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19 comments

How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

Posted September 22, 2010 10:12 AM by KER_Recruiter

Unfortunately, it's been some time since my last blog entry here on CR4. But I'm now looking forward to starting up again. For those readers who may not remember my previous entries, my name is Jake Briggs. I'm a Direct Hire Recruiter / Search Consultant for Kelly Engineering Resources in Buffalo, New York.

Recently, I was asked to write about a topic that I'm not an expert on - how to approach your engineering manager for a raise. In response, I decided to reach out to three veteran engineering managers. Each provided valuable input about how to approach this sensitive situation, and how to gain a positive outcome.

Based on my discussions, I've compiled this list of questions to ask yourself and things to consider.

  1. Evaluate your position with the company. Do you deserve a raise to begin with? (I'm sure we all would say "yes" here!)
  2. Do you provide value to the company? If so, what examples of your accomplishments can you provide?
  3. Do you set yourself apart from your co-workers and exceed the requirements of your position? Be prepared to provide details, but do not name specific co-workers; that could result in a negative consequence.
  4. Evaluate the local engineering employment market, especially with regard to the supply and demand for engineers with your credentials and experience. Speak to a Recruiter who knows your worth in the local market.
  5. Be prepared to receive constructive criticism that will point out weaknesses in your performance. Remain positive and ask for help on how to correct any performance issues. Also, ask to be put on a timeline to position yourself to be evaluated again. If your manager says that you need licenses, certifications or degrees, ask for recommendations about how to obtain them. Some companies will pay for them or provide tuition assistance.

In conclusion, be prepared to state your case and receive constructive criticism. Keep a positive attitude and do not retaliate in any form if your request for a raise is denied. If you get your raise, then congratulations are in order. It's well-deserved. If you don't get a raise and you don't get the support you need to reach the next level of your engineering career goals, I'd recommend contacting a Direct Hire Recruiter / Search Consultant like myself.

As always, I look forward to your comments. Cheers!

Editor's Note: Jake Briggs (KER_Recruiter) is a Direct Hire Recruiter / Search Consultant for Kelly Engineering Resources in Buffalo, New York. His territory includes the Upstate, NY Region as well as U.S. Based Searches for Engineering, Quality & Operation Management Positions. The views expressed on this Web site/Weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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#1

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/22/2010 11:35 AM

Sounds pretty good to me, I'm glad you say don't name other workers.
In fact I'd say don't make any comparisons at all because if someone use that argument with me I'd simply say "Will you be satisfied if I give them all a pay cut?!"
It should be about what you contribute above and beyond your basic job description.
Del

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#2

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/22/2010 2:08 PM

Jake - Great advice. I would add that most engineers are over-achievers. They typically go above and beyond the "call of duty" and many hope to be compensated for it.

Some additional advice I received from my brother once:

"One thing I would think long and hard about before the meeting is, does the company need an engineer of your caliber? I know, you know, and they probably know what you are worth... but they are only going to pay for what they need. You make a good case for what you can do and I think you are making a decent case for what the company needs, but don't lose sight of the idea that you are most likely overqualified and they are going to recieve the benefit of the fact you are a hard worker."

I would add that when determining your value add to the company, make sure it is needed, before you bring to light that the company may be able to fill your role with an Engineering Technician at a lower cost. If you are working harder than you need to, which we all do, we can't blame the company we work for for taking advantage of it.

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#3

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/22/2010 5:16 PM

Interesting perspective.

I'm finding that there are two more issues that are holding strength in the modern market.

The first is the ability AND willingness to share with and encourage others. Be known to be a mentor and guide outside your specific role. Gone are the days when being the only one who could perform a specific role or task meant power. Now such behavious is regarded as insecurity.

The other is the way that you actually perform for the other 220 or so days that you are at work each year. Pay rises will not be associated with one or two specific single events but on total demonstrated performance.

It still all comes back to the local market though. If you're the only employed GIS systems administrator in the town and there are one or two qualified applicants asking for work, then these are the times to consolidate your position by talking with your manager and seeking feedback on their expectations.

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#4

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/23/2010 12:44 AM

The only way to truly know what you're worth is- Apply for and gain another job. See what they offer you to stay.

All negotiations come back to what someone is prepared to pay and what you're prepared to accept. They're not based on fairness, loyalty, or what others are getting.

No matter how logical the argument it ultimately comes down to "I'll leave if you don't pay more". PS I'm currently applying for another job

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/23/2010 3:33 AM

GA - That is the way I look at it.

Loyalty only counts when the company wants to screw you. Come layoff time the company bosses often remember who kisses their backside more often rather than who does the company the most good.

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#9
In reply to #4

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/23/2010 9:31 AM

If you go back to your current employer and inform them you received an offer and your only goal is to increase your salary of where you currently work, bad move! If your worth it they will pay you what you want, but you will be looking for a job in less than a year when they decide to replace you because of these actions. I would recommend to you to check out my past blog, "Ten Reasons to Reject the Counteroffer"

Best Wishes,

Jake

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#13
In reply to #4

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/23/2010 8:55 PM

The immediate response from 98% of employers will be " That's ok, enjoy your new job, don't bother clearing your desk, we'll send any personal stuff to you with the seperation certificate. Bye."

Blackmailing only gets you a cab ride home.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/24/2010 12:20 AM

Depends on your value to the company.

