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Get that Raise!

“There’s no way I could ask my boss for a raise – I’d blow it for sure, and then where would I be?” Sound familiar? In the last few years, many Americans have seen their salaries stagnate or even decline.

Getting a raise is not as simple as it may appear. A recent USA Today survey reported that 20% of all male employees and 24% of all female employees went to their bosses and asked for a raise. But lots of them failed! 59% of the women got a “NO” and 41% of men did, so learning the success formula before you talk to your boss can greatly improve your chances of achieving your goal.

So exactly what critical mistakes did people make when talking to employers about a raise? Here are the major ones:

#1 – Assuming longevity entitles you to a raise
#2 – Needing a raise because you bought a new house, car or had a baby
#3 – Threatening to quit or refusing to do the project
#4 – Stating that some other employee got a raise so you want one too

Even in a tough economy you can land a raise if you:


  • Quantify your worth. Use salary surveys and job comparisons to support your suggested compensation level. Research your organization’s policies and step grades. Look into whether or not your duties can be re-classified as a promotion which can be way to get around wage freezes.
  • Provide Proof. Charts can be very persuasive. Create one that details new job duties and responsibilities you’ve taken on that warrant a step up in pay. Sometimes a raise comes in tandem with a much deserved promotion, once you clearly illustrate how you are now working at a higher level.
  • Prepare a Persuasive Pitch. Know your value and that you are worthy of it. Be sincere and make it a win/win approach – the company retains a great employee as a benefit of these negotiations. Role-play your request with a colleague or friend. Go over it several times until you are comfortable with the request. Identify any objections you think your boss is likely to make and prepare solid answers. Then role play dealing effectively with the objections.
  • Timing is critical to success. Be sure to pick a time when your boss is likely to be receptive and more positive. Know your boss; adjust your request to his/her personality and operations style. Remain positive throughout the encounter. Expect that your boss will need to either think about your request or discuss it with upper management. Don’t push it if there’s no immediate response. And if the answer is NO, ask exactly what is required to get a raise. You may have hit a ceiling as to what this particular job is worth to your employer.
  • Jump ship for the BIGGEST increases. The largest salary increases come from savvy salary negotiations when job hunters accept a new job. Internal raises rarely exceed 5-8% but major increases – 20%, 40%, even 50%, – come from jumping ship and selling yourself more effectively to a new company. New employers are offering top dollar just to insure you’ll join their team. So if your employer doesn’t come through, your ace in the hole is to try to land a new job with a much higher salary somewhere else.

    Robin Ryan has appeared on Oprah, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, CNN, CNBC and is considered America’s top career coach. She is the best-selling author of: 60 Seconds & You’re Hired!; Winning Resumes; Winning Cover Letters, and What to Do with the Rest of Your Life. She’s the creator of the highly acclaimed audio training program Interview Advantage and The DreamMaker. Robin’s passion is helping people find better jobs which she successfully does through her career counseling practice where she offers individual career coaching and resume writing services. A popular national speaker, Robin has spoken to over a thousand audiences on improving their lives and obtaining greater success. To purchase products or contact Robin visit her Web site at
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