Should You Ask For A Raise?

If you feel your job skills deserve more than you are getting paid, calculate your worth to decide whether to ask for a raise.

All of us want to earn what we're worth to an employer. But sometimes a company can't afford to pay for all the work we do. Or we may have an inflated idea of our value to an organization.

If you are trying to decide whether to ask for a raise, here are a few things to consider:

1. Do you typically put in more than a full day of work? Everyone works over occasionally, perhaps dashing off a last memo for the day or waiting to sign off on a major report that is being completed. But if you find yourself at the office several hours extra each week, start tracking these by noting the number of minutes or hours, the frequency with which it occurs, and the reasons you are working over. When you start keeping careful records, you may be surprised to find that your actual extra time is less than you thought especially when balanced with time away for doctor's appointments or illness. You may also see that some tasks could be left for the next day, or might be completed if you took one coffee break instead of two each day. But if you feel pressured to stay after and complete work that might not otherwise get done, track the amount of time spent doing this so you can seek compensation.

2. Are you handling duties that are not part of your job description? Everyone should have a written description of their job duties. If you are now doing things that you weren't hired for, you may be handling more than one full-time job. Make a list of everything you do throughout a normal day. Put an asterisk beside tasks that you didn't do before, along with a notation about when you started handling these and why. As you survey the list, decide whether these extra duties merit additional pay or whether they are marginal to your usual job performance.

3. Have you received additional training or certifications? If so, you may now be expected to perform job duties that were not part of your original list. You also may be serving as a resident expert for employees from other departments or company branches. Write down all the classes, workshops, and seminars you have attended along with any licenses, awards, or titles that may have resulted from these. Then you can form an opinion about whether you are a more valuable employee to the organization than you were previously.

4. Do you handle more professional or administrative duties than previously? While some may be related to your usual job, if you find that you are making more decisions than before or helping to coordinate department operations or procedures, it may be that you are unconsciously moving, or being moved, to a higher level of performance. Jot down new or different job functions that are more management-oriented than you used to handle to see if you notice a developmental pattern that should be brought to your supervisor's attention.

5. Do you work with, or stand in for, company administrators? It's one thing to attend a meeting for a boss who has to go out of town, but it's another when you are expected to routinely take over for someone who is busy doing other things or out of the office on personal business. Take stock of the kinds of things you are doing that are supposed to be handled by those in higher-level positions, along with the frequency of your doing them.

Review your notes and calculations to determine whether you have enough information to ask for a raise. Make your boss aware of facts like you are spending 20% more time in the office each week, or your work schedule now includes nearly 50% more administrative functions over the past year. With objective data that is clearly and calmly presented, you have a good chance of getting that much-needed recognition in the form of a pay raise.

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