Honestly, that depends! Let’s take a closer look at what management is looking for in divvying out raises.

I KNOW: One of the worst things an employee wants to hear is “We have a budget! My raise options are limited and must be split between all the employees eligible for a raise.”

What? Why in the world would that statement make me happy or more content with the measly amount you are offering me for all the great work I do for you?

Well, not to be the devil’s advocate here but…They do have a budget and they do have to consider every employee working under them when determining how to divvy up the budget. They are also looking at how this division benefits their overall area and goals.  Those are the facts, but they are not the end. You have a personal responsibility in your own future.  You have the power and ability to earn your fair share.  You have the choice to make good decisions for you and your future.

There are typically two times where raises are considered during your work cycle.  One is during your annual review where raises have been calculated and divvied between the staff. Sometimes this is on your annual cycle and sometimes it is on the company’s annual cycle, but the budget remains the same throughout the year.  The second time is when you feel like it is time for you to get a raise and that time happens to be outside of the annual review cycle.  Option one is your best time to ask for what you are wanting and is an easier subject to approach because it is already top of mind. The second option is really a shock and a time where the idea of paying more for employees is way outside of the minds of your leaders.

Remember too…This is about you, not them. How can you ask for a raise whether in your annual cycle or outside of your expected conversation about your salary?  For you, the process is the same no matter what cycle you are in. You should never, let me repeat that, never go into a conversation about your salary un-armed with really compelling information.  Your strong belief and emotional attachment to being unhappy is not the answer.  Let me repeat that again – you are demanding a raise because you feel you deserve one does NOT constitute you getting a raise let alone the increased friction you just created between you and your management team.

So, what should you do to ensure you are being paid what you are worth in the job you are doing?

Let’s get you prepared for that nerve-racking conversation.

These are the six things to have with you when you have a conversation about getting a raise.

First – Know your job description! If you do not know what your job states, your responsibilities are than how are you supposed to know if you are adding value or going over and above in it.

Remember, when you are doing everything your job descriptions says for you to do, you are only doing what is expected. This level of work falls into the “Satisfactory or Above categories.  It does not go into the “Exceeds expectation” category.  As a leader I expect my employees to not just do their job as described but to do it the best of their ability and to the highest level needed to benefit the company. You were hired for those specific purposes because the company needed you to perform those tasks.

Second – Know your company’s pay scale as it relates to your specific job!

If you do not already know what the company scale is set at you can request the information from you Human Resources department.  Most companies have a pay structure pre-defined for each job description.  If you are currently sitting at the high end of that scale it will be a little more difficult to justify another raise. However, when you know where you are sitting within this scale you armed with the power to make better decisions for yourself and your future.  Maybe, asking for a raise is not the answer.  Maybe, asking for the promotion plan is a better next move.

Third – Know what value you really add!  Document all “value add” and “over and above” jobs done beyond what is written on your job description!

Let’s figure out exactly what value you add to your company through the work you do. Get a journal or a timed day planner. Over the next two to four weeks write down every little thing you go throughout the day. Do not skip the simple things here, they have value as well. After the two weeks or month is over, take time to read through the list; compare everything on the list to your job description; and then highlight everything that is required in the description with a yellow highlighter, everything that is over and above but in the same line as the job description in blue highlighter, and then everything that is a special project and outside of your job description in green highlighter. Yellow is the “Satisfactory” items, blue is the “Above Satisfaction” items and the green items are your value-add items.

Fourth – Sell your value add!  List all items that would be considered Green on in professional memo or note.

Now that you know how to identify the different levels of work, you do, take time to look back over the last 12 months and list every single special project (green items) you can remember along with the ones you have just identified above. List them in a professional, presentable manner including the following information:

          • Project name
          • Project scope
          • Your responsibility in the project
          • How you added value to that project

Fifth – Sell your “Above & Beyond” value add!  Describe your “Above and Beyond” work in a summary paragraph.

Now that you know how to identify what is above and beyond (blue) items you can create a summary paragraph supporting your argument for the “Above Satisfactory” level of raise. This paragraph should be compelling and should clearly articulate how you continuously go above and beyond in your work every single day. Your boss only sees what they have time to see. They don’t know what you do or how you get your job done at the same degree of detail as you do. What they do know, is what they expect from you. It is your job to show that you are an extraordinary employee and worth more money. This paragraph will help you support your points.

Sixth – Know what the industry pay-ranges for your particular job as it relates to your geographic area!

Industry estimated pay scales are public information. Knowing what is standard for the job you perform empowers you with confidence in asking for the raise. You can google “average salaries for a secretary in West Palm Beach FL” and many salary calculators and estimates will come up. Be sure to double check the date of publication because you want the most recent and newest data possible. You can then take it one step further and compare the job responsibilities under each salary estimate to what you actually do. There are no two jobs that are identical, but you can see the level of work needed within each job descriptions as it compares to what you are already doing.

These are the six most important things you should do before asking for a raise. I would even go so far as to recommend you keep a working journal all year long. Documenting jobs done, work highlights, job challenges, how you handled each and more. Going into a meeting about your future without taking the time to prepare yourself is only asking for personal disappointment.

Now, let me be very clear hear. Even after doing everything I recommend in this post; it does not mean you will get that raise. I read a little story recently, though I do not remember from where, that really makes this process clear. It went something like this:

 “A young woman has diligently worked for years in the same job. Put her whole heart into her work every single day. One day in her frustrated state, after praying day in and day out for some relief, she heard the voice of God say, “Ask for a raise!” Ask for a raise? She thought to herself. I can’t ask for a raise! There is a budget, I make good money already, they will never go for it, it’s not the right time of year, and on and on, she made excuse after excuse arguing against God’s voice. She prayed and spoke to God again voicing all her concerns. During the night, she heard him say again “Ask for a raise!” She jumps out of bed in sheer shock and says okay! She goes through the process of justifying her raise, makes an appointment to speak to her manager, braves the conversation and asks. A few days later her manager called her into the office and says, “I am sorry, but the raise was denied.”  What? She thought to herself.  I was so sure because God told me to do this. Why God did you have me go through all this work and humiliation of asking for a raise and then deny it to me? God spoke tenderly and said, “Now, my child, you know you can, and you know your worth! Choose now to be happy where you are or find somewhere else that will pay you your worth!”

Sometimes it is just going through the process that allows you to see what you are truly worth. Empowering you to make the right choices for yourself, your family, and your future.