Raises and Promotions Archives

“Want a Raise? – Here’s How to Ask”

Published on August 11th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

“At the end of my salary, there’s always a lot of month left.”

– Loesje

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORY: Here are some survey results recently published by compensation-data firm PayScale:

    a. Over 90% of U.S. workers reported being dissatisfied with their salary.
    b. But, only 43% of U.S. workers reported asking for a raise last year.
    c. About 19% of U.S. workers were offered a raise without asking for one.
    d. But 38% didn’t ask for a raise because they were uncomfortable asking, feared being too “pushy,” and some even thought they would lose their jobs if they asked.
    e. One statistic stood out over all: of those who asked for raises, 75% were successful.

How many received the raise they felt they deserved? 44%. Not too bad. Is it possible they didn’t prepare themselves with a careful plan, practice their “pitch” for a raise, and therefore missed out on a golden opportunity to be more successful? Quite possibly, in fact, likely.

While every employee, every employer, every industry, and the financial circumstances of every company are unique, three things are for sure: First, unless you were among the 19% who were given a raise without asking, you had to ask for one to get one. Second, even if your are among the 19% who were given a raise without asking, chances are 56% you were not pleased with the result. Third, there are more effective ways to do anything you do, and that includes asking for a raise.

So, it pays to think about your raise request, organize your thoughts, decide who you will ask, consider the rationales you will use to justify your request, and practice your raise request, all before making your request. These wise steps are steps few consider and even less practice. Sad, because they work.

LESSON TO LEARN: Requesting a raise can be a stressful proposition. You may be concerned that your request will make you seem “pushy,” or even anger your boss. You may be fearful that you’ll just be turned down. And, too, you might be granted such a small raise that it would be more than disappointing, even humiliating. If you want to find them, there are so many reasons to avoid requesting a raise in salary.

On the other hand – and there is always an “other hand,” isn’t there? – there are more important reasons to take the initiative, assume the risk, and get past your insecurity and anxiety. The first three are quite familiar: “food, clothing and shelter.” Others include the need to care for, and prepare for, kids, loved ones, retirement and the proverbial “rainy days” that are sure to visit when you least expect them. Raising your salary in your present job can also justify a higher salary in your next job, for “salary history” is a question raised in nearly every job application and in nearly every interview.

Keeping yourself at or above “market rate” for your position and responsibilities, and consistent with your perceived value to your employer, is your “first job” and not your employer’s responsibility. Sure, you may be offered a raise on each hiring anniversary or each January first, but whether you receive a raise, the amount you receive, and the frequency you receive one a raise are your job to influence positively, and not your employer’s. As the saying goes, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Over time, we have coached many of our clients in this process. Each person, each employer and each situation is unique, but there are certain fundamental truths, and even a few “tricks of the trade” that we have proven themselves especially helpful when asking for a raise.

Here they are – all 30 – for your consideration.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Based on many years helping employees negotiate for themselves, here are 30 logical, sensible and effective pointers that should help you when you decide to ask for your raise:
Read the rest of this blog post »

“Good responses to interview questions about how I would best manage people?”

Published on February 5th, 2014 by Alan L Sklover

Question: In my previous jobs I did not manage staff. My previous jobs have been devoted to influencing stakeholders across the company. Now I have an upcoming interview, and would really love your advice on the following: how to best respond to this question: “If you are hired as a manager, how would you interact and engage with team members?” Many Thanks, and Kind Regards,

Sydney, Australia

Answer: Dear Valeria: I cannot remember the last time I was asked about ways to manage staff,  but since you have asked this in the context of “interview questions,” and good managing is a part of being a valuable employee, let me give your question my best try.     

1. Convey Competence: Conveying confidence and competence is perhaps the first way a manager can garner respect, admiration, cooperation, enthusiasm and productivity from his or her staff. I have read many studies that show that employees actually want to look up to their managers, and easily become disillusioned, disgruntled and dismayed if they believe their managers suffer from a lack of confidence or insufficient competence. Boasting and bragging don’t do the trick: wise and steady actions and thoughtful and respectful attitude are what matter. Perhaps this is the true derivation of the phrase “Managing By Example.”     

