What You Need To Do Before Asking For A Raise At Work

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First Paycheck

These four things can lead to some extra zeroes on your paycheck.

I want to start this by saying I’m not planning on asking for a raise any time soon, so don’t worry, Warren. (FYI, that’s my boss.)

But, as most people are, I’m planning to ask for a raise eventually. You may be thinking about this future as well, as 2014 comes to an end. After speaking to some people whose opinions I value dearly—my coworkers, people I look up to in my industry, and my mom—I’ve learned that the time to start planning to ask for a raise isn’t when you want a raise. It’s right after you got the first one (or in my case right after you get hired).

Here are four things you should do in the planning process.

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1. Know Industry Averages

Yes, I’d like to be making $100K, and honestly, with a 7 a.m. start and crazy hours, sometimes I feel like I should be making that—while other times I feel like minimum wage would be more than enough. (Again, no worries Warren.)

However, that would be a ridiculous amount of money to make in my first year in the marketing world. Why do I know this? Because I Googled it.

There are a lot of great websites that compute industry averages based on years of experience and title, like Salary.com. Using these will give you a good idea of what you should be making and when it might be appropriate to ask for a raise.

2. Develop Goals With Your Employer

Within the first month of starting my new job, I sat down with my boss and discussed quarterly goals. This not only allowed me to know what my priorities were at my new job and what I needed to do to impress my new boss, but it also told me what I should be recording.

I started a spreadsheet that tracks which goals I’ve hit and which ones I’m exceeding. When you sit down with your boss and you have hard data that shows how you’ve exceeded expectations on a consistent basis, it’s much easier to make the argument that you’re probably worth more than your employer originally thought.

3. Know What Your Job Title Really Means

An entry-level employee in any field makes the least amount of money, but most people assume that someone in an entry-level position isn’t taking on managerial tasks. Keep track of daily tasks you do that fit in with another job description.

This tactic got me a raise at a minimum wage job I had in college. I started at a coffee shop as a staff barista. As I continued working there, I was entrusted with training other employees and closing and opening the shop. This was something that was previously only trusted to shift managers. I made this argument to my boss, and he bumped up my rate of pay as a result.

4. Freelance

This is a golden strategy if you work in a field with freelancing opportunities. Compute what your current hourly rate of pay is. Determine what you want it to be. Take freelancing jobs at that rate of pay or higher.

If you can argue that you’re getting a higher rate of pay for the same work elsewhere, it will probably help convince your company that what you’re asking for is reasonable. In fact, this freelancing gig with SALT™ is how I got my current starting pay at the company I work for now!

Have you asked for a raise in the past? What helped you prepare? 

(Photo: Andy Nguyen)

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