Workplace Rights

Weekly (4/27/14)

Topic of the Week  When To Ask For a Raise

  • Job offer.
  • Competitor's offer.
  • Big success.
  • Hired during the recession.

For the Love of Money: When to Ask For a Raise

Given today's high unemployment rate and flat-lining salaries it sounds crazy to think of getting a raise. It isn't. I've written before about how to ask for a raise, but today I'm going to focus on when to ask for one. Which reminds me of University of North Carolina professor Paul Frampton. He recently asked to have his salary doubled. Only one problem, he made his request from an Argentinian prison cell saying that he could do his job just as well from there as from his office in North Carolina.

Suffice it to say that Professor Frampton embodies the worst time to ask for a raise, with a bit of arrogance tossed in for good measure. Since you're not in jail, you can start by checking out a salary calculator, like, to see if you are being fairly paid. If you find out you aren't, then I've listed the four times when you have the best odds of getting a bigger paycheck.

Job offer. When an employer says that they really want you your clout is the strongest. But with the recession still in the back of our minds, we can be reticent to do anything but say yes. That is a mistake. You should always be ready to negotiate. Especially because you want to get the highest base pay you can, this will increase the impact of any raises you get in the future. So push back gently on their offer and see if you can increase it.

Competitor's offer. There is no better argument that you deserve more pay than to have written proof, an actual offer from another company. But you need to be careful to not appear to be playing blackmail with your company. Before you accept the offer, tell your company about it in as low key a way as possible. If you're not too heavy handed, they may come back at you with a counter offer.

Big success. Whenever you hit a really big homerun for your company you should contemplate asking for some props. But first you need to do a bit of ROI calculations. That's where you calculate the return on investment for your idea in terms of creating additional revenue or saving the company money. This is the dollar and sense way to argue that you deserve more money.

Hired during the recession. Let's face it, if you were hired in 2008 or 2009, chances are that you started with a lower salary. That's why you want to Google your company's job listings on a regular basis. You could find that new hires are starting at a higher wage that you're getting. If that is the case, you need to negotiate with your company that you're more valuable than a new hire.
Maybe instead of doubling his salary, Professor Frampton should have lobbied for a get out of jail card. But if you follow my advice you should be able to break out of the prison of your current salary.


Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

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