Nervous about an upcoming interview? You might want to review our Newsletter with that exact title. Just [click here.] 

2. Set Clear Goals: Setting clear and achievable objectives and goals helps staff members establish their own daily priorities, focus their attention, and stay on course. As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, chances are you’ll never get there, and even if you do, you will never know if you have arrived.” People like to have a sense of direction in their lives, especially if their direction is one that makes sense to them. On the other hand, aimless efforts lead to great frustration. Good managers bear that in mind, and set clear goals that all efforts can be directed toward. Greater satisfaction and productivity almost always follow.

“It pays to be polite!” Use our Model “Thank You” Letter After Interview; with Later Follow Up. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!  

3. Establish Boundaries: Some people think that managers and staff members should be good buddies, fast friends, and close companions. I don’t. To be effective, team leaders need to be at least a little different from the team, and walk slightly in front of them. To be effective in supervision, to be respected enough to set direction, and to make the difficult decisions that sometimes have to be made, a manager needs a little “distance.” That does not mean I favor aloofness; I don’t. And, surely, I don’t mean to suggest a “holier-than-thou” attitude. Neither works well in management. But establishing and maintaining a limited degree of boundaries is quite useful in good management of teams. Simply put, “The coach can’t be one of the players.”

Be careful. Use our Model Letter to Remind Interviewers Not to Contact Your Present Employer. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!  

4. Equal Opportunity, but Equal Accountability, too. In articles about “good management,” you often see the word “fairness” used. I don’t like to use that word because I think it sometimes gives the wrong message: that everyone will be treated “fairly.” Fairness in the minds of all people is nearly impossible to achieve. What is “fair” for one is simply not “fair” for others.

Instead, equal opportunities to prosper and grow, and equal accountability when mistakes or malfeasance occur, are what employees appreciate. Not coincidentally, that is what, in general, the law requires: equal opportunity and equal accountability, no matter who is friends with who, and no matter who is one “kind” or another. 

5. We all “Long to Belong.Ever wonder why so many people put bumper stickers on their car bumpers? If there is one component of management skills that is so often overlooked, it is an appeal to the strong need we all have to “belong” to something. A family, a team, a neighborhood, a company, one type of association or another. Good managers recognize that, and include “team meetings” and “group get-togethers” to foster a sense of belonging to a group. It is something like a mini “company outing.” These things do work, and without much fanfare, actually do improve employee morale, encourage employee retention, and motivate employee productivity.

Received a Job Offer? Consider our Model Letter Confirming Terms of Job Offer. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy, just [click hereDelivered by Email – Instantly! 

Alternatively, you might want to ask for improvements. Use our Model Response to Offer Letter; Seeking Improvements. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy for your use, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

Valeria, hope this helps you. At a very minimum, these ideas may show  you are thinking about how you can best manage others, and are looking forward to the challenge.

Thanks for writing in!

My Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: Interviewing? We offer a 152-Point Master Checklist of Employment Negotiation Items to help you make sure you have not (a) forgotten to ask for anything, (b) failed to raise any issues, and (c) that your interests are protected in your offer letter and/or employment contract. To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly! 

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“In-The-Meantime” Clause – This is One to Remember, and Request

Published on November 8th, 2013 by Alan L Sklover

You can’t do better than to expect the unexpected.

“Nothing is so certain as the unexpected.” 

-       English Proverb

TWO ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES”: Melinda was a 32-year-old family practice physician recruited to leave her home and practice in the suburbs of Boston to join a large family-medicine practice in southern Maine. As is so often the custom, she was told that after two years of practice, provided her skills and demeanor were found to meet the practice’s standards, she would become a Partner in the practice, with a 15% ownership stake.

Melinda had no qualms about the deal. First, she was entirely confident she would meet all criteria for becoming a Partner in the practice. Second, it was spelled out entirely clearly in her contract, and her brother – an experienced attorney – said “It could not be clearer.” Third, the practice was a growing one, and her 15% ownership would surely “set her up for life.”

