Why You Don’t Deserve A Raise…Yet

I talked to a client this week who is coming up on his second year with his current company. “Jim” hasn’t had a performance review or a raise yet, and he is frustrated. What about you? When was the last time you received a real raise? If it’s been a while, you might be upset with your company, feeling you are being denied what you have rightfully earned. But do you really deserve a raise just yet?

It’s time for a reality check. You haven’t earned a raise yet, or you would already have one.

Perhaps you’ve bought into the myth that if you work really hard, work well with others, put in a few extra hours, do above average work, or get another degree, you’ll have earned a raise. Don’t be too hard on yourself—millions believe the same story. In order to earn a raise, you might or might not have to do all the above. I say “might not” because plenty of people get raises without working extra hours, getting along well with others, or doing stellar work. Huh? How is that possible, you might ask?

Here’s how: They sell themselves, and they sell their boss on giving them a raise. They happen to be good at both things, and it shows up in their paychecks. Even the thought of broaching the subject makes many break out in hives, but you have to be the one to convince your boss that you are worth what you are asking for. Why should your company pay you more than they did a year ago, especially in this soft economy?

Build your case. Demonstrate that you have made specific contributions to the company that warrant a raise from their perspective, not just yours. What new skills have you developed? How have you used them to be more productive?

What new procedures have you developed to save the company money, or to make more money? What new responsibilities have you assumed? How have you documented all the above? (If you don’t care enough to document these things, why would you expect your boss to care enough to pay you more?) In the last year, Jim, an IT professional, has obtained a new certification and taken on significant new responsibilities. What about you?

Now get behind it. Do you believe in your contributions to your company deeply enough to promote yourself? (What? You hate promoting yourself? You hate internal politics? Sorry about that, but that likely means you haven’t yet earned a raise.) Communicating your value and getting along well with others is part of earning a raise.

The bottom line is that you can blame your company for not giving you a raise, or you can be in the minority that accepts responsibility for the results they create. There’s no middle ground. I don’t mean to be heartless, but now, more than ever, we need to deal with reality. The reality is that you have to earn a raise. And the reality is until you earn your raise, you don’t deserve it. You are fully capable of doing so—now go out and make it happen.

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