One tends to get what they are worth.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/24/2010 12:29 AM

Depends on the company

there is no "one solution" to this question.

the OP is a typical HR type

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/24/2010 12:38 AM

You are right - HR type - we know what they are worth!

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#6

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/23/2010 8:06 AM

When I was working for "companies" I always had an annual performance review. The things you have included were all there, plus requested input to the reviewer (boss) from people or departments that I had worked with to solve problems or implement solutions of one kind or another. When consulting I always asked for an honest assessment of my work/performance for future references.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/23/2010 9:21 AM

Oh yes the HR led farce of the 'annual performance review ' with associated targets and other BS.
At a previous job, as the chief designer I was perpetually bamboozled by senior management to do all the reviews of my guys, despite my protestations and much dragging on my heels.

Why did I protest and drag my heels? Because, of course, I'd never once had my appraisal done by the very people who were pushing me to do get them done....

Did they fulfill any useful purpose? Did they enhance my understanding of my guys? Did it just make everyone feel uncomfortable and waste a load of time?
Send your answers to the HR department where they will gather dust...
Del

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/23/2010 10:12 AM

I think what your saying is respect should be mutual.

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#7

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/23/2010 8:21 AM

In the past I have looked at what I am doing in the company and realised I might be getting less than I thought I could earn elsewhere.. I have checked the market, went for a couple of interviews, and found that I could probably make a considerable contribution elsewhere and the new employer was keen to get me on their payroll at a considerable premium over the previous employer. I then considered approaching my employer, but thought "why ask for a raise that I know I have got by moving elsewhere. When I have told my (old) employer he has invariably offerred to match or beat the other offer but by then it is too late. I do not want to work in a place where I feel I have blackmailed (by threatening to leave) my employer as it is not a good strategy for a good working relationship. I have adopted the view over the years that it is more in the employer's interest to make sure the package is right if he is interested in staff retention as he will be involved in the costs of hiring and retraining.

The employer I stayed with longest (12 years) made the adjustments and I never had to ask for a raise. Why did I leave? A competitor bought the group on condition the group closed the facility in which I was working as their own division (competing with us) were struggling. What did I do then? The competitor phoned me to head up their engineering division at a higher salary, which I did!

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#11

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/23/2010 10:13 AM

I have always simply just said to my bosses "I'm worth more than you are paying me Joe". And be prepared to back up that statement, just as you would back up any statement you make at work.

If you would rather be happy in your little boat, then don't rock it then.

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#12

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/23/2010 11:58 AM

Stay or become single. Sell most of your possessions. Live out of your car (if you keep one). Cut all your expenses to the bare bone. Then ask for a raise in whatever way you want and makes you feel best.

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#18
In reply to #12

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/24/2010 10:09 AM

This comment is not off topic at all, Guest....the fear that you will be shown the door is a very real one if you "rock the boat". And there is the possibillity that you can price yourself out of the job market. After all, if you were the supervisor, who would you downsize? The new guy with the beginner's low salary, or the established guy who costs twice as much. And we all know that the year before your pension kicks in is the most dangerous because they are looking for a way to dodge paying out the pension. And that leads inevitably to the question, how will will you survive if you end up fired.

That is quite the whip hand the employer has! And many, if not most of my collegues live with this reality every day. And in this present economic climate, rocking the boat in even such a minor thing as a pay rise, can be VERY stressful!

This, I believe, is symptomatic of a toxic workplace. There are antidotes to this toxin however...the OP is in the business of finding such antidotes. You probably know some others, but you won't find the answers in a text book. Everybody is already performing at or very near their maximum productivity, so it is not "job performance" which will make you attractive to keep. Its communication. There are a hundred ways to improve communication with your co-workers, improve communication with your supervisors to the point where it will become easy to say "hey boss, you need to pay more money". A hundred things you can do that have nothing to do with your "job" but everything to do with improving your work place. They keep people that improve the workplace you know. (Okay, I'll throw in two specific examples...I once brought in a can of paint and painted the washroom because it really, really needed it. I did it on my off day, and didn't tell anybody. But the word seemed to have got around anyway. The squadron commander personally thanked me. The second was not me, but another fella, who stepped up and called all our suppliers asking for donations to a door prize for our annual Sqadron picnic and fly-in. The smoozing possiblities were outstanding for the suppliers, the bosses really benefited from the experience, and eventually the guy that did that was promoted. What does THAT tell ya? He became valuable. He was looked up to. His stress level was pretty much zero.)

So, to oversimplify a complex working relationship, if stress is a syptom of toxicity in the work place, work to reduce the stress. The things that you do to reduce the stress will result in a less toxic working environment, and will make it easier to ask for a raise, a corner office, a promotion, or a lateral transfer. At the very least, it will make it more pleasant to come to work.

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#17

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

09/24/2010 7:21 AM

Great blog, great responses. Now my two cents' worth.

Way back when (1967) i made a promise to myself - never will i ask for a raise. And kept it. Things may be different in India. There is an 'inflation compensation' element usually effective 1st April. Everyone gets that. Then comes the performance-related raise, which everyone always believes should have been more. Well, i must admit thinking that, when young, maybe that was a stupid promise. But it paid off over time. My successive bosses were perplexed when i never asked. All of them, at one time or another, asked me why....i said, "if i ask, and you give, it doesn't taste the same. Better you give, usually it is more than what i would have asked !"

Never regretted that promise.

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#19

Re: How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise

11/24/2010 12:45 PM

You broke my basketball pole on PURPOSE!

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