Then, 18 months after Melinda joined the medical practice, something entirely unexpected happened: a corporate health service headquartered in Boston made a very significant offer to purchase the family medical practice in order to merge it into their growing network of family medical service centers throughout the northeast U.S. The physician-partners all sold their shares in the medical practice for a handsome price, and were offered long-term jobs afterwards.

Melinda? Because she had not been a physician in the practice for two full years, she got nothing. She was not even offered a job by the corporate health service. It all came to be a very large loss to her – and a serious setback in her life plans.

Something very different happened to Howard, a 31-year-old hedge fund trader at a small hedge fund in St. Louis. After leaving a large Wall Street firm, he joined the hedge fund in large part because he was offered ten percent (10%) of the firm stock if he remained with the firm for two full years. Like Melinda, Howard saw it as an opportunity to become an “owner,” and to establish himself for the long term.

Fortunately for Howard, we assisted him with his contract of employment that provided him with his ten percent (10%) ownership interest. We insisted on what we call an “in-the-meantime” clause that provided that, if anything happened “in the meantime” to prevent his receipt of fully vested stock due to no fault of his own, in all events Howard would receive the stock or its equivalent in value in cash.

Sure enough, when Howard’s small hedge fund merged with a large hedge fund headquartered in Chicago, the owners received a hefty purchase price. Howard’s stock did not get a chance to vest, so he would likely lose out completely, as Melinda did. In Howard’s contract, though, his “in-the-meantime clause” saved the day. Because it was there, Howard received the same purchase price as if he had owned the stock.

LESSON TO LEARN: An ounce of “in-the-meantime” forethought is surely worth more than a pound of “I wish I had thought of that,” or even a ton of “I can’t believe what just happened.”

If, in your employment negotiations, you are being offered a “thing of value,” but must wait to receive it – whether it is elevation to a partnership, an annual bonus, vested stock or stock options, a promotion, or a coveted sales territory, just to name a few – insist on an ‘in-the-meantime” clause to provide that, if for any reason other than your own misconduct you don’t receive it, you will be given either its monetary value or an alternative, but no less valuable “thing of value.”

Chances are you will never need it. But, if you do, you sure will be glad you have it.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: So many of our clients have requested, and received, “in-the-meantime” clauses in their offer letters, employment agreements, relocation agreements, retention agreements, and other work-related contracts. While few have ended up needing to exercise their rights under their “in-the-meantime” clauses, those who have done so have been just thrilled to have the “safety net” they provide. Here are five things you can do to help yourself in this regard: Read the rest of this blog post »

“My raise was tiny. Illegal discrimination, or legal cost-cutting?”

Published on August 23rd, 2013 by Alan L Sklover

Question: Hello. I have been with my present employer for over 28 years. I am now 50. I receive great performance evaluations, but this year’s raise was only one half of one percent. To make matters worse, half of it will not be counted for retirement purposes. 

I feel like it is age discrimination and they are trying to starve me out. Do I have a case?

Name Withheld
Leland, Missouri 

Answer: Dear Blog Visitor: Hello to you, as well. I chose to publish my answer to your question because so many blog visitors are asking similar questions lately. Here is my best answer.   

1. For there to be illegal “discrimination,” there must be an illegal “motivation” in your employer’s mind and heart. It is not illegal discrimination for an older person to receive a small raise, or to be demoted, or even to be laid off. Those unfortunate experiences can happen to anyone, at any age. However, if your boss said to himself or herself, “I am going to give him a small raise because I don’t like older people,” or “Deep in my heart, I know older people get sick more often, so I don’t think they are worth as much as younger people,” then it would be illegal discrimination, because of the discriminatory motivation for the act.  

2. How can you tell if you have a “case” of illegal discrimination? Since illegal discrimination is a matter of what is in the “mind” and “heart” of the employer, how can you see what is in an employer’s mind and heart? Actually, you cannot do that, even if you looked real hard in their ears, down their throats, or up their noses. However, you can figure out what is in employers’ minds and hearts by listening to what they say and watching what they do, because what they say and what they do is a reflection of what they think and feel.  

