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The following is a guest post from Michael German. Enjoy!
The old adage that nothing is for certain except uncertainty resounds nowhere stronger than in today’s erratic job market. The figures are frightening; even when they jump slightly, most Americans today realize that the jump has more to do with people’s unemployment benefits expiring than it has with any real upturn in the employment picture.
We are told to be grateful that we have a job; that we should praise the heavens for the opportunity to stay chained to a desk for ten hours a day and jump at the whims of our over-educated yet highly under-qualified boss. And now you want a raise?
The Prospect of Getting a Raise
Having the audacity to ask for a raise is virtually career suicide these days, no matter how much you may truly deserve one. At best, your request will be greeted with mutters about the economy, at worst you will be laughed out of the office. Even companies not necessarily depressed by the economy have found that using the dreadful economy as a way to stave off raises and reduce the workforce is a Godsend. Imagine, being able to freeze salaries, lay off a nice proportion of your workforce, and at the same time have your remaining employees ever thankful to take on more work for the same pay, and all you have to do is say one word: economy. Lucky for them, but you still need to earn more money.
How to Negotiate a Raise
The best way to increase your job’s value is to increase your worth to the company for which you work. Guaranteed yearly raises are becoming a thing of the past. Most organizations these days offer instead, merit increases, meaning that your salary will be raised only if your performance has been raised from last year. The bar is raised every year, so you must strive to be not only the best you can be, but better than you were last year. While no one likes to admit it, but there are many who simply work by habit, bringing nothing new to their game year in and year out. These non-inspired employees fared as well as anyone under the old yearly raise system, but are sure to be left behind under the merit system.
Try to be the best at what you do. While not everyone can be the best at what they do, don’t worry, because most people are not even trying to be the best, and there are always situations where some coworker just has the knack, a gift that makes doing their job seem effortless for them. Instead of resenting those who can bang out work in an instant, try to learn from them, often they simply know a few shortcuts of which you weren’t aware. Also, even within the job description that you may share with fellow employees, there may be a single aspect that you can master better than anyone else, get a reputation as the best at something in the process. This will provide you will leverage when asking for an increase.
When It’s Time to Move On…
If there is just no way your company is willing to offer you some increase for all your hard work and perseverance, you may want to consider moving on. Some companies just refuse to raise a salary no matter how you profit the company, and some jobs simply aren’t very well-valued – but they may be somewhere else. If you‘ve made it a habit to network with those in your field maybe it’s time to utilize those connections. If you haven’t, start now. This also holds true for those considering striking out on their own.
Starting Your Own Business
Sometimes starting your own business seems the best answer. Now is the time all that networking can really pay off, as many companies under strict budgets which do not allow for hiring additional employees often outsource work to freelancers. This can be a great source of income until you have your own business up and running. Do be careful though, being your own boss is often a much more appealing in theory than in practice; anyone who has been there will tell you it is a twenty-four hour job. You will be sweating every dollar, as opposed to sitting and collecting that guaranteed weekly paycheck. Needless to say, start planning early, put some money on the side, and to keep finances straight, apply for a business credit card.
With any luck, your business will grow, and perhaps soon, you will be the one making the decision on who does and doesn’t get a raise. It may not be the circle of life, but it is at least the circle of business.
How about you all? Have you ever negotiated a raise with your boss or bosses? How did it go? What approach did you take? Do you feel that companies are using the bad economy as an excuse for not being as good to their employees?
Share your experiences by commenting below!
Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.
- @ The flaws and inaccuracies in today’s unemployment figures/calculations –
- First off, I just want to say that this post brings up a lot of good points for us as working employees to keep in mind. It’s all too easy to get caught up in our job and forget to sort of “take care of our own interests.”
- Next, I’ll definitely agree that the unemployment facts (and the formulas that generate them) are far from perfect, as the stats ONLY include people that are ACTIVELY looking for jobs (not the ones that have given up after trying for X number of years).
- @ Asking for a raise being looked on as career suicide and the grim outlook on today’s job market –
- I am not in total agreement with the sort of grim outlook on employee/employer relationships expressed above.
- In my opinion, companies truly are hurting, and simply do not have the money to give raises that they may have used to possess.
- Also, I would not consider asking for a raise to be career suicide. If you can legitimately display that you benefit the company enough and subsequently ask for a raise in a very professional and courteous way, I think that at worst, the only thing your boss will do is say “no.”
- @ Yearly raises and bonuses shrinking in recent years –
- I am in agreement with the idea expressed in this post about yearly bonuses and raises being decreased in recent years.
- When I worked for a few years out of undergraduate studies for a Fortune 500 company, I was somewhat surprised with how hard it was to be recognized and compensated for hard/good work. It seemed to me that raises and promotions were more based on 1) time at the company and 2) how many times you moved around to different jobs. Don’t get me wrong, I was really happy at the company and enjoyed my time there, but I just was a little surprised with how hard it was to get noticed for good work.
- @ The best and easiest way to get a raise and promotion –
- As mentioned in the previous point, in my opinion, the best and quickest way to rise through the ranks in today’s job market is simple – move around to different jobs in different geographic locations in different companies as MUCH as possible.
- @ Whether it’s more profitable to be your own boss or work for a company –
- The distinction and differences between how much money you can make by being an employee versus starting your own company are quite interesting.
- In my opinion, if you want to make the most money possible over a short period of time, the best way to do this stay as an employee at a company.
- Starting your own business can be a good, interesting alternative and can also present promising prospects for long term profits. However, starting your own business is much more risky, is not for everyone, and is not a “get rich quick” method.
***Photo courtesy of http://farm1.static.flickr.com/26/61056391_31343afdc6.jpg