Throughout your career, you are definitely going to encounter a situation where you feel entitled to a salary raisebut have not been offered one. Learning how and when to ask for a raise is the first towards taking control of one’s future and career. Unfortunately in these tough economic times, raises are not always freely given, in fact sometimes we feel like we are fighting for it. Capitalizing on successes and highlighting your ability to make a difference can often be parlayed in to raises. The trick is to know when to strike. First, decide just when to ask for a raise. This can be tricky. Many employees opt to only ask for a raise on a yearly basis, but it is possible and sometimes even suggested, to ask for raises on a more frequent basis. When trying to determine the best time to ask for a raise, consider the following:
Is your employer financially secure? Even if your company announce it’s earnings from the rooftop, it is generally possible to determine if they are secure or experiencing cash flow difficulties. Obviously asking for a raise when a company is strapped for cash is not a great idea.
Has your employer recently won new business, reached a sales goal or other milestone? If so, it is often best to ask for a raise as soon as possible – especially if you contributed to the success.
Have you recently done something to change your company in a positive way? Finishing a large project, winning a new client or developing a helpful program for the company can make you shine and is the best way to successfully ask for a raise.
Once you have determined the perfect time to ask for a raise, you next need to learn how to do so in an appropriate manner that is professional but also persuasive (minus the chocolates and sucking up). Remember to keep all communications regarding your request positive, and be prepared for a ‘no’ or an offer that is less than you expected.
When asking for a raise, remember that your best weapon is your record of successful accomplishments. Properly documenting and presenting them is critical towards a successful request. Carefully and concisely outlining your accomplishments as well as your growth is the first step towards asking for a raise. Finally, always remember that professionalism is key. Because of this, it is vital that an employee not ignore the management structure of their organization. Every employee should first approach their manager or supervisor with their salary raise increase request. Jumping ahead is little more than stepping on the toes of the manager and will likely not result in a raise.
If you are not satisfied with cost of living or non-existent raises, don’t be afraid to approach your manager about your needs. An employee who recognizes their strengths and contributions and is willing to learn and grow is an asset to any organization – raises simply make sense. Find the best time to present your request and documentation and you will likely see your salary increase.
With unemployment rates still looking dismal, it’s important to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. One easy way to do this is to learn what the biggest mistakes job seekers make are, and how you can avoid them. Paying this extra attention to each part of the job seeking process should increase your appeal dramatically. One of the biggest mistakes made early on is failing to network. It’s important to know that networking isn’t a simple cold and impromptu request for work. It’s building relationships that will be beneficial in the long run, if not the immediate future. Since the majority of jobs aren’t actually listed, networking can be a great gateway into the workforce. And while it’s very important to network, it’s just as important to remain tactful. If you meet or know someone who works for a company you’re interested in, for example, ask them about the hiring process and the work environment; don’t ask them for a reference. Throughout the entire job process you’ll want to be creative. Networking is no exception.
Apart from networking, there are other ways to expand your options. There are the classifieds, of course, but you should also keep in mind that employers often post job listings on their websites. To find these you can go directly to a company’s website or perform a search for the company name and the word job, career, or employment. If the company you’re interested in doesn’t have any listings, consider either mailing or dropping off in person your resume and cover letter.
Resumes are, unsurprisingly, another source of huge mistakes. It’s important that your resume is focused and detailed. People often send out the exact same resume to every posting they see, but this is ineffective. To avoid this mishap take a little time to tailor your resume to each position you’re interested in. Familiarize yourself with the language used in the job listing and on the company’s website and then use it in your resume (and cover letter). This will help convince them that you are familiar with and, maybe, an ideal match for the company. In the very least, it demonstrates you’re applying out of a genuine interest in the position and company, not out of desperation.
Another way to keep your resume focused is to avoid listing broad job responsibilities and activities on your resume. Instead, you want to list specific accomplishments, contexts, and quantities. It’s much more impressive to hear that someone increased profits by 7 percent in a period where competitors all saw a decline than to hear that the same person “helped avoid unnecessary expense.” Objectives, though not necessary, can be a great resume unifier. If you do decide to list an objective, make sure you state how you’ll benefit the company and not vice versa.
The mistakes made during the interview fall into the same category as those made in the resume. Too often people just aren’t specific enough or knowledgeable about the employer they’re applying with. The interview is your chance to drive home the fact that you are the solution to the company’s problem. You should know in advance how you fit in with the company’s future plans and adequately express this in the interview.
Finally, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re alone in this. There are plenty of resources available. There’s probably at least one support group for jobseekers in your area. These groups can be a great way to network and keep focus. Focus and common sense are, after all, two traits to keep strong during your search.