Let’s start with (a) what your employer says: if your employer goes around calling people in their 50’s and 60’s “old geezers,” or other negative things, then he or she probably does not view older workers with respect, and does not see them as valuable as they view younger employees. Likewise, if your employer keeps saying to older employees “You should not need much money, as your kids are all grown,” chances are the employer had age in his or her mind when deciding how much to give you this year as your raise. 

Now let’s look at (b) what your employer does. Most importantly, did older employees all receive lower raises than younger employees? Have more of the older employees been laid off than younger employees?  Have more of the older employees been denied promotions that were given to less experienced, and younger, employees? These acts would tend to paint a pretty strong pattern of different treatment depending on the ages of the employees, and thus indicated age was in the mind and heart of the employer when it decided on the small raise.  

3. If you are paid more than most of your younger colleagues, it is possible that a very small raise was given to you in order to urge you to resign, or get you angry enough to quit. This sort of seeming “discrimination” – where the employer targets those who are higher paid, and it is a fact that older employees are often higher paid – is a source of great debate among many people, including employees, employers, lawyers and Courts. While lowering overall costs is an entirely appropriate business objective, if doing so falls mostly on the shoulders of older employees, could it be “discrimination in disguise?” Courts are somewhat in disagreement over how to treat these circumstances, but are increasingly looking at each individual, and making a determination – illegal discrimination or legal cost-cutting – on a case-by-case basis, with a watchful eye toward “evident intent.” That is, they look at the other things that the employer is “saying” and “doing” to reach a decision on this issue of possible discriminatory intent. 

4. I think it is quite likely that you are experiencing what so many other people – young, middle aged and old – are experiencing, worldwide: lowered compensation for the same effort and performance. Not only am I reading about it, I am hearing about this trend on a daily basis from both clients and blog visitors. They are not only receiving lowered benefits, lowered bonuses, lowered commission payments, but even lowered salaries. This is on every “level,” from entry level to “C-Suite.” It is to the point that even some people are working for free – the “interns” – in most cases in violation of minimum wage laws.  

It seems like a matter of “supply and demand,” that is, few jobs and a lot people looking for them. While employers can’t sell more, and can’t raise their prices, they can engage in – and are – lowering compensation. In and of itself, it is not illegal. Demoralizing? Yes. Upsetting? Yes.

A real challenge? You betcha, as landlords, mortgage companies and those who sell us the food we eat are not lowering their prices at this time. Far from it. 

5. The one proven way to combat “income deflation” is to learn how to “navigate and negotiate” at work, which is what we teach in this blog. Even in this atmosphere of “income deflation,” some people are moving forward, climbing the income ladder, and achieving greater incomes and enhanced job security. It is a matter of pursuing and practicing our 7-step discipline, what we refer to as the SkloverMethod™ of workplace navigation and negotiation, which is fully explained more throughout our blogsite. As we often say, “Make yourself valuable, and negotiate that value, and all will be well.”   

I hope this has been helpful. Thanks for writing in.   

My Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: Want to learn more of this “good stuff” regularly? You can Receive Each of Our Blog Posts Automatically, Free, By Email if you just [click here.] And we promise: we never sell, lease or let anyone see our subscriber list. Never, ever.  

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© 2013 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Any way I can make sure I will get a promised promotion?”

Published on June 1st, 2012 by Alan Sklover

Question: Dear Alan, I am being made an offer by another company for a Marketing Director role. The reason I am seriously considering taking this position is that the employer promised me that I will be likely to take the China President role if I perform well at the Marketing Director position.

I plan to ask that a clause be put into my offer letter to that effect that I will be promoted to the China President role in three years.

Have you ever seen this kind of thing happen based on your experience?

