These are giddy times. The national unemployment rate is an incredibly low 3.5%.
Jobs in almost all categories are plentiful, companies are hiring, profits are up, earning power is up. Just about anyone who wants to work has a good job or can get a better one.
Isn’t it about time you asked for a raise?
It’s worth thinking about, especially as our economy keeps humming along, with only a few scattered signs of slowing down. Right now, they’re little more than annoying blips.
Of course, no one should pretend this happy-days exuberance will last forever. That’s simply not going to happen. What’s more, given the nation’s current rash of political and geopolitical rumblings, let’s just say that bubbles have been known to burst.
You may not get a raise unless you ask
On a brighter note, let’s talk about the best ways to ask for a raise. First rule is: Dare to be daring.
According to research data compiled by PayScale, the software firm that employers often use to gauge employee pay and value (which can be very different beasts), nearly two-thirds of employees have never asked for a raise.
I’m assuming that means, not ever.
Don’t let that be you, because the first tenet about asking for a raise is that you probably won’t get one unless you dare to ask.
One more stat: PayScale’s survey also revealed that 70% of those who asked for a raise, got one. Good for them.
What not to say when you’re asking for a raise
But let’s assume that even though you’re absolutely, totally, undeniably certain that you really, truly do deserve a raise, you’re not totally sure about how to go about asking for one.
“Can I have a raise?” doesn’t quite cut it.
Same with, “Do you think I deserve a raise?”
Worse, “You probably don’t think I deserve a raise, right?”
Even worse, “If you don’t give me a raise, I’m gonna quit.”
If you said that to me, I’d be inclined to point the way to the exit.
What might work better (trust me on this) is coming up with a carefully devised, concise plan that reinforces your standing in other ways besides the fact that you dared ask for more of the boss’ money.
Have a plan: After you’ve realized that you actually need one, do it. You’ll be amazed at the mental clarity that results.
· Prepare a basic one-sheet summary, which you can hand to your boss or HR director, outlining the key points of what you’re about to say.
· You might even prepare a short PowerPoint deck that makes your case on a step-by-step basis. State that case in a conversational, nonthreatening manner, relying on relevant facts and analytics, emotions not so much.
Be reasonable: Don’t ask for anything outrageous. That seems obvious, but I’ve heard some doozies over the years.
· Find out your position’s market value and then figure out, honestly, what you believe is your value.
· Instead of asking for a certain set figure, offer a range that allows for wiggle room on both sides.
Assess your chances: If your company is killing it, asking for a raise shouldn’t ruffle too many big-duck feathers. If it’s a struggling startup, chances are you and your fellow employees are fitfully anxious for that unicorn breakthrough moment. Hope springs eternal.
· Ask yourself: Am I on a rising ship or one that’s sinking? Either way, are better times coming?
· Then ask yourself: Am I stuck in a dead-end job with a dead-end company that couldn’t offer me a raise even if I were in charge of handing them out?
· Again, only you know the answers.
If all this doesn’t work, don’t forget to schedule a future come-to-Jesus meeting to see if your request has gained some legs. Say something like: “I hope we’ll be to revisit this in six (or three) months.”
Go ahead, I dare you.
Phil Blair is co-founder of Manpower San Diego and author of “Job Won.”