Rachel, what sort of raise should I ask for?
The writer is going in to talk about salary and needs some insight
July 27, 2012
I was pleased to read your recent column in which you reported that the mood of media departments has improved with the improving media economy. It was timely because I am about to go into a performance review, and I am going to be looking to get a raise, which I have not seen for several years. It probably won't be much. I gather what raises are being given out are in the low to mid single digits, percentage-wise. My question: How do I come up with what I should ask for? – Wondering in California
It's good to know the range of raises being handed out, but certainly don't let that be your guide.
Some people are fearful of asking for a big raise for fear they will come off as presumptuous and that it will hurt their standing with the agency.
Don't be one of those people.
My advice is always that when it comes to money it's your every right to be upfront about what you want and to bargain hard to get it. The negotiating table is a level field, and one on which your goal is to win the best deal you can.
When it comes to what to ask for, you best guide is what your agency would have to pay to replace you.
If you are making $50,000 and a person with your skills would demand and get $60,000, then you should be asking for a $10,000 raise.
That may seem a big boost, but you say you have not seen a raise for several years, so it's not really that big. It's quite modest, in fact.
You may not get it, but if you start there, you stand the best chance of getting a raise somewhere in that range.
And your argument for that raise is both very simple and very rationale, and you can be very upfront about it. Simply say, this is what my value is on the open job market. This is what it would cost this agency to replace me.
Trust me, you won't be telling them anything they didn't know already. Agencies are out in the market every day, so they know the price of talent.
How do you find out what your market value is? Talk to head hunters. Just make sure they know your market.
I should add, finding your value on the open market serves another purpose. It could tell you it's time to move on.
Say they agency comes back with a $2,000 raise, well short of the $10,000. In doing so, they'll have established your true value in their eyes.
It tells you you will be underpaid until the next time you go in for a raise, and it also tells you that when that time comes you'll likely get another skimpy raise, which will put you further in the hole paywise.
The big message might well be that it's time to look for a new job.
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