Tips for getting that raise you deserve

On the Job

Working

October 11, 2006|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,Sun Columnist

I recently got a nice pay raise. I didn't have to negotiate for one because my salary increase was guaranteed under a contract.

But how many of you think you deserve a raise, only to hear these words from the boss: "We can't afford it." Workers said getting a raise was their No. 1 priority this year, according to a New Year resolution survey by Adecco Staffing North America.

Here's the bad news: Next year, increases for salaries are expected to remain relatively unchanged at 3.7 percent, according to Hewitt Associates, a global human resources firm. Raises have not generally kept up with the rate of inflation - 3.8 percent in the past 12 months ending in August, according to government data. (Feel free to complain now.)

Some companies have replaced across-the-board salary increases with performance-based pay.

But that doesn't mean you should settle for little or no raise if you believe you're worth more. You could snag a raise by making a strong case to your boss, especially now, when the labor market is tight, experts say.

Here are some tips:

Do your homework. Research the market salary for your position and experience. There are plenty of salary surveys and data out there. Job search engine www.indeed.com recently launched a new function where workers can retrieve salary data by titles and certain skills, such as foreign language or certification.

Get prepared for the meeting by putting together a list of your accomplishments. Give specific examples of successful projects or better-than-expected sales. Steve Schneiders, a director at Sudina Search, a recruiting firm in Timonium, says workers need to show the value they bring to the organization.

"You have to have concrete evidence," he says. "You can't just say, `I deserve it because I worked hard.' "

In some cases, an alternative job offer or interest from other recruiters can help boost your case. But be very careful in how you use this potential leverage because it can backfire. Paul Forster, chief executive officer of indeed.com, says you don't want to come off as blackmailing your employer.

And if you still don't get a raise, Forster suggests asking for other perks, such as more vacation time or further training and educational opportunities. Forster says additional skills and training will increase a worker's value and "justify a raise when the company is in a position to pay it."

From the mailbag: Tracy, a reader from Philadelphia, wrote about a work quandary.

She was fired from a job a year ago when a personal emergency forced her to miss working an event that was mandatory.

Now, Tracy says she has an interview with the same company but a different department. Should she go on the interview? If she does, should she come clean about her employment history with the company?

Eileen Levitt, president of the HR Team in Columbia, who frequently interviews job candidates, questions why Tracy wants to work there considering that "apples - in this case managers - don't fall far from trees."

But Levitt says Tracy should be honest if she goes on the interview.

"That way, when she runs into her old boss, her new one will have all the details, and it will take away the old boss' ability to diminish her in the eyes of her new manager," Levitt says.

Have you been successful getting a raise? And what else is on your mind about life at work? Send your stories, tips and questions to working@baltsun.com. Please include your first name and your city.

On the job is published Monday at www.baltimoresun.com. Hanah Cho's podcast can be found at www.baltimoresun.com/onthejob

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