Going after a pay raise can be an intimidating task. That’s probably why so many of us never ask for salary increases. However, when people buy into the many myths about salary raises, they are only holding themselves back. Here are some of the most common myths and the truth behind them.
Top 8 Myths About Salary Raises
1. Employees are entitled to annual raises.
Unfortunately, there are no labor laws that entitle employees to annual raises. While it may be customary to give annual increases or bonuses, there are no guarantees. The only instance in which an employer must increase wages is when mandated by minimum wage increases. If either the federal or state minimum wage increases on an annual basis, then an employee would be legally entitled to a salary raise every year. Although many states have been consistently increasing the minimum wage, the federal minimum rate hasn’t gone up since 2009.
2. If an employer says you are eligible for a promotion after 6 months, then by law it must happen.
During the interview process, many employees will discuss the timeline it takes to promote within the company. However, if your employer states that you will be eligible for a promotion after six months, they may simply be stating the company policy in which employees are eligible for promotions. This does not mean you will automatically receive a promotion as soon as you are eligible, unless it is explicitly written into your contract. If an employer offers quick promotions as an incentive, you should take it as something to aspire to, not an expectation.
3. Your superiors track when you are due for a raise/promotion.
Although you may play a crucial role in your work environment, that doesn’t mean your superiors track your raises and promotions. Unless you have a legal entitlement in an employment contract, some employers won’t always offer salary increases from year to year. It’s in the company’s best interest to keep labor costs down. However, that shouldn’t stop you from going after a raise.
By taking on more responsibility and demonstrating your value to the company can earn you a salary bump. But, if you never speak up, no one will ever know your intentions or desire for a raise. If your superiors see your potential and ambition to advance, most companies encourage promotion from within. And, they will gladly pay you more for filling leadership roles.
4. During a salary negotiation, your boss is your adversary.
One of the biggest myths about salary raises is that your boss is your adversary during negotiations. If you are a valuable employee, they will see you as an asset, not an adversary. Even though they represent corporate interests, that doesn’t mean you are automatically at odds. In fact, retaining and promoting valuable employees would put you on the same side.
Most companies are not as greedy or miserly as we would like to believe. If you can demonstrate that you deserve a raise, they will happily give it to you when it’s within reason. But like all business proposals, you should still prepare what you want to say and rehearse it before you make the actual request.
5. The best time to ask for a raise is during your annual review.
Contrary to what you might have heard, you shouldn’t wait for your annual review to ask for a raise. If you wait for your boss to announce your raise during your evaluation, it’s already too late. Budgets have already been allocated and salaries fixed for the next fiscal year. Therefore, you should try to do it earlier. If possible you should ask the quarter before your evaluation, after completing a major project, or solving a difficult issue. Timing is important, so use important professional moments and successes to your advantage.
6. Everyone is on the same playing field.
Another of the most common myths about salary raises is that everyone in the same position earns the same salary. It isn’t a level playing field, and employers pay each person what they feel they are worth to the company. Your qualifications and prior experience may entitle you to a higher salary.
The key to successful negotiations is knowing your worth. If you aren’t certain what the average salary for your position is, you can check online resources to get an idea of what other professionals with the same job title earn with other companies. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines for each position.
7. You should ask for a specific figure.
Another mistake people make when asking for a raise is giving an exact figure. If you ask for a specific amount, you pigeonhole yourself in it. Instead, give them a range of how much more money you are asking for. And, it’s always better to aim higher than your goal to leave room for negotiation.
8. If it doesn’t happen now, it never will.
Just because your boss denies your request now doesn’t mean that you will never get a raise in the future. Perhaps there are financial difficulties you aren’t aware of or it just isn’t in the budget. If it’s only an issue of money, you can also negotiate for better benefits that have value beyond your paycheck.
When you ask for a raise, remember to be patient. Your boss may need time to review the decision. And, you don’t want to put yourself at a disadvantage by presenting them with an ultimatum. Although you should prepare yourself for a negative response, don’t let it keep you from trying again when circumstances are more favorable.
Now that you are aware of the most common myths about salary raises, you can better avoid the pitfalls of salary negotiations. With a little preparation and awareness of your self-worth, you should have no trouble going after your professional ambitions. And, remember that even if you fail the first time, persistence pays off.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.