It’s not a secret that housing and healthcare costs have risen significantly in the past 10 years, leaving working professionals behind. Why? Because average raises are around 2%, nothing close to the dramatic cost of living increases they are experiencing. If your rent has gone up 10% a year over the past 5 years, which happens frequently in CA, a 2% increase is going to leave you behind. By a lot.

That’s why studies have shown that professionals who switch jobs every 2-3 years make up to 50% more. They are incurring more risk to gain more skills and obtain more compensation. Their risk tolerance is higher than the average professional. And many people find they literally have to leave their company to make up the gap in earnings. Either they get the increases they should have received in a big salary jump or their current employer produces a counter offer. Either way, they finally win.

Many experts recommend not on a continuous job search, but also being very assertive in monitoring your internal and external value to your organization. If you find yourself falling behind, then it’s critical to come up with a plan to address it. It’s essential that you consider the following:

  1. Performance Rating – If you are going to lobby for an increase, be sure that you have met all of the performance standards for your role. Are you always rated Meets Expectations and/or Exceeds Expectations?
  2. Peers – Did your peers at the same level get hired externally? If you know they are paid more, this is a critical factor to consider.
  3. Pay Ranges – Where are you in your range? Below midpoint? Are you red circled and have to move to a new role to get a raise?
  4. Financial Health of Your Organization – If it’s not doing well, now is not the time to ask for a raise.
  5. Merit Increase Review Date – Are you already due in a few months for your review and raise? Plan ahead and touch base with your manager quarterly to ensure that they also feel that you are on track to be rated highly.
  6. Salary Data – Reviewing industry specific salary data that also accounts for your geography is the best way to assess your market rate. It’s so critical to ensure that the information you use to support your case is appropriate and accurate. It’s not enough to hit and pull some wide ranges. Reach out to the association for your professional and the local chapter to truly determine your pay range.

Planning your salary discussion is also really essential to success. I frequently tell career coaching candidates, it’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it that drives success. Remember the following tips:

  1. Use data
  2. Don’t get emotional.
  3. Use softening phrases combined with objectives for the conversation. That means be clear about your expectations. Asking for a 5% increase is far more doable than a 30% adjustment.
  4. Give your manager time to work the internal process since approvals must be obtained.
  5. Try to work within your current review cycle. Off cycle increases are much more difficult to get approved.

And there are things never to do when requesting a salary increase.

  1. Get defensive. Salary isn’t as personal as people imagine. If you accepted a below market salary to get into an organization, know that this is something you chose to do.
  2. Rant. Don’t rant, which goes back to being defensive and emotional.
  3. Be unrealistic. Don’t give your manager a number they can’t possible get to. You know your company.

But above all, definitely ask for the raise. Research shows that 66% of the time, when you ask, you receive an increase. That means 33% of the time, you don’t but the odds are with you. Keep in mind that women were turned down more often. Disturbing but you should factor that in if you are a female. Part of taking control of your career is focus on your compensation. It’s a game you should be playing.