Canada

Want a raise? Here's how to get it

Asking for a raise always feels a little awkward, even if you've been killing it at work. Workplace columnist Rubina Ahmed-Haq has some tips to get the bump in pay that you deserve.

According to a pay expert, people often stay at their salary level unaware they could earn more

(Peter Scobie/CBC)

A lot of us feel we should be making more money than we are. But many of us aren't comfortable asking for it. Asking for a raise always feels a little awkward, even if you've been killing it at work. 

According to Statistics Canada unemployment is at a 40 year low, and wages, for the most part, have been stagnant for the last decade. That means now is as good a time as ever to finally ask for that raise.

Pay expert says workers lack confidence

Lydia Frank is with PayScale.com, an online company that helps users determine what their work is worth. She says people often stay at their salary level unaware they could earn more. Many lack the confidence because they believe there will be an adverse outcome to their request. Even when they do ask for a raise, they don't ask for enough. 

Unemployment is at a 40 year low, and wages, for the most part, have been stagnant for the last decade.- Statistics Canada

"Fewer people than you think actually ask for a raise," says Frank. "The mistake that they make is starting with what they are currently making and tacking on a number that doesn't feel crazy. A lot of times people will come to me and say 'Maybe I should ask for $5,000 more or $10,000? I'm not really sure.'"

Frank says to request as much money as you think you're worth, even if that means asking for double your current pay. It's especially true if you're changing companies and negotiating with a new boss, where there is more room for negotiation.

Know your worth, and ask for it

If you're asking your current boss for a raise, send a meeting invite via email indicating you want to talk about a salary increase. Be genuine, don't pretend to be someone you're not, and be sure to have a list of accomplishments that show your work is worth more. 

You might hear 'I'm paid the same as them or paid more, so I think it's fine.' It may not be fine. You may all be underpaid.- Lydia Frank, PayScale.com

Before the meeting, use online resources to see what others in your role earn and talk to colleagues at your job level if they're willing to share salary information with you. However, approach with caution when using this intel. 

"You need to take it with a grain of salt," says Frank. "Understand that you might not have all the information. They might have a background of information that you are not aware of that might be increasing their pay. Or you might hear 'I'm paid the same as them or paid more, so I think it's fine.' It may not be fine. You may all be underpaid."

Canadian workers ready for a raise

An online survey conducted in December 2017 by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed.ca, a popular job site, found that of 1,000 currently employed Canadians surveyed, 53 percent will definitely or probably ask for a raise in 2018. 

"Two major reasons were cited," says Jodi Kasten, managing director at Indeed.ca. "One, cost of living, especially those that live in expensive metropolitan cities. And the second is Canadian workers who feel they are overworked for the job that they do."

Both Kasten and Frank say if your employer rejects your request for a raise don't see it as a failure. They believe that bosses like workers who are confident and show initiative. By asking for an increase, you're putting yourself out there and saying you're willing to do more.

And that will increase your chances of promotion down the road when the opportunity does arise. 

The Censuswide online survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rubina Ahmed-Haq

Business columnist

Rubina is a business columnist who has been covering money matters for more than 10 years. Her career began 20 years ago as a news reporter. After a decade on the news beat she realized her passion was discussing personal finance issues. Now, she weighs in on money and workplace matters on CBC Radio, CBC TV and CBC News Network. Her goal is to get Canadians to take control of their personal finances on their own.

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