by Rebecca Crago, Head Editor, INALJ Virginia
How to Negotiate a Raise
Employed job seekers may be looking for the next best thing not because they don’t like their job, but because it doesn’t pay enough. While it can take months to complete the hiring process and even years to find that next job, if the circumstances are right, asking for a raise might be the only thing holding you back from actually getting one.
First, make sure your organization can actually give you a raise. If you work in a public or government system with pay scales that are set in stone, you are less likely or even ineligible to get a raise as opposed to if you work for a stand-alone 503(c) or private company.
Timing is crucial. Don’t ask for a raise in your first year on the job. In order to successfully obtain a raise you have to show why you deserve it, and bigger accomplishments demonstrate a worthy candidate. Give yourself enough time to have gained institutional knowledge about your organization and proved yourself a worthy team member, and it’s likely your boss has already realized your true value.
Do your homework. What is the typical salary for your position in the type of organization where you work? Try to find stats from surveys conducted in your field rather than rely on websites that show the entire job spectrum. The ALA Allied Professional Association aims to provide library workers with resources for pay equity in this wonderful bibliography of published data based on practical statistics. They also maintain a library salary database and a list of libraries that collection salary information and show minimum salaries by state. Compare your salary with that of the median salary in similar positions to give yourself a starting point.
When you ask for a raise you should expect to highlight key accomplishments on the job, how you have grown and projects or career goals you wish to accomplish in the future. You should have a distinct and not too far reaching number (or range of numbers) in mind based on your research. Show confidence in why you deserve a raise and negotiate reasonably, and you are well on your way. If worse comes to worse, you can at least say you tried, and you might even get a promise from your employer that a pay bump in the future might happen sooner than you think.