Breaking the Raise Drought: How to Secure Your Well-Deserved Salary Increase

by Susan Mullin

salary increase in a graph

For years, you’ve eagerly awaited the holiday season, not for office parties or happy hours, but for the hope of a raise and career progression. Yet, it’s become an annual ritual of receiving a ‘well done’ and the promise of promotion that never quite materializes. As your responsibilities have grown over the years, so has your frustration with a stagnant salary. It’s time to break free, advocate for yourself, and turn those promises into tangible career rewards. In this blog, we’ll guide you through asking for a raise after years of waiting and providing strategies to secure the recognition and compensation you deserve, even in a challenging job market.

Why aren’t you getting a raise?

In larger corporations, complex hierarchies and internal politics can create a considerable divide between top leadership and lower-level employees. If your manager doesn’t advocate for a raise on your behalf, you might find yourself in a stagnant position, with no change in your salary. Various factors contribute to companies’ challenges in providing fair compensation adjustments or bonuses. 

As we’ve discussed in a previous blog, this issue is particularly prevalent in large organizations, where certain departments often struggle to receive the recognition and support they deserve.

Given the multitude of factors influencing companies’ salary structures, it’s not always clear why you haven’t received the compensation you deserve. Advocating for yourself is a demonstration of your self-worth and determination not to settle for a job that doesn’t recognize your monetary worth. In the following steps, we’ll guide you on how to prepare for that crucial conversation.

Find the best people to speak to

Start by initiating a conversation with your immediate manager, as they might not be aware of your concerns or may have faced their own challenges in advocating for a raise on your behalf. It’s possible that they are new to the role, have been preoccupied with other matters, or encountered resistance when pushing for raises in the past. By opening this dialogue, you give them an opportunity to address your situation. However, if you find that there’s no feedback or action on their part, it may be prudent to explore discussions with higher-ups who could play a more influential role in advancing your case. This issue can extend beyond individual circumstances, affecting entire departments, and may be influenced by budget allocations and the distribution of promotions and salary adjustments at the organizational level.

Make a case for yourself

Take a moment to compile a concise summary of your contributions to the company. Highlight your involvement in projects, campaigns, reports, and any other relevant tasks, and where possible, provide quantifiable metrics to underscore your achievements. Additionally, emphasize any new responsibilities you’ve assumed during your tenure. What’s crucial is to showcase the evolution of your role and impact over the past few years. Your goal is to demonstrate that your current salary is no longer commensurate with your capabilities and increased responsibilities. Assuming you’ve been successful, you’ve grown in expertise and taken on additional duties, your salary should naturally align with these advancements.

Come prepared with a number

Come prepared with a specific salary figure in mind, but also take into consideration the market rate for your position. Entering the conversation with a clear target is essential to effective negotiation. It’s not only about your tenure at the company and recent raises within your team but also ensuring that your compensation aligns with what the organization typically offers for your role. This holistic approach takes into account both internal and external factors, ensuring that you’re fairly compensated within the context of your company’s industry and standards.

Be prepared for pushback

There are a variety of reasons employers might not be willing to concede to your request for a raise instantly. If there is no budget available for example, they may be hesitant to give you 100% of what you are asking. If they do shoot you down, here are some reasons they may give, and here are some responses that you can make:

Past recognitions/benefits

  • “We did give your team a bonus two years ago after the launch of the brand campaign”

Answer: “While it’s true that our team received bonuses two years ago following the successful brand campaign, it’s important to consider the long-term impact on my overall compensation. Bonuses are typically one-time rewards and don’t contribute to the base salary, which determines future raises and benefits. Without a consistent bonus structure in place, my salary would remain stagnant, potentially falling behind market rates and my colleagues’ compensation over time.”

Market conditions

  • “We’re in a recession, and the job market is tough right now. Many companies, including ours, are freezing salaries.”
  • “Salaries in our industry have remained stagnant due to economic challenges.”

Answer: “I understand the challenges in the job market, but I’ve consistently delivered results that have positively impacted our clients and our team’s success. Despite market conditions, I believe that my contributions warrant a salary adjustment.”

Performance Metrics:

  • “While you’ve done a good job, we need to see more specific and quantifiable results to justify a raise.”
  • “Can you provide evidence of how your performance has directly contributed to our bottom line?”

Answer: “I appreciate your feedback. I’d be happy to provide a detailed analysis of the campaigns and ads I’ve run, along with the quantifiable metrics that demonstrate their success. My efforts have directly contributed to client satisfaction and our team’s growth.”

Comparative Salaries:

  • “Your current salary is in line with industry standards and our company’s compensation structure.”
  • “We’ve looked at salaries for similar roles in the market, and you’re already being compensated fairly.”

Answer: “While industry standards are important, I’d like to emphasize that my role has evolved significantly since I joined. I now handle [mention specific responsibilities], which goes beyond the initial scope. I believe my compensation should reflect the value I bring to the team.”

Budget Constraints:

  • “We’d love to give you a raise, but our budget for salary increases is limited this year.”
  • “We have other financial priorities right now, like investing in new technology or expansion.”

Answer: “I understand budget limitations but wanted to my hard work and dedication have consistently delivered exceptional results for our clients. A fair adjustment in compensation would motivate and reward my efforts.”

Recent Benefits:

  • “We recently introduced a new healthcare plan and increased vacation days. These benefits contribute to your overall compensation package.”
  • “Our flexible work arrangements and remote work options offer added value.”

Answer: “I value the additional benefits the company has provided, but my salary has remained unchanged for [mention number] years. I believe that adjusting my salary would be in line with the increased responsibilities I’ve taken on.”

Final thoughts

In the face of stagnant salaries and unfulfilled promises of raises, advocating for your worth is not just about securing an increase in compensation; it’s also about affirming your value to the organization. By identifying the right person to speak with, showcasing your contributions, setting clear expectations, communicating your salary request and preparing for potential pushback, you can break free from the ‘raise drought’ and pave the way for a financially rewarding career journey. Remember, it’s not entitlement –  it’s recognition for your hard work and dedication.

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Posted in , Professional Development