How to ask for a raise during inflation from a former Amazon recruiter

  • Lindsay Mustain is a job coach and former Amazon recruiter.
  • She says that a period of rising inflation is a good time to ask for a raise.
  • Mustaine breaks down the steps you need to take, from identifying your main motivation to having the actual conversation with your boss.

Today, the economy is facing unprecedented inflation ranging between 8% and 9% in recent months. This means that to maintain the same purchasing power, your salary must be higher. And for most people, wages have not kept pace with the level of inflation for many years.

I am a former Amazon Recruiter who hired 10,343 people in my career before starting my own company, which has now helped over 20,000 clients boost their careers. Today, I teach top professionals how to add $100,000+ to their salary without going back to school.

I find my clients to be chronically underpaid with a strong track record of job performance. With inflation on the rise, this is a prime time to ask for a pay raise. My clients start with the process we call “Raise Your Rate.” This is the first leverage point that is about getting a pay raise from your current position.

One of my most recent success stories took my client from $100,000 to $130,000, earning a 30% net pay raise, all without changing jobs. It’s important to keep in mind that even once you get a raise, you’ll likely feel an obligation to stay with that company and potentially face an undercurrent of resentment from being underpaid for years.

I want to normalize (and even encourage) that it’s okay and healthy to want more income and career impact. Often times, asking for a raise is the first step you’re taking toward finally getting paid what you’re worth and starting to think about continuing your journey to improve your career.

By following these tips, you will be able to negotiate a salary that reflects your skills and experience with confidence.

Step 1: Identify why you want a raise

The first step in asking for a raise is having an honest conversation with yourself. What are your main motivations for wanting more money? Money is often one piece in a larger conversation about shortcomings in your current job, level of responsibility, and/or supervisor.

Questions to investigate and evaluate:

  • What are your motivations for wanting more money?
  • Do you feel that you are being paid poorly? What is contributing to that feeling?
  • Are you looking to keep up with the cost of living?
  • Are you doing work well beyond the scope of what you’ve been hired for?
  • Are you happy with your current company and boss?
  • Do you see a long-term future with this organization?
  • What would have to happen for you to feel fulfilled professionally? Would money alone solve that?
  • How will you feel if they say no to your request? Are you willing to go ahead and change jobs and companies to find the job and salary you deserve?
  • How will you feel if they say yes to your request?

When my clients use this guide to ask for a raise, they are successful about 50% of the time. Heed this word of warning: A common side effect of asking for a raise, regardless of whether you get one, is resentment.

If you’re suddenly paid what you’re worth, you may find that you’ve been leaving money on the table and been paid less than you deserved for years. Another challenge is the feeling of loyalty forced to stay in a company that gives you a raise. Be sure to remember that you’re already being paid what you’re worth, which doesn’t require you to work harder or stay longer than it serves you professionally.

Once you have identified your motives and have had an honest conversation with yourself, it is time to start preparing your case.

Step 2: Do your research to find out your value

Before you even start thinking about asking for a raise, it’s important to do your research. This means taking the time to understand your market value.

Questions to investigate and evaluate:

  • Is this job in demand and is my industry growing and relevant? Do job boards have a large number of openings for this position?
  • What are other people paid in your field? What is the prevailing rate for your position?
  • What is the economic condition of inflation? Am I getting paid fairly compared to the rate of inflation?

Understanding the landscape of demand, the economy, and opportunities is key to leveraging your experience to trade more money. By understanding these factors, you will be in a better position to negotiate a salary that reflects your value.

Step 3: Timing is everything

When it comes to asking for a raise, timing is everything. You don’t want to ask too soon after starting a new job, when the company is under financial pressure/turbulence, or if you’re not performing well at your job.

Instead, wait until you’ve been with the organization for at least six months to a year, the company is meeting its financial goals, you’re still hiring, and your job performance is strong. This will show that you are committed to the company and give you the opportunity to prove your worth and track record.

In periods of high inflation, prosperous companies still hire talent to increase revenue and minimize expenses. It is in a company’s best interest to retain its employees, as it can be incredibly expensive to hire new ones, in addition to the additional workload and stress placed on the remaining team members.

