Editor’s note: This is a guest post from The Art of Manliness reader and my good friend, Josh Wilsie.
One of the fastest and easiest ways to increase your income is to ask for a raise. But some men’s palms get clammy just thinking about doing so. Here are five tips on how to ask (and get) the raise you deserve.
1. Just ask
Just like anything in life, you aren’t going to get what you want if you don’t ask for it. It’s the same principal as asking girls out on dates (instead of “hanging out”). You will never make any sales if you don’t make any calls. I am constantly surprised by how many of my friends and coworkers are fearful of asking for a raise because they don’t want to seem ungrateful or are afraid of getting turned down and feeling rejected.
People don’t seem to grasp the concept that you are simply selling a service to your company by being employed with them. That service is your time and your labor. If you’ve been with your company for over 6 months or up to a year and haven’t received any pay adjustments, I’d say just asking will work 75% of the time (if you’re good at your job). Learn these magic words: “I’d like to talk to you about a salary adjustment.”
2. No ultimatums
A big mistake I have heard a few people make when asking for a raise is giving ultimatums to their employers. I can’t stress enough that the workplace is a competitive environment, and while there is nothing wrong with asking for a raise, demanding one can backfire in the worst kind of way. Many managers, faced with this situation, will simply call your bluff.
Obviously if you suck at your job, or the company is losing money hand over fist, you don’t stand a snowballs chance, ultimatum or no ultimatum. If you aren’t yet sure if you are worth more, then read on, as you can do something about that too.
3. Determine your value by job browsing.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on what a fair and competitive wage is in your industry. Recruiters and online job websites can be great resources for determining what you can expect to make. Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, check out Monster.com, dice.com, and other job boards (not at work preferably). Find a similar job suited to your talents and send them your resume.
Feel them out, and if given a phone interview, ask for specifics with regard to salary range. If you know you aren’t interested because they’re not paying enough or you’re comfortable with your existing job, be upfront and courteous. Inform the person with whom you’re speaking that you’re happy with your current position (if you are) and be sure to thank them for their consideration. Hopefully you have wasted as little of their time as possible.
Remember that you aren’t indebted to your employer. You entered a business arrangement with them when you were hired. You sell them your time and labor in return for your salary. Shopping around isn’t unethical. It’s good business. Who knows? You might even go on an interview and land a great new gig.
4. Ensure people know your value
Everybody knows the brash and obnoxious “hot-shot” type at work that needs to validate his worth publicly. Everybody resents that person for it too. A real man knows the thin line between confident and cocky. Mastery of this line at work is key to proving your worth to those around you. Just as Teddy Roosevelt was famously quoted, “Speak softly, and carry a big stick, and you will go far.” Instead of trumpeting every small success you have every day, quietly get everything assigned to you done and done well.
When people around you struggle with their work, give them the help they need to get it done, unless of course you work in some ultra-competitive Glengarry Glen Ross type boiler room (Third place is: You’re fired). In that case, get a new job.
Having a “go-to” and “willing to help” attitude has a strange way of uplifting everyone around you. It increases morale and productivity. If your boss or supervisor doesn’t pick up on this and recognize this kind of leadership, get a new job.
5. Increase your value
If you are still having trouble establishing value in your position, consider learning something relevant in your free time. Not everything requires a class or course to be learned. Often times it only takes putting down Call of Duty 4 and reading about the subject. If your employer ever offers optional training or certifications, do not pass up on the opportunity. For example, I was offered an optional training course in Asterisk, an open source PBX (like Linux for phone systems) in 2006. With that course and a bit of tinkering in my free time, I became an authority on the subject. Ever since our company moved our software platform onto Asterisk, I’ve received three separate pay increases. Seriously, do everything you can to improve your worth.
Once you’re sure you have established your value as a go-to guy, it’s time to seek your reward for all that hard work. Without sounding accusatory or argumentative, let your employer know about the successes you’ve had since you’ve been at your current position. Show them projects you have spearheaded and people you have helped. Make sure they know about all the relevant job skills you’ve picked up while working there. If through conversations with others in your industry, you’ve discovered your salary isn’t competitive, let your current employer know. Win them over to your side and you’re almost guaranteed to be earning more.
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