The Millennial Guide To Getting A Raise Or Promotion


By Patty Moore, a blogger at @WorkMomLife

Contrary to their reputation as job-hopping opportunists, a recent study reveals that most millennials would choose to stay in a job for a while if they knew they could get regular pay raises and have upward career mobility. In fact, the same study showed they are not much different than Gen Xers or baby boomers in their desire to remain in one place as long as they have long-term job security.

The problem for younger members of the generation is that many are used to taking short-term jobs out of college just to get by and are unaccustomed to asking for a promotion or a raise when they do find a job they like. It is important to start laying the foundation for your adult life as soon as you can, which starts with taking control of your career and raising the ceiling of your financial potential. You do that by prepping for and asking for promotions and raises when the time is right.  Here is your primer for successfully asking for and receiving job promotions and raises.

Take on More Responsibility

If you believe you’re ready for a promotion or a raise, you need to start acting the part by demonstrating your true value every day. That means mastering the tasks and responsibilities of your current position while taking the initiative to solve problems worthy of a higher paid or more senior employee. You will need to demonstrate command of organization and time management because, in most instances, your boss won’t want you to forego your assigned responsibilities. As you do this, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions and try to align yourself with a senior employee or mentor who shows an interest in helping you along the way.

Ask for Feedback

A mistake many employees make is to wait for a scheduled performance review to learn what their manager thinks of their work. Make a point to corner your boss regularly to ask for feedback. You want to let them know that your goal is to excel in your current role and that you value their feedback. It’s also an opportunity share with your manager your goals for learning and advancing in your roles with the company. Use the feedback to improve your performance and let your manager know that it worked.

Sing Your Own Praises

If you don’t let people know of your accomplishments, it’s doubtful anyone else will; or, at least you have to assume that. If you are consistently exceeding expectations and tackling bigger projects with the more deftness than your senior colleagues, you need to shine a light on yourself. Make it a point to provide your boss with a frequent review of your accomplishments if they exceed expectations (i.e. finishing a big project ahead of schedule, better results than expected, improving processes, etc.)

Do Your Research

You stand a much better chance of getting the raise you seek when you thoroughly research your position and determine how much other top performers earn. You should know going in whether you are underpaid or overpaid based on the market and your value to the company. Generally, employees ask for a raise of three to five percent. But, if you can demonstrate with your research that you are underpaid relative to the market, you can make a case for a bigger increase. You can gather data from websites like which compiles salary information from thousands of companies.

Pick the Right Time

Another mistake employees make is to wait until their performance review to ask for a promotion or raise. In many cases, employers have already set their budgets for the coming year. The best time is some time after the first quarter of the year and before the summer. Pick a time when you know your manager is thinking clearest and is most receptive. You can either ask for a brief meeting or you can simply ask for time to discuss your salary.

Lead the Conversation

You’ve asked for the meeting so you need to be prepared to lead the conversation. Going in with full preparation and the real data as to why you deserve a raise or promotion will help to keep your anxiety in check. You must realize, however, that you can’t expect to get an immediate answer. Your goal is to make a compelling case for yourself.

It’s important to get right to the point – “I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about my compensation.” And then proceed to make your case. Let your manager know how committed you are to the company and that you are ready to play a bigger role in its success. Talk up your contributions, while being mindful of your body language and posture. You need to convey strength and confidence. After making your case, let your manager know that you think it is worth a 15 percent raise (hoping she’ll agree to a 10 percent raise.)

Be Positive but Prepare for Rejection

You need to realize going into the meeting that the worst thing that can happen is your manager says “no.” That’s not the end of the world and you won’t get fired for asking. In fact, your manager is likely to be impressed with your ambition and it certainly doesn’t hurt that you made a strong case. She will be paying attention from now on. Many times it comes down to a budgetary or timing decision. You’re on her radar and it will be easier the next time when you approach her.

If you have a good manager, she’ll want to encourage you. If the budget or timing isn’t right, she may be receptive to providing you with an extra benefit, such as more paid time off or more flexible work hours. Extra benefits are a great negotiating tactic. You could ask for financial benefits that are slightly disconnected from your salary. You could make a strong argument that student loan repayment benefits or life insurance benefits would reduce stress in your life. Countless studies have shown that reduced stress improves employee performance. Again, you’re just asking and she can say no. But, she also is much more aware of your value as an employee, so she could say yes.

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