Beijing, China

Answer: Dear Thomas: Yes, many times. I call them “Try Out” promises. Let me explain:

1. Often, an employer wants to “try out” the employee before giving him or her a position of considerable importance and/or trust. Quite often professional firms – such as law firms, accounting firms, and consulting firms – want to acquire a promising candidate, and intend to give them a position such as Partner, or Director, or President – but first want to “try out” the person in a less demanding, less critical role. This way, the employer can assess the candidate far better – even as to such subjective qualities as personal “chemistry” – before making a rather “permanent” appointment. In large corporations, too, a candidate for a CEO position who has never before been a CEO can be “tried out” as, for example, COO, before being given “the keys to the kingdom.” These are quite common.

Some people believe this is the exact same reason for an “engagement period” before actual “marriage” in personal relations.

2. Because employers in these circumstances seek a “try out” period before making a long-term or permanent commitment, they often decline requests for written commitments to promote, such as in offer letters. Your interest in taking the Marketing Director position is only because you are so interested in the President position, and so you want a written commitment. That makes total sense, and I salute you for your approach. It is the right approach to take, and you should make a respectful request for such a clause. However, in my experience, because many employers want a true chance to “try out” the candidate before making the firm commitment, most will not agree to such a firm commitment for the ultimate position in an offer letter or “Welcome Aboard” memo.

3. Beware of “Words of Intention.” As what may seem to you to be a compromise of sorts, your prospective employer may offer to insert into your offer letter a clause that says something like this: “If you do well as Marketing Director, IT IS OUR INTENTION to make you President within three years.” Beware of such “Words of Intention,” because while they may make you feel comfortable, or make you think you have an assurance, to my knowledge “words of intention” are not binding or enforceable in any legal system. It is the same thing regardless of the particular “Words of Intention” used, which may include “may,” “expect to,” “will likely,” “subject to,” or “our present plan.” Be very careful in your reading of words, phrases and even punctuation marks.

I have written an article on this exact subject entitled “In Hiring Memos, Offer Letters and Employment Agreements, Beware of Words of Intention.” To read it, just [ click here. ]

4. Usually, in negotiating this issue, the best a candidate in your situation can do is to ask for, and receive, an “Alternative Reward.” As I noted above, I agree that you should ask for a clause in your Offer Letter committing the employer to promoting you to President within three years. If you get that, great. As I also noted above, beware of “words of intention,” because they represent a false sense of security. Most commonly, the most effective source of real assurance is what I call an “alternative reward, such as the following:

“In the event, despite our present intentions, you are not promoted to President within three years of this date, for any reason (other than your committed a serious crime or offense), you will be entitled to then choose any of the following, at your discretion: (a) immediate promotion to Vice President, (b) appointment to the Board of Directors, (c) a lump-sum severance payment equal to two times your full annual compensation, or (d) two percent of the common stock of the company, immediately vested.”

Of course, these listed “alternative rewards” are merely illustrations; you can and should come up with your own.

By the way, in most countries, if a prospective groom breaks off an engagement with a prospective bride, the law says that the would-be bride may keep the engagement ring, just like an “alternative reward” for not getting the marriage promise fulfilled. Yes, that is true.

5. Alternative Rewards can serve both as “Risk Limiters” to employees and “Fulfillment Motivators” to employers. From the employee’s perspective, such “alternative rewards” at least make it more palatable – perhaps even pleasant – to be denied what you really want. From the employer’s perspective, such “alternative rewards” can serve to make employers think twice about not fulfilling an assurance, because it is so “expensive,” perhaps even “painful” not to do so.

Thomas, it is this mindful sort of “navigation and negotiation” that can make a career move such as the one you contemplate both more rewarding, and less risky, and that’s what business and careers are all about, no?.

Hope this is helpful to you. Thanks for writing in all the way from Bejing. We hope you’ll spread the word to your colleagues in China about the value of our blogsite.

My Very Best,
Al Sklover

Not getting the advancement you want? If you going to seek a new job, we offer many Model Letters for Seeking a New Job. To see the complete list, just [click here.] All of our Model Memos, Letters and Checklists are Delivered by Email – Instantly!

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© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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