Salary and Benefits

September 23, 2013

Asking for a raise? Here's what you shouldn't say to the boss

Oh, you want a raise? Congratulations, you’re now in an elite group of American workers known informally as “everybody.”

To convince an employer to give you a raise, you must show you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty. It’s about exceeding expectations, not just meeting them. Here are a few reasons you should never give your boss when asking for more money.

'I’m buying a house'
Your upcoming financial burden is not relevant to your work performance, nor is it in any way the responsibility of your employer to pay you more simply because you have a big life event on the horizon.

Do your research

Before you ask for a raise, use NWjobs’ Salary Wizard tool to see what your position should pay.

‘I’m having a baby’
You’re expecting? Mazel tov! Bringing new life into the world is truly exciting news and you should be over the moon. Coincidentally, you must be from outer space if you think this new baby in any way entitles you to a raise at work.

When you ask for a raise. you should focus on your achievements, how those wins have benefited the company, and your plan to continue this positive trend into the future.

‘I can’t pay my bills’
Financial hardship is no joke, and it’s heartbreaking for the people going through it. But just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you deserve a raise.

When you begin salary negotiations, you want to approach it from a position of strength, focusing on all the things you bring to the table. If you lead with your financial woes and use that as a springboard to ask for more money, it seems like you’re trying to guilt your way into a pay increase.

‘I’m always on time’
This is the working world. You shouldn’t be proud just because you’re meeting the basic requirements of your job. You’re supposed to show up to work on time. Bragging about doing the things you’re already supposed to be doing just makes you look immature.

However, if you consistently show up early, stay late and can provide your boss with data showing that extra effort has paid off in a measurable way, now you’re talking.

‘I’ve never asked for a raise before’
How long you’ve been at a company doesn’t necessarily translate into success. And that alone certainly doesn’t entitle you to additional compensation. But the main reason you should avoid saying this is because it’s a trap. When you point out how long you’ve been there and couple it with the fact you’ve never gotten a raise, all you’re doing is putting it in your boss’s head that you haven’t done anything raise-worthy in years.

‘I’ve worked here for ____ years’
Seniority is nice, but it’s not enough to warrant a raise on its own.

Perhaps you were a top performer the first few years, and you were compensated for it with bonuses and raises. But what if you failed to maintain that level of success and the last few years have been mediocre at best?

Achievements from years ago have no bearing on your current raise request; it’s all about “what have you done for me lately?” Remember that when crafting your negotiating strategy.

‘My co-workers make more than I do’
Comparing yourself to your co-workers is a big mistake when negotiating salary.

Saying “I’ve been here two years; Sally was just hired, and she already makes more money than I do” is a terrible strategy. Are you really ready for your boss to tell you that Sally makes more money because she’s better at her job than you are? That Sally has more education and training than you do? That Sally negotiated her starting salary and you didn’t?

If you get a raise it should be because of the work you did and the value you add. In the end, this isn’t about Sally or anyone else, so place the focus and the emphasis where it belongs — squarely on yourself.

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