You know what you’re worth — or have a rough idea, at least. But does it match with what you’re actually getting paid? If not, you probably feel somewhat compelled to bring it up. One of the best ways to do this is to have an honest and informed justification for the increase in pay.
Cost of Living
Basing your need for a pay raise to increases in the cost of living is one of the easier tactics for justifying an increase. In 2011, the Consumer Price Index rose 3 percent, according to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly CPI information is available, allowing you to calculate how much the cost of living has increased since your last raise. Using this data to demonstrate how the cost of living has risen could persuade your boss to offer you a raise.
Besides cost of living, use the average compensation for your role to justify a salary increase. National averages for most vocations are available at the U.S. Department of Labor’s website. But other career sites, as well as trade journals, are also good resources for local and national salaries based on both education and experience. To gather even more detail, contact area recruiters, professional associations and other people holding similar positions. If you find your salary already matches the average, you may still be due for a bump in pay, so look at other factors that might merit a salary increase, such as additional duties or professional successes.
Level of Experience
Years on the job can carry a lot of weight with employers. Not only are you offering a certain level of knowledge that only comes with experience, but your tenure also demonstrates loyalty and dependability. It could take years for an organization to train someone to fill your role, and even then there’s no guarantee she’ll stick around — or do the job as well as you, for that matter. So, consider using your level of experience as leverage for a salary increase.
Duties and Responsibilities
Most people assume additional responsibilities throughout their careers and aren’t always compensated for them. Maybe you took the lead on a high-profile project or are now heading all things social media. If you go above and beyond the call of duty, you can use that to justify a raise, so start tracking your contributions. That being said, many organizations are now asking staff to do more for less, especially during financial hardship. Feel free to broach the topic, but remain flexible. Andy Teach, author and corporate veteran, suggests alternative forms of compensation, such as extra days of vacation or the option to work from home once a week.
Achievements and Accomplishments
Achievements are always good reasons for a pay increase. If, for example, you’ve landed a new account or surpassed your sales goal for the year, you’re bringing additional funds into the business. The additional monetary value can be used to justify an increase in salary. In fact, many companies direct the most generous pay increases and bonuses to those whose actions boost revenue or profits the most, or who make the greatest impact on any other measures that management finds important. As with your duties and responsibilities, keep a running tally of your accomplishments. During your annual review, take time to detail your professional successes for the year. If this doesn't sway your boss to fork over additional dough, just ask her what you need to do in order to bring your performance to a level that would justify higher pay.
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.