The old adage of being “overworked and underpaid” still rings true for many of today’s professionals. Honestly speaking, no one ever thinks they’re being paid enough. But the reality is that many professionals aren’t paid what they deserve, and work with employers for years with no pay increase. Now that cost-of-living increases have become a thing of the past, the desire for a higher salary is often justified but oftentimes not satisfied.
Most professionals don’t have the courage to ask for a raise, feeling grateful just to have a job. But, find the courage to ask for what you deserve, and take these key steps to do just that:
Do a self-evaluation. What has your track record been since you started with the company? Have you been late often? Do you complete tasks on time? How does your work compare with that of your colleagues? Have you gone above and beyond or just done the bare minimum? These are all factors to consider before asking for a raise. Then, document a list of your accomplishments, productivity, and cost savings to present to your employer during the meeting. It’s also a good idea to bring in your past employee evaluations, which indicate the employer’s satisfaction with your performance and work ethic. Build a case for yourself by finding as much qualitative and quantitative evidence as possible to support your claim for deserving a higher salary. You want to be sure that your request for a raise is based primarily on your performance, and not just the holes in your pockets.
Research the market pay rates for your job. It’s not very smart to ask for $50,000 for a job that pays only $35,000, even in the best markets. You’ll want to research the average, lowest, and top pay grades for your position. Be sure to take into consideration your location, levels of education and experience when doing your research. Websites such as Salary.com and Salaryexpert.com offer easy-to-use tools for salary calculation. Then, establish a salary increase goal that is well-supported by your research and ideally indisputable by your employer.
Have a backup plan. While your accomplishments and thorough research should win your employer over, there are often times when companies and organizations either aren’t willing or financially able to pay you what you deserve. This is when it becomes your responsibility to take matters into your own hands. This might mean that you’ll have to make tough choices. You may decide to look for a higher salary elsewhere, find a part-time job, or start that small business you’ve always dreamed about.
Your schedule, family, and community obligations will determine which route is best for you to consider. A single mother with two small children probably wouldn’t consider taking a part-time night job. She might, however, look into a home-based business where she can earn additional income. Maybe you’ve got a hobby that can make you some extra cash. Or, you might be ready to take a step out on faith and leave your employer altogether. It doesn’t really matter what your plan is. What’s most important is that you have one.
A capable and skilled professional should never feel obligated to continue working for an employer without proper compensation. You deserve the best salary, and you shouldn’t give up until you get it!
Aisha Taylor (@realTAYLORmade) is co-owner and chief consultant at TAYLORmade Professional Career Consulting, a Web-based, full-service career consulting company committed to “equipping, preparing, and empowering today’s professional” globally. Check out her weekly insights on job-seeking and interviewing success every Friday on BlackEnterprise.com.