Raise 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 »

“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.  

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time™

© 2013 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Now doing two jobs for one salary; any suggestions?”

Published on December 28th, 2011 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I work for a publicly owned automotive dealership. When I was hired about two years ago, I was given my job duties. Later the same owners acquired a second auto dealership down the street and moved me there. I am now doing the accounting for both dealerships without any extra compensation.

My boss says, “Just be grateful you have a job.” What can I do?

Orlando, Florida

Answer: Dear Betty: I am hearing from so many people that they are in the same position you are in. Here are my thoughts.              

1. It is true that everyone who has a job should be grateful for that. I really can’t argue with anyone who says that every working person should be grateful that they have a job. “Counting your blessings” is an important daily activity for those who aspire to happy lives. I thank the Lord each day just for waking up to a new day. For me, having a job and earning a decent living to support my family is “icing on the cake.” However, that does not mean that you should be pleased to be overworked, underpaid, or otherwise treated poorly or unfairly.       

2. From your letter, I cannot tell if you are overworked and unable to get all of your day’s work done in one day. . . or if you simply resent doing more things than you used to do. I have been an employee, and I am an employer. I think I can see both “sides of the coin” pretty well. If you are unable to reasonably get your work done during the day, and find yourself working late every day and/or all night at home and on the weekends, then I think you have a problem on your hands. On the other hand, if you can reasonably perform the bookkeeping for both dealerships, without unusual stress or crazy hours, I do not share your view that you are being treated unfairly.

3. If you are being taken advantage of, that is, underpaid or overworked, I suggest you make a respectful “pitch” for a raise, or some other “reward.” In your circumstances, there is nothing better you can do than to “do your best” to get a raise in pay for your efforts, or some other “reward,” examples of which might include (i) more vacation, (ii) better healthcare, (iii) an increased 401k contribution, or (iv) perhaps even the right to work from home one day a week. Your ability to gain a raise, or some other “alternative reward” is dependent on whether your boss, or his or her boss, sees you as valuable enough to fear losing, especially to a competitor. To a great extent you cannot expect others to see your value; instead, you have to “advertise” and “promote” yourself a bit, something that many people don’t do, to their detriment.

I’ve written several articles and answered many questions on how to ask for a raise, or another “alternative reward,” that you can review by simply [clicking here.] You can also watch our free YouTube videos about negotiating with your boss by simply [clicking here.]

You can also obtain a Model Letter entitled “Memo Requesting Raise or Promotion” from the “Model Letter” section of our blogsite. 

4. Bottom line is this, Betty: If you are underappreciated, and your best efforts to undo that don’t work, you need to find an employer who will appreciate you, and pay you what you deserve. I hope that does not sound callous, or uncaring, because it is nothing less than simply true. It is surely hard to get any job these days, but for those who have good skills, good attitude, and can show those things to prospective employers, the chances of getting hired are surely improved. Sometimes I wish I could build a magic “fair button,” that would make things fair, but the honest truth is each of us has to do our best, each day, in every way, to make things fair for ourselves, and our loved ones . . . and even that doesn’t always work.

Hope these thoughts – and the other materials on our blogsite about getting a raise – are helpful to you. Thanks for writing in, and thanks, too, for watching our YouTube videos.  

Al Sklover

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Promised raise not given to me; what do I do?”

Published on July 23rd, 2011 by Alan Sklover

Question: Hi, Alan. I am working for a start-up company for the past six months. Around the time I started, I was promised I would get a hike in my salary after working six months.

Now that I have received the seventh month salary, I notice it is without any pay hike. And my manager refuses to give me the pay hike. What do I do?

Bangalore, Karnataka

Answer: Dear Ramya,

Your dilemma is a common one. Your question is quite welcome, because it gives me a good opportunity to explain a few things about an important subject that many people don’t understand.

1. First, determine whether a “written record” or “email trail” exists that you were promised a raise after six months. So often employees and employers have disputes about what was promised by the employer, or required of the employee, and the problem is made so much tougher because the promise or requirement was “spoken” not written. All of us, both employers and employees, sometimes honestly forget what was said. All of us, both employers and employees, sometimes don’t communicate clearly. And, sadly, both employers and employees can be dishonest. Resolving these problems is easier if there exists some “record” of what was promised or required, such as a written letter, a written agreement, or a written email.

2. If a written record does not exist, create one. If you don’t have a “written record” of what was promised to you, I suggest you send a respectful, non-confrontational email to your boss, reciting that you were promised a raise after six months, and that you would like to know when it will be provided to you. If his or her response does not deny the existence of the promise, that’s pretty good evidence that the promise was made.

You might want to obtain a Model Memo you can use to Request Monies Not Yet Paid by Your Present Employer.” To do so, simply [click here].

3. Consider what “non-monetary” items you might find just as valuable, if not more so, than the promised raise. These days, companies – and especially start-up companies – often don’t believe they have enough money for raises. In reality, there often is money in the bank, but the company believes it would be “better spent” on such items as advertising, marketing and revenue-producing items. You might give thought to asking for things that are valuable to you, but do not cost the employer money, such as time off, flexibility of schedule, or a more impressive-sounding title.

