Yes, this seems like the worst possible time to ask for a raise — and of course, it’s also the time when you need a raise the most.
If it’s been some multiple of six months since you started at your company, or if you have done some very valuable work recently, then you are fully entitled to ask for more money. The worse your boss can do is say “no.” (I’ve worked for at least one company that had a habit of firing anyone who asked for a raise. You don’t want to work for that kind of employer anyway.)
Some workers don’t ever ask for raises, under the assumption the company won’t give them one. But increases in compensation are your right. Some bosses are perfectly happy to give raises, but won’t do it until they are asked.
Take the risk. You might get more money.
Put together your case for a raise. You’re not simply asking for more money, you’re selling yourself as an employee who deserves more compensation. Make a written list of your accomplishments. Have some ideas for improving your work in the future. But never compare yourself favorably to other employees — I do way more work than Barry, and he’s always late. Sell the positives about yourself, but don’t drag in the negatives of others.
Be confident. If you’re unsure you deserve a raise, then why should your boss believe it any more than you do?
Talk to your boss in private. Never discuss compensation in front of others; and never talk about your pay to anyone but your superior or human resources. I once had my boss’ boss tell me I made more money than my immediate superior — this was meant to convince me I didn’t need a raise. Instead, I was (1) appalled that my boss made less than I did and (2) appalled that this guy would tell me about it.
Don’t demand a specific dollar figure. And certainly don’t make ultimata — I’ll quit of you don’t pay me $65,000. If your boss wants to give you a raise, let him or her come up with an amount. If it’s not enough, then you can try negotiating. But never threaten, even if you do plan to quit if the money’s not enough.
If you get a raise, show your appreciation. Hardly anyone celebrates a raise by giving their boss flowers, or a card, or an edible fruit bouquet. Bosses like to feel appreciated, especially if he or she had to go to bat with upper management to approve your raise. Show that you’re thankful. (Your boss may not want other employees to know you got a raise. If so, then keep your gesture of appreciation low key.)
Got any advice for employees seeking more money? Let us know in the comments!
Team-building exercises are never fun — unless it’s the kind where they fly everyone to Jamaica. But if you’re forced to sit through something like this, pound a nail into your head. It’s less painful, and you can get worker’s comp.
vis-à-vis: This is French, and means “in relation to.” (It’s actually a type of carriage where the occupants face each other.) It’s perfectly fine, if it’s used every once in a while — but when overused it’s really annoying. Although the phrase literally translates as “face-to-face,” don’t use it that way — say face-to-face or in person.
become more finite, make more finite: Some business people use this to mean “decrease” or “reduce,” or to refer to progress completing a list of goals — we will reassess as our deliverables become more finite. This is terrible. English is malleable, but not this malleable. Something cannot become more “finite,” no more than someone can be more dead or more pregnant. Don’t use this.
diversifying the brand: This phrase actually has a meaning — expanding the use of an existing brand to sell items not previously associated with the brand. For instance, when Procter & Gamble uses the “Pringles” brand to sell other kinds of snacks, or things that are not snacks, it has “diversified the brand.” Unfortunately, marketing people throw around this phrase as if it could mean anything, rendering it meaningless. If you’re going to use jargon, at least use it in a way that aids in communication — that is to say, accurately.
circle with: Intended to mean “to meet with,” as in why don’t you circle with Greg and Lacey, and get back to me.” This makes no sense whatsoever, unless you’re forming a knitting circle or a drum circle. Anyone who says this should be circling with everyone else in the unemployment line.
A note on rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question is a statement phrased as a question that does not require an answer. Why don’t we meet again tomorrow? And John, how about you put together that report? The person saying this isn’t asking, he or she’s telling.
The only problem with rhetorical questioning is overuse. If every command out of your mouth is phrased as a question, you will sound precious and silly — and seeming silly is a poor management technique. Some managers express instructions as questions to seem less like they’re giving orders, and more like they are making suggestions. But are you making suggestions? If it’s an instruction, use the imperative — be here at 8am tomorrow, not can you be here at 8am tomorrow?
For some reason, it is really, really annoying to answer a rhetorical question as if it were a question, especially when answering in the negative. Why don’t you finish this report for me? — Because I’m busy. This often invokes an angry retort — well, do it anyway! Respond to rheotrical questions as if they were statements. Let’s continue this after lunch, shall we? — Oh, I’m afraid I can’t. How about 4pm?
Men assume that because proper interview attire isn’t the minefield for them it is for women, they don’t have to worry too much about what they wear to a job interview.
You may think your resume or cover letter gives a prospective employer their first real impression of you. Nope — that just gets you in the door, and by the time of the actual interview, an employer may have forgotten everything in your resume, or not even have read it yet.
It’s the first moment that an interviewer sees you that gives them their most important impression of you. Is this prejudice? Only if they’re judging you based on race or ethnicity. You choose your hairstyle, choose your hygiene, control your own gait and posture, and you select your own clothes. These are all messages you select and control. If you’re not aware of them, controlling them, then who know what you are telling the world about yourself?
As the great David Byrne once sang, “I am just an advertisement for a version of myself.”
Let’s talk clothes.
Have at least two suits — a formal suit and a casual one. I guess what I mean by “casual suit” isn’t really a suit — it’s a coordinated shirt, slacks and sports coat combo, usually a medium-to-dark earth tone. This is what you wear when, and only when, the employer instructs you not to wear a suit to the interview. The rest of the time, wear a nice two-piece suit, purchased within the last five years, excellent condition (no wear or stains), dark blue or charcoal. Black is acceptable, but makes you look like you’re going to a funeral — wear a colored tie to cheer it up.
