earn more money, avoid saying any of the following when you’re asking for a raise.
“I Have a Better Offer.”
You might think that telling your employer that someone else is interested in you and will pay you more money will spur him to do anything to keep you, but this approach could backfire, especially if the competing offer isn’t real. The worst case scenario is that your boss shows you the door, and not only did you not get a raise, but you’re now unemployed. Even if you don’t get fired, your boss will probably resent the fact you resorted to such manipulation, and you might be subject to extra scrutiny if your boss suspects you’ve been job hunting on company time. The only exception to this rule is when you actually do have a competing job offer with a higher salary and you’re trying to decide which path to take. Otherwise, don’t try to trick your boss into paying you more to keep you on board.
“I’m in Debt.”
You have a mountain of credit card bills, your spouse just got laid off and your car is on its last legs. You know that a raise could help ease the burden a bit, but you should resist the temptation to spill your guts to your boss. Your personal problems are not his or hers to deal with, and while they may have empathy for your situation, it’s not up to them to fix it. In addition, revealing the struggles you’re dealing with at home might lead your boss to question whether you’re committed to your job, or whether you’re spending too much time worrying about bill collectors and shirking your duties.
“Bob Makes More Than I Do.”
If you somehow discover that a co-worker doing a similar job is earning more than you, it can sting — and you might be tempted to march into your boss’s office and demand equality. But before you do, you may consider why your co-worker might be earning more. There are a number of reasons people doing similar jobs have varying salaries. Perhaps your co-worker negotiated a better starting salary, or has more education and experience than you. Instead of focusing on a specific co-worker, do your homework, and if you are earning less than the typical salary for someone in the same field with the same experience, talk with your boss about increasing your earnings to be more in-line with the going rate.
“I Work Harder Than Everyone Else.”
When asking for a raise, you want to highlight your achievements and why you’re an important part of the team. You don’t want to imply your co-workers do not work hard or that you’re somehow doing more than everyone else. Chances are your boss sees how much you’re doing and how you go the extra mile. Again, when you ask for a raise, show your value and how you go above and beyond, and you’ll likely get the extra money you’re hoping for.
Many professionals list asking for a raise as one of the most uncomfortable tasks they are faced with in their careers. However, if you have a strong case and avoid common errors, the meeting can actually be pleasant, and you’ll be on your way to earning the salary you deserve.
About the Author: Betsy Odenkirk is a career advisor with seven years of experience helping individuals make positive career decisions.