Is it Time to Ask for a Raise?

If you read this article on Yahoo Finance last week, you might have concluded that there was an inevitable raise coming your way.

The article quoted a bunch of economic metrics and rates, but the gist of the both the headline (“Why you should be getting ready to ask for a raise”) and the article can be summed up in the third paragraph (emphasis is mine):

Finally, more than five years after the recession officially ended in June 2009, the job market is beginning to normalize. That means that the last piece of the economic recovery, higher wages, should arrive shortly. In other words, it’ll soon be time to start asking for raises again.

In other words, things are looking up. Unemployment is coming down and more companies are hiring. They’re also having trouble finding the right people to hire, which (in theory) means that they’re willing to pay more to hire the right person.

So far so good, right?

Sure, but guess what? For those of you that already work somewhere, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. Because companies rarely take all of this stuff into account when it comes to current employees.

Yes, they have a sense of what their turnover rate is relative to the rest of their industry, but mostly they don’t think of how these things affect current employees.

And as for this idea of waltzing into your boss’ office to ask for a raise because the economy is doing this or the labor market is doing that is preposterous.

Can you imagine trying to make that case? You’d get laughed out of the room—as well you should be.

The article does have a good point to make, and it’s that companies may become more willing to pay more for new talent because it’s harder to find it. But that means you’re going to a different company. You’re starting a search for a new job, and that’s a totally different ballgame than asking for more money.

There’s a right way to go about asking for a raise, and it doesn’t involve quoting the unemployment rate or a bunch of economic indicators. It involves stating your worth, what you bring to the table, and making a good case for it.

This is the type of thing that managers read and groan because they know some of their direct reports are going to read it and think to themselves, “Aw hell yeah! I should ask for a raise! The article finally gives me permission to walk in and ask for more money without doing all the hard work to make a compelling case as to why I should get more money! Niiice!”

But don’t be that guy or girl. Please.

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