Questions to investigate and evaluate:

  • Have I been in this job 6 months or more?
  • Is my business performing financially? Are there layoffs?
  • Is my performance review cycle coming up soon? Negotiating during a performance review can help you leverage your performance for a bigger pay raise.

Step 4: Evaluate and document your performance

To confidently ask for a raise, you must be able to objectively document and evaluate your performance against your job description and objectives. This will help you build a strong case for why you deserve more money.

Questions to investigate and evaluate:

  • Have you exceeded your goals? How much?
  • Are you currently exceeding your goals?
  • Are you a high performance artist?
  • Have you taken on additional responsibilities?
  • Are you playing a bigger role than you get paid for?
  • Have you received positive feedback from your manager or others in the organization?
  • How has it helped the company save money or make money?

Action to take:

  • Document a comprehensive list of 10 or more quantitative measures of how you have added value to the organization.
  • You must be prepared to come to the table with proof of your excellent performance and why choosing to invest more resources in you is a wise and critical decision that will help the company to be more successful over time.
  • By taking the time to document and evaluate your performance, you’ll be able to build a strong case for why you deserve a raise. This will give you the confidence you need to negotiate a salary that reflects your market value.

Step 5: Schedule the conversation with your boss

Once you feel confident and ready, it’s time to schedule a meeting with your boss to talk. This is where you will make your case for why he deserves a raise and ask for what he wants. It’s important to come to this conversation prepared and not throw the conversation about your boss out of an established meeting.

Action to take:

Let your supervisor know that you would like to speak with him. If they ask why you want to meet, you can tell them you’d like to talk about his job performance and future career opportunities.

Step 6: Prepare for the meeting

Now that you’ve done your research, prepared your case, and booked your meeting, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to have the conversation. This is where many people get nervous and begin to doubt themselves. The best resource you have is preparation and proof of your worth. Remember, you are not begging, you are asking for what you deserve. Be confident and firm in your request.

The key is to be prepared and practice what you are going to say so you can have a successful conversation with your boss about getting a raise.

Questions to investigate and evaluate:

  • Do I trust my results and performance to attend this meeting and objectively present the value I bring to the organization?
  • Have I reviewed the scripts of what to say during the meeting?
  • Do I feel confident and prepared to have this meeting?
  • Am I willing to ask uncomfortable questions now to bring more comfort and stability to my future?

Action to take:

  • Review the meeting outline and discussion points.
  • Prepare an opening statement outlining your case for a raise.
  • Write anything else you want to say in the conversation.
  • Practice with a friend or family member.

Step 7: Meet with your boss and ask for a raise

During this meeting, it is important to remember to be confident, firm, and clear in your application. Be prepared to answer any questions they may have about your performance or why you deserve a raise. If you say no, consider negotiating other forms of compensation, such as more vacation days, flexible work hours, or additional benefits. If they can’t meet other compensation, discuss what would need to happen to give you a raise in salary and/or title (since higher titles usually come with higher compensation).

The goal is to leave the meeting with a clear understanding of everything you have successfully negotiated, what you have agreed to, and when it comes into effect.

If the conversation was unsuccessful, remember that you have value and sometimes we will need to move on and work with other organizations and leaders who appropriately value our abilities.

Questions to investigate and evaluate:

  • Reflect on the conversation. How was she? How did you feel after? Did you get what you asked for? What was agreed?

Action to take:

  • Check out how the meeting went. Document the conversation for your files.
  • Follow up with your boss with an email thanking them for having the conversation and everything that was agreed upon with the specific date.
  • If the conversation required further follow-up or requirements for a future date, be sure to include that in the email.
  • If you were not satisfied with the outcome of the conversation, consider whether this is the right company or opportunity for you. It may be time to move on to new adventures.

By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to confidently asking for a raise and getting the compensation you deserve. Prepare as much as you can and you’ll be in a much better position to ask for a raise and get the salary you deserve.

Lindsay Mustain is a best-selling author and former talent acquisition strategist at Amazon.

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