There’s Still Time to Get that Raise for Next Year — If You Hurry

You’ve finally finished off the last of the leftovers from Thanksgiving, and now December is staring you in the face, another year gone by. Your wallet is also feeling the effects of those “doorbuster” specials from Black Friday. With the rest of the holiday activities looming, it sure would be nice to have some extra cash.

However, many people are nervous about approaching their boss to talk about their performance. They have questions. Is now a good time to ask? How should I approach the topic? Will I seem greedy? To make things easier, it helps to have a plan. Let’s call it

The Past, Present, and Future Plan

First, let’s talk timing. Many companies determine their budgets at other times during the year, or they may have already submitted their numbers for 2012 in early November, but there’s a chance that there is still some number-crunching being done right up until the end of the year. Ideally you want your voice heard before things are locked down, so don’t delay.

Next, if you feel that setting up a meeting to talk about a raise will immediately put your supervisor on the defensive, I recommend a somewhat softer approach. Tell your boss that you are planning your personal goals for 2012, and that you’d like to run them by him.

Organize your notes into three categories, past, present and future. For the past, go back over your notes, files, and emails from the previous year and review all your “wins.” If your boss manages multiple employees, their accomplishments sometimes start to run together. It’s your job to succinctly remind him of all the positive contributions you’ve made:

Did you . . . 

  • Kick off the year with a great sales meeting?
  • Land a huge account in the spring?
  • Pull off a summer marketing promotion on time and under budget?
  • Increase website traffic or the number of Facebook followers to your brand by 25% compared to last year?

Walk your boss through the highlights to give her a refresher, making sure to illustrate with revenue statistics how these tasks contributed to the bottom line.

Now on to the present. Many companies see a larger majority of their revenue realized in the fourth quarter. Talk about the most important project you are working on right now, and talk about how it will influence the numbers to end the year. While the rest of your colleagues are already starting to mentally check out as holiday parties, travel, and New Year’s Eve approach, show that you are ready to end the year strong, with one last push.

Looking toward the future, lay out your personal goals for next year. Are you looking to increase your sales, take on new and more interesting work, or move up to a new position? Your boss won’t know unless you tell her.

As you discuss your personal goals, the key phrase to ask is, “Can you tell me how well these personal goals align with your goals as a department head, as well as the overall company goals?”

What this plan does is remind your boss of all the hard work you’ve done all year, show that you are going to finish strong. It also demonstrates that not only do you care about your career path, but that you want the company to succeed as well.

Asking for the raise. If you’ve done your homework up to this point, the story might already speak for itself. You might transition by saying something like “When I sat down and ran all the numbers, I was even a little surprised myself to see that the projects I managed contributed more than $86,000 to the bottom line. Based on the work I’ve done this year, my plan to finish my current projects, and how I’m lined up to help the company in the future, can we talk about an increase in my compensation to reflect the work that I’ve accomplished this year?”

You’ve now opened up a dialogue with your manager to discuss any raises and promotions. This will probably go one of three ways:

1) If your boss doesn’t see the value of your work or you’re met with a negative reaction, well, all the homework you did summarizing all of your projects will look nice on your updated resume should you decide to look for new opportunities.
2) If your boss is supportive and wants to work with you, but postpones the subject of raises until next year, push harder when discussing your personal goals. Request a review a few months into the new year and increased compensation if you meet agreed-upon goals.
3) Lastly, if all goes well and you receive a nice fat bonus or an increase in your year-end paycheck, pay off a few of your outstanding bills, make sure you have an emergency fund set aside in case an unforeseen layoff does occur, and hey — maybe a new outfit for that upcoming holiday party is in order.

[Photo: Yandle/Flickr]

About this Gun

Jim Hopkinson

Jim Hopkinson

is an author, blogger, runner, and digital media guy living in New York City. Salary Tutor, his book about salary negotiation secrets, has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, and the New York Post. He hosts The Hopkinson Report, a podcast about new media, technology, branding, and helping people pursue their ideal career and lifestyle. His energetic approach has been called "audible caffeine." The former marketing director for, Jim teaches a social media class at NYU. Believing that every job-seeker should own their own domain name, Jim created, a step-by-step tutorial that shows how to create a website in 7 minutes.Follow @salarytutor.