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How to Ask for a Raise. Or Not.

How to Ask for a Raise. Or Not.

I seem to be bombarded lately with messages that say I should ask for a raise. The loudest is from my bank account it seems. But then again, my credit card bills seem to be squawking pretty loudly too. Oh, and there’s summer camp. Rates just posted this month, and after-school workshops, and birthday parties for the kids…you get the picture.

But in all seriousness, it’s been in the news a lot lately. It started with this terribly depressing article on CNBC that when it comes to asking for a raise, for women in particular, it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You won’t get a raise if you don’t ask, but if you ask, your boss is likely to judge you negatively. Fantastic. I decide to look on the bright side and file that as evidence that I have been smart all those times I’ve been too wimpy to ask for more money.

Then on ABC World News’ Real Money segment, they reveal in their new poll that 71% of Americans have made it their top financial priority to get a raise. And yet fewer than half of us even ask (wimpiness loves company, right?). So, they bring in an expert to give a young woman all sorts of advice about how to ask for a raise, and she nervously, but confidently, goes into her review and makes the ask. Success! After all, just asking puts her ahead of half of all Americans. Well, not really. Because if you watch the segment closely, you’ll notice that she didn’t actually get a raise, just a promise that they’ll revisit it if she keeps doing such a good job. Great. Not. After all, even a 4-year-old knows that “we’ll see” is just mom’s way of saying “no” while hoping to ward off a tantrum.

In the same Real Money segment, several of the Sharks from the Shark Tank offer their tips about asking for a raise. They offer pretty good advice – know what you’re worth, know what you want, don’t make threats, and practice asking. But for the wimps among us, I’d add one more. If you can, work for someone you know and trust – someone you believe will recognize your worth and fundamentally understand the right thing to do is compensate you for it. The fact is, it may not even be in your boss’s power to give you a raise. But if you make yourself worth it, and you work for someone with integrity, you should feel appreciated, raise or not.

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