Getting a Salary Raise During a Recession

Getting a raise during a recession feels great. If you only listen to the news you’d think everybody is losing their job, getting their pay cut, and being forced to take furlough days. While the economy might be in a recession, that doesn’t mean that your household has to  be. Employers around the country are still hiring and giving raises. My employer, in my office alone, has approximately 100 job openings. That’s about 10% of our office. It may be difficult for a steel worker in Pittsburgh to find employment or get a raise, but there’s employment and raises available for workers in growing industries who demonstrate their value and negotiateproperly. My belief is that if you’re working hard and providing value, then your employer can’t afford to have you leave.

Separate Yourself from the Crowd

If you want to get paid more, then you need something that separates yourself from your colleagues. You need a story. Your employer, in most cases, won’t just pay you more because you asked nicely. You must be able to demonstrate the value that you provide over someone else. If you are performing the same job with the same result as someone else who is earning $60k, you can’t go and ask for a raise up to $70k. However, if you’re providing more value than that $60k person, then you absolutely should be making more than them.

Make Sure your Work is Recognized

Honestly, this is one place where I have fallen short during my one-year career. While I am performing in the top 20% of colleagues at my level, my formal feedback from people I’ve worked with doesn’t necessarily reflect this. Depending on how your employer structures formal feedback, you may be able to play a more active role in this process. I’ve learned that instead of taking criticisms as they’re documented, push back a little and make sure that what’s in your employment file is accurate.

Know the Market

You can’t negotiate for a raise without knowing what others are being paid for performing similar work. Over the last couple of months my employer has put a huge emphasis on transparency in pay. I’ll share some of that in the near future when I find out my compensation for the next year. If you know what others are being paid for the same performance, and you’re being paid less, you have a very solid case for a raise. You don’t then have to prove that you are providing more value than others, you just have to point out that you’re being paid below market rates and would like to be adjusted to be competitive with the market.

Convince your Boss that you Care

It’s much easier to negotiate for a better salary if you’re a team player. If people can tell that your heart is in your job and you’re loyal to the company, then you’re much more likely to successfully negotiate a raise. I think that showing a concern for the company’s bottom line can go a long way here. Show that you understand that your boss is running a business, and thus, salary increases affect the bottom line. Let your boss know that you’re not just out there to get more money, you simply want to be compensated for the value you’re providing. As the same time, show that you’re fair, and don’t want to put the company in a bad position.

Keeping a Good Attitude

Through it all, it’s possible that you won’t get a raise when you seek one. If handled correctly though, this discussion with your boss shows that you’re still dedicated to your job and it lets him know that you’re looking to grow within the company. Don’t make the negotiation process just about the money. Whether you do or don’t, your boss should believe that you do your job because you love it. If your salary discussion comes off as if you only care about the money, then you really shouldn’t expect a raise. Continue to improve yourself, keep an upbeat attitude, and good things will come your way.