Monday, June 4, 2007

When is the right time to ask for a raise?

This can be a tricky situation. Asking for more money is always a tough thing to do. It needs to be done with tact, otherwise all they see is a money hungry employee who is trying to leach off of the company. Usually, my employers have offered more money on their own, either because I was leaving and they wanted me to stay, or I was being promoted or given more responsibility. The rule of thumb on asking for a raise: if you feel your current responsibilities have far outgrown your original duties or responsibilities, it is time.

Twice that has happened to me and both times I requested a raise. It was not a matter of wanting more money; it was about needing more money. Companies most times will distribute tasks and restructure an Organizational Chart in order to save money. For example, they let someone go and split up that person’s tasks and assign them to other people in the department instead of hiring a replacement. That’s great for the company, but lousy for you. Of course, added responsibilities are a part of life; they show your supervisors your ability to handle more on your plate and thus, get promoted. However, when it feels that you are doing the work of two people, it may be time to evaluate if your compensation is adequate.

The first time I asked for a raise, I had been working for about a year as a Receptionist/Administrative Assistant. When they realized I could do more than type, file and answer phones, they quickly started loading up my plate with additional tasks. That was fine until I realized I was doing not only my job, but that of an Office Engineer. At someone’s suggestion, I typed out a list of my Daily Tasks and it nearly filled the whole page. I requested a meeting with my Project Manager and pointed out how my duties had doubled since I started on the Project and if I could possibly be compensated accordingly. He took my list and discussed it with the Project Executive and a couple of days later, notified me that they were going to pay me an additional $3 per hour.

The second time was with the same company. About a year or so after the first incident, I had taken on the role of assistant to the Change Order department. They had already increased my salary to reflect the change in position. A couple of months after working with their Change Management consultant, they switched him over to another project and left me in charge of the whole department. Since the department consisted of the consultant and myself at the time, that left only me. I was responsible for processing all of the Change Orders for the project, from initiation to completion. I lasted about a month or two before I started feeling completely overwhelmed and taken advantage of. I approached the new Project Manager and explained my dilemma. He understood, and saw how stressed out I was becoming. He talked to our Project Executive, as well as our Client, to see if they would not mind paying more for my position. I already had the back up plan that if they did not give me a raise, I was leaving. So for me, there was no real loss. Thankfully, they appreciated my efforts and showed me monetarily.

Every single time however, I have had the proof to back up my request. I show them how much of an asset I am to the company, in that they get their money’s worth and how the added responsibilities to my role merits additional compensation. If done right, it proves to your supervisors that you know your own worth and are willing to stick up for yourself.

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