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How to Work Smarter

(page 2 of 4)

HOW TO ASK FOR A RAISE: A leading Chicago headhunter dished up advice for getting more cheddar

1. Do your homework. “When people want a raise, they start in an informal way to find out, through their peers, what other people make. This is a bad way to get data. People want to make themselves look better, so those numbers are typically inflated. Then, the raise seekers get fixated—‘So-and-so is making more than me’—and they develop attitudes that are not based on fact. Numbers from compensation-and-benefits firms like Towers Perrin are often too low, because they are averages. Use those as guidelines, knowing the truth lies in the middle. But ultimately you cannot do it on your own; you need a mentor, an advocate who is higher up, who can help you figure out if you are being underpaid.”

2. It’s all about timing. “Too many people wait to ask for that salary boost when they’re having the back-and-forth with the boss during the annual review. That’s too late. Find out when a company goes through review planning, and hit up your boss then. If you ask during a review, what you’re going to hear is, ‘You should have talked to us five months ago.’”

3. Know where you stand. Are you a top performer or considered by your boss to be one of the worst? Last year’s raise may offer a clue. “The majority of raises are in the 3 percent to 5 percent range. Raises are distributed on a bell curve. The majority—85 percent—of people are paid with an average raise. The top performers—5 percent—may get a little more, and the poorest performers get a little less.”

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