Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Scaling Your Pay: How to Get More Money from Year-End Reviews

At one job, I received a coupon for a fat turkey as a year-end bonus. Another year, I received a 25 percent pay hike, plus a sweet one-time bonus. So, what's the deal for year-end reviews? And can you even push for a raise if you're in a minimum-wage job?

Yes, Yes, according to a few folks that I've recently chatted with, including Erin Burt, a contributing editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Here's her advice about negotiating raises:

1. Use the clock well: Pick your battles wisely and keep an eye on the clock and the calendar. When are salaries, bonuses and performance reviews doled out? Did you just save the company a lot of money? Did you just score a major coup in customer service?

And if you work at a minimum wage job, consider this strategy: Did you pull in extra hours, while other people were off during the Thanksgiving? Did you work overtime when others declined?

Use those personal high-gloss moments to polish up your manager for a raise, Erin says: "Don't let them forget," she says. Ask for a raise during or right after a peak performance.

2. Know your value: Go to or make industry inquiries. Network! But find out how much your position is worth in the market. That advice comes from Mikelann R. Valterra, author of Why Women Earn Less .

3. Put yourself in your manager's shoes. Let's be real, Erin says. Your boss doesn't really care about your moving expenses, the new baby or your sister's wedding. "Only ask for a raise because you deserve it, not because you need it," she told me during our recent phone conversation. "You have to prove your value to your company."

4. Document your value. Both Erin and Mikelann recommend that you march into salary negotiations/job reviews/bonus requests with a brag list, either written or in your head. (I prefer written because when I get nervous my available memory crashes like an old school computer.) But have the facts ready to show how much you have done for the company. Maybe even rehearse your pitch.

5. Be Flexible: It's not all about the money and keep in mind that in a slow economy, the bonus pool may look like one of Pharaoh's skinny cows from the Biblical famine era. So if your manager has to skimp out on the money, consider asking for:

  • Flexible hours

  • Telecommuting (maybe one day a week)

  • Extra vacation days

  • Stock options (They're so cheap)

  • Tuition reimbursement

Even consider asking for a better title. "It looks good on your resume," Erin says. And maybe you can barter your enhanced title into a better job and more pay at another company.

Hey, once Erin received a book as a bonus. That's fine, because given a choice between a fat turkey and a book, I'd take the book any day as a bonus.

Bottom line, says Erin: Don't be shy about negotiating your salary or year-end bonus.

"That's all open for negotiations."

Erin Burt, Contributing Editor for Kiplinger's, has written a great article called "Five Steps to Negotiating a Raise"



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