There are so many things I loved about my day job starting out. There are also so many things I hated about it, after nearly 3 years. I’ve been working since I was 15 so I’m well aware that you take the good with the bad.
But what happens when there seems to be more negative feelings than good? You have to reevaluate the situation.
Should I quit? Is there something that would make things easier? What are some changes I can make to be happier here? Is it pay? Often people say that pay won’t make you happier but I think depending on the situation it might be a fix.
No matter what people say feeling unvalued can be a result of low pay. Don’t stay at a miserable job because the pay is awesome, but don’t think your intentions are wrong if you want to get paid what you’re worth.
Take my experience for example.
I had been at my job for 2 ½ years when I felt like I was starting to hate it. I was annoyed all the time and getting out of bed felt like punishment.
Then it hit me, I realized I felt fiscally unappreciated. My boss told me all the time how much she appreciated my hard work (she was the only one) and how she didn’t know what she would do without me but it didn’t make me feel any better.
I was in my mid-twenties living within my means but always feeling like I was just barely scraping by. Perfectly aligning my bills to fall on certain days and constantly dipping into my savings.
I was resenting that I was working so hard and making so little.
I know what you’re thinking… another entitled millennial who thinks they don’t get paid enough…
Just stay with me here and you’ll understand that’s not the case.
I was talking to an older friend who had been in a similar situation. The reason I was hating my job was because I was stressing about money while basically doing 6 jobs.
I was hired as Marketing Associate but was also acting as Office Admin, Secretary, Receptionist, Event Coordinator and (Part-Time) Maid.
Some people are quick to jump to, “maybe that’s all they could afford to pay you“. Well, as Event Coordinator and newly promoted Marketing Director (minus a raise… I’m sorry a title without a pay raise is just a company’s way of making you feel better about more work) I was privy to how much we spent on certain things, this year we’d spend my salary on Marketing activities that didn’t do much for us and half my salary on our anniversary event. The 3% raise I received after my two-year anniversary felt like a slap in the face.
I want to clarify my bosses are good people but they made one vital business mistake, they assumed I was a young, polite woman who wouldn’t fight it.
Let me paint an even clearer picture for you
Let’s do the math in case you don’t understand my frustration.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the mean average wage for my position is $65,000 (I didn’t make that by a long shot).
- Office Admin mean in Texas $35,330
- Secretary mean in Texas $35,255
- Receptionist mean in Texas $25,990
- Event Planners mean in Texas $48,580
- Maid mean in Texas $19,570 – part time 9,785
Total= $219,940 I was roughly making a 6th of that.
See where my frustration came from? Of course, I didn’t expect to make $220,000, I’m not crazy but as a degreed vital member of the staff I knew I could and should be getting paid more than what I was.
The real breaking point
It was a relatively small company and because of the way it was set up we didn’t have the option of direct deposit. Every payday we got good ole’ fashion paper checks. This one particular day I was on the phone when they were handed out, I heard tapping on the divider to discover my coworker waving her check at me. Now I know you’re thinking… What? Turn out they passed out our checks without signing them…this was the second thing I noticed.
The first? She was making nearly 2,000 more a month than me. My coworker with no degree and who had been there half the amount of time as me and had far less responsibility.
My hands were shaking I was so enraged. That’s when I knew I had to do something.
Where people go wrong when asking for more money
I’m sure at some point you know someone who went straight to, “I’ll quit if I don’t get a raise.” Or in my case might have made a fuss about the difference in pay between them and their coworker. I went a smarter route, I didn’t throw a fit or walk into the office demanding more, I came up with a plan.
I decided to do some research. Anyone who knows me, knows I tend to overthink and try to research every aspect of any possible choice or action.
Here is what I did and the right way to ask for a raise.
I created a report for my bosses and included all of the following items:
Know the statistics.
I used the U.S. Bureau of Labor to see where I was on the pay scale. Be realistic. If you’re making $28,000 and the average for your position is $32,000 don’t go in demanding $35,000. It’s not likely you will get $35,000.
Don’t just look up these facts print them out and take them as back-up for your request.
Remind Them of Your Past Value
You can’t just say, “Other people make this, so I should too. You need to remind them of the things you do for them and why giving you a raise is the better choice than hiring a replacement.
Not only did I include the average pay in my state on my report but the averages of all the other positions I do, along with a list of all the tasks I perform weekly. Nothing is too small.
“Wipe down kitchen and take out trash at the end of the day.”
