Seventy-five percent of respondents to PayScale’s survey who asked for a raise received some sort of pay increase. But even knowing that might not be enough to make you feel comfortable with the idea of asking the boss for more money.
You wouldn’t be alone: 28 percent of people who didn’t ask said they were uncomfortable negotiating salary, while 8 percent said they were afraid of losing their job.
Waiting for karma to sort out your next raise probably isn’t going to work. Raises at many organizations hover around 3 percent; average wages for employed U.S. workers increased 2.4 percent over the past year, according to The PayScale Index. At that rate, your pay might not even keep pace with inflation.
Still don’t feel like asking your current employer for a raise? You have options:
1. Upskill yourself.
First things first: Before you totally reject the idea of asking for a raise where you are, consider whether adding to your skillset might make you a more valuable asset. PayScale’s Salary Survey can tell you which skills are associated with higher pay in your field, and how adding those skills will affect your pay. Boost your credentials, and you could find yourself feeling a lot more comfortable asking for a pay increase.
8% of workers who'd never negotiated salary were afraid that they'd be fired for asking.
2. Change jobs.
No one likes a job hopper, right? Well, not quite. While hiring managers will be suspicious of a candidate who changes jobs every year for several years in a row, it’s also true that the typical employee tenure isn’t as long as you might think — a median of just 4.2 years in January 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from 4.6 years two years earlier.
Further, changing jobs is one of the best ways to get a pay boost. And there seems to be a sweet spot for maximizing pay over time. At Quartz, Oliver Stanley writes:
ADP, the payroll processing company, analyzed salary information for 24 million private-sector workers, including those who switched employers, in the first quarter of 2016. They found the biggest salary bump comes after employees stay put at least two years, but not more than five. The longer you stay past five years, the less growth you’ll see in pay at your next employer.
3. Negotiate when you take a new gig.
The best part about changing jobs? Hiring managers are expecting you to negotiate, so you don’t need to worry that your request will be a surprise. Even if they can’t offer you a substantial salary increase, you might be able to angle for benefits and perks like additional vacation time or a flexible schedule.
But don’t go straight for the non-monetary benefits. In a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, 45 percent of hiring managers said that they were willing to negotiate starting salary — but nearly half of workers never asked.
4. Get another job offer.
This one works only if you’re willing to take the job. Don’t bluff your boss with an offer you don’t intend to take (or that doesn’t exist). You could make a compelling case, only to find out that budgets are closed.
But if you’re lucky enough both to like your present job and have a job offer in hand, it’s worth it to go back to your boss to see if you can get a pay bump where you are.
5. Push for pay transparency.
Maybe the problem isn’t that you feel underpaid, but that you have no idea where you stand in relation to your coworkers. (And wisely, you’ve chosen not to believe hearsay, which can be misleading to say the least.)
If this is your situation, and you have a little bit of pull, you might consider pushing for pay transparency as a company policy.
What is pay transparency? PayScale’s VP of Content Strategy, Lydia Frank, explains:
Being more transparent about pay doesn’t have to mean posting everyone’s salary for all to see, though there are some companies that go that far. What it does mean is employees having an understanding of their company’s compensation philosophy, strategies and practices. What labor market is the company competing in for talent? (In some cases, it may be more than one. For positions that are in high-demand, the company may decide to go up market to compete against bigger, local companies for talent.) Is the company aiming to meet or exceed the competition when it comes to pay? What compensation data sources does the company use to evaluate the market? What is the range for your position at your company and where do you fall within it? How are raises determined / awarded?
In short, it’s way to make sure that every employee knows why they’re earning their particular salary. One happy consequence: pay disparities become more obvious, making it easier for companies to close them (or more difficult not to, depending on your level of cynicism). It might even get you a raise.
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