How to ask for a raise in an uncertain economy


Asking your boss for a raise is daunting when the direction of the economy is in question.

But experts say that even in an uncertain economy like this one, most employers are apt to retain and reward their top talent. After all, hiring is still a challenge and while some people are losing their jobs, the quit rate — the number of workers voluntarily leaving their roles — remains high.

"If there's been significant turnover at your organization — whether voluntary or involuntary — your company may be worried about retaining you," Roy Cohen, author of "Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide" and a career coach, told Insider. "You have a lot of value."

Overall raises are forecast to be 4.6% in 2023, according to a report that WTW, a business consulting company, published late last year. The report was based on a survey of 1,550 organizations that WTW conducted in October and November of 2022.

If you're going to ask for a raise, you need a game plan. Insider spoke with six experts on how to figure out when to make the ask, how best to make the case to your boss, and what to do if you don't get the answer you want.

Find your time

There's a misconception that you need to have gotten a promotion or completed something "really big" at work to even ask for a raise, Liz Tilia, the career expert and founder of a career and life coaching business, Fem Home Ec., previously told Insider

In reality, incremental progress is often how people grow in their roles and it should be rewarded, Tilia said. As long as you can justify your reasoning with a proven track record of how you used your skills to make the company better — more profitable or more competitive — you have a case. That said, milestones can be helpful: asking for a raise on the heels of a newly completed successful project bolsters your position.

Asking for a raise can also be a matter of timing and when you need to make more money, said Kelly Lannan, a senior vice president at Fidelity. 

It can be nerve-racking to ask for more money, but at a time when inflation is affecting Americans' cost of living, it's not something to be embarrassed about. 

The key to landing a raise is understanding your company's promotion cycle and performing well, according to Julia Firestone, a career coach, and consultant.

"If you've met all of your goals and gone beyond them, I think it's appropriate to express that you'd like to talk about a raise really any time," she said. 

Do your due diligence

Next, you need to develop an understanding of your value in the job market, Tilia said. Data is key. Experts recommend comparing your job description with your workload and responsibilities, as well as other companies' listings for similar positions. Additionally, look at pay data for your job title on websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed, which have a trove of employee-reported salary ranges and estimates.   

"Treat the act of asking for a promotion like a project," Sarah Doody, the founder of the job search and career accelerator company Career Strategy Lab, told Insider. Based on the research you do for this "project" prepare a presentation, she said. 

Your presentation should highlight the value you've added to your company, and provide evidence of this contribution, she said. One way to identify the achievements and the progress you've made since starting in your position is to update your résumé, Doody added. 

Many people join a company in a role and at a pay level that, eight to 12 months later, doesn't reflect the level of work they are doing, Tilia said. This happens more frequently in a high-turnover job market because employees might not always get replaced right away. "You were hired as a coordinator, and now you're acting as a manager, but you still have the coordinator title and pay," she added. 

So, you need to ask your boss to be compensated and titled as a manager, she said. As you make the ask, Tilia recommended not using the word, "raise," but rather, "title and pay adjustment." Semantics are important. 

Make your pitch

Your case for a raise involves a mix of metrics that show your value, actions that demonstrate your commitment to your job, and a bit of horn-tooting — or what Cohen refers to as "personal evangelism." 

In a softening economy, it's also important to show that you know what's what, he said. If your company has recently had layoffs or experienced heightened turnover, you need to show how the loss of your colleagues has expanded your work.

He recommended saying something like: "I love what I do and I hope you agree I'm doing it well. Now that my position has been saved, but others have been terminated, my workload has increased. I hope that some of those cost savings can be diverted to me."

Be prepared to show proof of your productivity — and for pushback. Your boss might tell you that you're lucky you still have a job. "But remember, you have leverage," Cohen said. "If what you're doing is valuable to your organization, you're likely to be valuable elsewhere."

If at first, you don't succeed…

You might not get the raise that you want. If the answer is no, experts advise asking for feedback about the specific things you need to do to achieve the level of performance that warrants a raise. 

Also, ask for a follow-up meeting on the topic, and advised Tori Dunlap, a personal finance expert and founder of a consultancy that helps women reach pay parity, Her First 100K. She previously recommended, saying something like: "Thank you for having this conversation with me. I would love to set a time to revisit this conversation. Would the end of next quarter be a possibility?" 

When an immediate raise is not in the cards, Doody recommended countering with requests for different types of perks. You might, for example, negotiate a professional development budget, more work-from-home days, or a gym membership, she said. 

Remember, too, that getting a "no" isn't a reflection of your professional worth. "So many people take these rejections so seriously," Doody said. "But a lot of times employees are not privy to the financial reasons why they can't offer you a raise right now." 

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post