4 Tips on How to Ask For a Raise in a Recession

by Rich DeMatteo on September 9, 2009 · 2 comments

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stinky-face-manAsking for a raise in normal economic conditions can be a bit hairy, but doing so in our current economic state just stinks.  During tough times, some believe it’s career suicide to have a discussion about salary with a supervisor.  That may be the case, but if you truly are underpaid, as well as a top performer in the company, then you certainly need to give it a shot.  So, how do you do it?

4 Tips on how to ask for a raise in a recession:

  1. Know your company – If your organization is struggling to stay in business, or is filing for bankruptcy, now isn’t the time.  Print this article out, bookmark Corn on the Job, or subscribe to my RSS feed and just come back to me later.  Those working in a financially stable, or somewhat financially stable company should begin to research their company financials, goals, and any challenges the organization faces in dealing with the economy.  During a recession it’s not uncommon for companies to put a temporary halt to raises and promotions.  Take this into consideration when debating on asking for a raise.  If you truly feel you are a top performer, than you still have a shot.
  2. Know your market value – Check a few online salary calculators.  Click here to see a few.  Make friends with some HR folk and see if they can share some salary data with you.  HR at your company won’t share that information with you, so hop on LinkedIn, and see if you can connect with a compensation specialist.
  3. Know your accomplishments – What have you done well?  Write it all down.  Positive experiences with customers (internal and external), projects you’ve lead, money that you’ve saved the company.  If you can show any form of Return on Investment (ROI) in projects, than you are golden.  Showing your supervisor where you’ve saved money is always your best bet, especially in a poor economy.
  4. Set up a Plan B – OK, so you prepared yourself well, but it looks like you need a Plan B.  Maybe the company just doesn’t have the money, or it could be that you haven’t showed your supervisor that you’re the cats pajamas.  You need to be prepared for to hear, “No.”  Set up a meeting in 6 months, and set up goals and expectations with your supervisor.  Find out what needs to be done in order to warrant a raise.  Focus the next 6 months  (or whatever time frame is decided) of your life on completing the goals and objectives set by your manager/supervisor.  When time passes by and you meet with your supervisor again you’ll be able to show you’ve completed each objective.  If you don’t receive your raise at that point, then maybe it’s time to start looking elsewhere.
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Andrew Parkes
Andrew Parkes

This is great advice, Rich - awesome. I think #3 is key - having a list of accomplishments and the $ that were saved (or earned) through them will really show a company if the employee deserves more money than standard. I would also advise someone to take #3 further by suggesting 2-3 initiatives that could save the company $ or increase revenues over the next 12 months. AND that he or she is the right person to implement them.