They probably don’t want to do that.
Also write down a list of major accomplishments.
Some of mine included:
–Published 48 Original Blog posts (meaning I wrote and uploaded them to the website)
- Coordinated 3 events
- Guest lists range 39– 92
- Budget range $____-$_______
Another thing I included was comments from emails from clients or coworkers. Stuff like,
“Dia, I don’t know what I’d do without you. You are always so helpful and quick.”
If you’ve made a significant plan or done something to save the company money, then be sure to mention that.
Make a plan for how to increase your value
Don’t just try to ride on your past accomplishments. Talk about your plans for the future and how you plan to help the company grow.
I included ideas to grow the companies social media following.
A detailed explanation of how one particular duty was costing us hundreds of dollars each quarter and how to cut that down.
I also came up with an in-depth plan to cut $20,000 from the Marketing budget.
Decide how much you want
Once you have the numbers you can make an informed decision on how much to ask for.
I went in asking for 12%, expected 6% and hoping for 8%.
I used a great (FREE) website Pay Raise Calculator for this part. It allowed me to see what each figure would break down to hourly, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly and annually (for budgeting purposes).
You can also print this out and put it into your report so they can see the figure from each angles.
12% (or whatever you select) may seem like a lot but seeing it at an hourly rate makes it less intimidating to them.
Ask in a formal manner
I know most bosses are busy, so get on their calendar! If they ask what it’s about tell them, you want to talk about your expectations and plans for the next year (quarter, etc). I recommend going in the order listed above. Start with your accomplishments and plans then go into pay. If you start with pay you will probably lose them or not have their full attention as they crunch numbers in their head.
First wow them with your awesomeness, then ask for money.
Figure out how long you are willing to wait for a decision
Hopefully, they will get back to you rather quickly and tell you, “Yes, you deserve it!”
But more than likely that won’t be the case. You need to decide if this is going to be a deal breaker for you. If they say no, with no pay increase will that be your sign to start looking for a new job?
How long do you think it should take? If they wait too long to respond they may be hoping that you just forget about it or take it as a no (which you obviously won’t).
How it turned out for me
About 2 weeks after asking they told me they are reviewing it and would let me know soon.
3 more weeks passed and that’s when I decided to look for a new job. Within about a week I’d had 2 promising interviews with another company.
Like an ex who broke your heart and then calls you after a great 3rd date with a new person, they told me the day before my final interview they would be giving me 10%.
I ended up taking the job, not just better pay and but for better growth opportunities.
I’m sure it was a hard blow (they even told me so) but at the end of the day I needed to do what was best for me.
Would I have even looked for a job if they’d answered me sooner? I don’t know, probably not. Either way I’m a month into my new position and love it. I’m doing work I really enjoy and have the potential to grow in a way I didn’t have at the other company. AND I HAVE DENTAL! (#millennialgoals)
The experience came down to two things for me.
I had to blame myself and them. I should have asked before I was filled with 6 months of rage and frustration in my heart. So if you really believe you deserve a higher pay, ask! The worst thing that can happen is they say no and then you have to decide if it’s time to move on.
They should have put the money where their mouth was. If I was as valuable as they said they should have given me a better raise to start with. It didn’t make matters any better when I put in my notice and the first thing they asked was “Do you need more money?” So does that mean you still short changed me?
If you’re business owner, you shouldn’t wait to fiscally reward your employees as they are out the door.
Cutting ties in the best way
As I stated previously I knew how much my company and bosses relied on me. Not only did I give a 3-week notice instead of 2, I worked hard to make things as easy for my replacement. I created a 100-page guide with pictures and step by step instructions for all the things I did in the office. I even helped find my replacement. While they waited for her to start I continued to freelance and do work for them on the side so I wasn’t leaving them high and dry and met with my replacement after work to answer any questions.
Because I went above and beyond I know if this new job doesn’t work out (which I really hope it will) I can always count on them for a reference.
I will add one more piece of advice. If they say no, that awesome report you created wasn’t a waste of time, a lot of it can be used to help you find your new position. I took an altered version of my plan to my 1st job interview and I think it really helped. It showed that I was a thinker, go-getter and self-starter. If you do this be sure to remove any private company information like names or numbers.
Remember these tips only works as well as you do. If you are a great worker and your company can pay you more they probably will. If creating this report is the only effort you’ve ever put into your job , you probably shouldn’t expect a raise.
Have you ever asked for a raise? How did it go? How did you ask?