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The Real Reason You Should Ask for a Raise

Topics: Negotiation
ask for a raise

Over half of respondents to PayScale’s survey said they’d never negotiated salary. Why? For the most part, it was because of fear.

Of respondents who didn’t negotiate, 28 percent said that they were uncomfortable negotiating salary, while 19 percent said that they didn’t want to be perceived as pushy. Eight percent said they were afraid of losing their jobs.

If you’ve been holding back because you’re afraid to negotiate, here’s one excellent reason why you should ask for a raise:

It’ll almost certainly cost your employer more to lose you than to give you a raise.

How much more? Well, according to research from the Society of Human Resources Management, it costs anywhere from six to nine months’ worth of your salary to recruit and train a replacement. So if you’re a software engineer making the national median annual salary of $81,829, it might cost your employer over $40,000 to hire someone to fill your job.

Of course, even with that knowledge, you can’t just storm into your boss’s office and demand your worth. Instead:

Make sure that you stay competitive.

Not to start out on a scary note, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer one caveat right off the bat. While it’s true that it’s usually more expensive to replace an employee than to retain one, it’s important to continue building value as an employee.

That means keeping up with the latest technologies and being flexible. If you don’t, you might find yourself competing with younger, cheaper new hires who are easier to coach.

Here’s an example from a manager who commented in a Reddit post on this topic:

I’m a manager of up to 12 front-line employees. On the latest scorecard, two of my first-year technicians did better than two-thirds of my technicians who have 10-plus years’ experience.

I took over this crew a year ago. My new guys are hungry and strive to improve and impress. Two of my three tenured guys won’t accept coaching without extreme pushback because they’re “experienced and know what they’re doing.”

Tenure doesn’t automatically equate to profitable and worthwhile.

If that gave you a chill, consider this: how valuable would you be, as a tenured employee with institutional knowledge, growing skills and flexibility? Pretty much irreplaceable.

Do your research.

When you do ask for a raise, make sure you know what your skills are worth on the job market. That means getting facts, not just salary gossip from your coworkers in the break room.

The PayScale Salary Survey will give you a free report with a salary range based on your job title, experience, skills and location. Then you can base your negotiation on facts, not hearsay.

Choose the right time for your request.

Believe it or not, review time is not the best time to ask for a raise. For one thing, budgets are often closed, which means that your manager might be stuck giving you the standard 3 percent increment — even if he or she would like to give you more.

The better option? Ask for a raise after a win. At Forbes, Liz Ryan suggests a few times to ask for a raise, including “[w]hen you have just finished a major project successfully and are about to take on another major project.”

Regardless of when you decide to ask, the most important thing is to be respectful of your manager’s time. Don’t spring your request on them. Set up a meeting specifically to discuss compensation, and come prepared to make your case.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

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Have you successfully negotiated a raise? We want to hear from you. Tell us how you did you it in the comments or come talk to us on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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