You might want to review an article I wrote entitled “Bonus or Raise Disappointing? Consider these Alternative Forms of Compensation.” To read it, just [click here.]

4. Also, consider the concept of “Triggers of Value” to get that raise. Our concept of “Triggers of Value” means “Is there anything I can do that, if I did it, would ‘trigger’ my getting that raise?” To read more about this powerful concept, I’ve written an article entitled: “For a Raise or Promotion, Use ‘Triggers of Value.'” To read it, just [click here].

5. Finally, consider whether this is the best place for you to work, and if you leave, consider filing a Claim with either a local Labor Department or Small Claims Court. Bear in mind that start-up companies often have difficulties fulfilling financial obligations. While they do offer such potential rewards as rapid advancement and chances of ownership, they also present risks from cash-flow shortages and other financial problems. You might consider whether this is something you’re comfortable with. If not, a larger employer is probably more suitable for you. If you do leave, and your raise has still not been paid to you, consider filing a complaint with your local Labor Department or Small Claims Court for what you did not receive.

Ramya, I hope this is helpful to you. Thanks for writing, and I hope you’ll tell others in Bangalore, India of what our blogsite has to offer.

Al Sklover

Not getting the compensation or advancement you want? If you are 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!

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Any suggestions for getting a Promotion or Raise?”

Published on April 12th, 2011 by Alan L Sklover

Question: Alan, I like your ideas on presenting value to your employer, especially what you call “triggers of value,” in order to get a promotion or raise. 

Do you have any suggestions for how to handle presenting what you call a “triggers of value” or similar memo to get a promotion or raise when this sort of thing is not part of the corporate culture? In the past, when following up on these types of conversations with email, management has become defensive. Thanks.

Boston, Massachusetts

Answer: Dear Paul:

Paul, thank for your very helpful question. (For those who are not familiar with using “Triggers of Value” memos when requesting raises or promotions, you can read a good summary of the topic if you [click here].) “Triggers of Value” memos are not “magic,” but they are based on a fundamental element of human nature and smart negotiating: If someone perceives you as valuable to them, they are more likely to be good to you. A “Triggers of Value” memo simply ensures that your value, and what you seek in return, is clearly known. Most commonly, this increases your chances of getting what you seek.

a. First and foremost, you are wise to observe and respect your employer’s corporate culture. If you feel that “Triggers of Value” memos violate your employer’s corporate culture, then by all means don’t use them. You’ve mentioned, in particular, that using emails in asking for a raise or promotion seems to lead to defensiveness; then by all means don’t do what doesn’t work. Instead, try to determine what does work: Conversations on the golf course? One-on-one meetings with supervisors? Letting managers know you are interviewing elsewhere? Some of your colleagues do get raises and bonuses: ask some of them how they did it. 

b. Second, perhaps your “Triggers of Value” memo is too direct and/or forceful, and not “gentle” enough. There is a big difference between, on the one hand, “I have done X, therefore I deserve Y,” and, on the other hand, “As you can see, I love this company and my job; any guidance and support you are willing to provide me regarding my ability to grow with it would be so very much appreciated.” You can also say, after an in-person meeting, quite simply, “Thanks so much for the meeting. I found it very motivating.” Nonetheless, even a simple “Thanks for the meeting” email can prove upsetting to some employers.

c. Perhaps instead of as a post-conversation “Meeting Follow-up,” you might try using a “Triggers of Value” memo as a “Pre-Meeting Agenda” memo. There are many people who, upon receiving an email AFTER a meeting, read it and say to themselves, “Hey – I didn’t say that! He (or she) is rewriting history.” To prevent that feeling in your superiors, you might try instead using your “Triggers of Value” memo pre-meeting, as respectful preparation for that meeting.

d. Consider, perhaps, an Annual “Triggers of Value” memo as part of your Annual Performance Review. Consider the possibility of using your “Triggers of Value” memo in the context of your annual review, as your response to the process. It may just seem to be more as part of “their” process, and not “your” efforts to convince them.

e. Consider making only an Oral Presentation of Your “Triggers of Value.” One suggestion may be to simply avoid the written part of a “Triggers of Value” memo, and instead lean entirely on your oral presentation, and firm handshake.

f. Lastly, remember that, at least in some companies, value is not what gets people hired, raises or promotions, but only politics count. Unfortunately, in some companies and organizations, “perceived value” is not what gets people hired, promoted, or more highly compensated. Instead, in some companies and organizations, politics and only politics make a difference in these decisions, which is entirely legal. Whether or not hiring, promotion and compensation is merit-driven or politics-driven is a very central part of an employer’s corporate culture.

Though every company and organization grew to be what it is due to the value it presented to its clients, customers or others, many do grow so large that they do remain in existence – at least for some time – by politics, and not value. But that does not work forever, and these tend to be the companies and organizations that eventually wither, die, are taken over or go bankrupt. Value, always and eternally, will determine human success, just as it does in the long run, in the natural world.

If you would like to obtain a Model Memo Requesting a Promotion based on “Triggers of Value” [click here].

Hope this helps. If so, please consider recommending us to a few of your friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media.

Best to you,

Al Sklover   

© 2011 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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