Wear a nice shirt. White is best, properly fitted, with stays in the collars. If you know how to coordinate a colored shirt, go ahead — but white is safer. No French cuffs unless you’re French. Cuff links are nice — silver, not gold — but not necessary. No stains — eat before you change for the interview.
Also, make sure your suit and shirt are all newly dry-cleaned and pressed. Or at least iron them yourself.
Wear a tie. The tie should be silk, either a solid color or a subtle pattern. Absolutely do not wear any kind of novelty tie to a job interview. You can wear a college tie — if you know in advance that your interviewer went to that college. Otherwise, keep it simple and conservative. Clip-on ties are for blue collar workers circa 1953. Are you a blue collar worker, circa 1953?
Wear nice shoes. Yes, people look at your shoes. Wear leather business shoes, lace-up or slip-on, preferably black or brown. Spend some money, if for no other reason than pricier shoes will be more comfortable than cheap ones, and you never know how far you will have to walk from the car, or how long you might need to stand. Don’t think you can get away with black sneakers — this screams “I’m a recent college grad and I live in my Mom’s basement.”
Match your socks. Buy nice socks, and make sure they color coordinate with your suit and shoes. This is one of the little trivial things employers notice. If you’re wearing white sports socks with your black suit and loafers, you will not make a good impression.
Wear a belt. Like shoes, belts quickly wear out and become damaged. Have a recently purchased belt that fits properly — no extra long belt poking out of your suit. A slender belt is better than a thicker one. And absolutely no novelty buckles. Unless you live in Texas.
Groom your facial hair. If you are clean shaven, then make sure you really are clean shaven — take extra time to shave before an interview. Get under the chin. Even up those sideburns. Trim your nose hair.
If you have facial hair, you’re already at a disadvantage — some employers still think it’s 1947, and frown on beards and mustaches. Some firms even have policies against facial hair — you do not want to work there, unless you enjoy mandatory calisthenics, “WWJD” mugs and daily venerations of Walt Disney.
So if you have facial hair, trim it closely and evenly. Long beards are for pirates and hermits. Shave the edges to keep the beard neat.
Also, it’s 2009 — mustaches with no beard are appropriate only for cops and gay men. Tom Selleck can get away with it — you can’t.
Wear a watch. You will need to know the time. Actually, you can get away with almost anything for a watch — unusual watches make good conversation pieces. If a firm is unusually conservative, stick to a conservative watch.
The rules for proper business attire for men are quite simple. Sure, men get them wrong all the time, but they are simple.
For women, things are more complicated. This is because male hominids are genetically programmed to sexually objectify female hominids, especially the hot ones. It’s in the female hominid’s best interests to dress asexually, so as to be taken seriously as a workmate rather than a sexual conquest. Yet she must dress provocatively enough so as not to invite scorn. It’s a balance between a burka and Dr. Lisa Cuddy.
Here are some quick tips for female job interview attire. One general rule: while it’s generally undesirable to dress as generally undesirable — that is, too much “like a man” — it is better to dress less feminine than to wear an outfit that is too sexy. Yes, dressing provocatively may very well help you get hired — if the boss is a guy. But he’s not the kind of guy for whom you’ll want to work. To put it in terms familiar to D&D players: you want to be charismatic, not comely.
Wear a suit. Make it navy, black or dark gray. Some misguided people will tell you that a red outfit is a “power” outfit. Unfortunately, there are still people in the 21st Century who think a red outfit on a woman means she is a prostitute. Also, avoid lavender, aqua and other ’80s colors. These colors say “I collect unicorns and watch QVC while I cry into my Ben & Jerry’s.”
Wear a skirt or pants. Well, obviously — don’t show up in a thong. If you wear a skirt, keep it below the knee with no provocative slit along the side. If an employer requires its female employees to wear skirts, do not work there. You do not want to associate with those people. Unless you enjoy “Power Prayer Breakfasts,” “No on Prop. 8″ rallies, glass ceilings, and anti-Semitism.
Coordinate your blouse. You are safer with a perfectly opaque blouse, but a VERY SLIGHTLY transparent one should be fine. If I can read the label on your bra, it’s no good. Make sure the color coordinates with your suit. Oh, and those blouses with frilly junk along the front? Don’t do that. You’re not a pirate.
Minimal jewelry. Small earrings (non-dangling), a thin necklace and a ring. That’s it. Wear all silver or platinum — gold jewelry is for Jersey mob wives. (Whatever your wedding ring is, even if it’s awful, you can wear it. No one expects you to take off your wedding ring. Although your next husband should have better taste.) Avoid cheap jewelry — better to wear none.
Also, wearing multiple rings implies you lost your virginity in the wheat germ hut at Burning Man. Save that stuff for your off-hours.
Wear pantyhose. For the interview, anyway. Yes, in 20 years this ridiculous clothing item won’t exist anymore. But for right now, wear the damn things. Wear neutral pantyhose — colored hose are for porn stars and Harajuku girls.
Wear sensible shoes. First, keep them dark and coordinate them with your suit. Avoid buckles, frills and bells. “Light-up” clear plastic heels are right out.
Second, wear comfortable shoes. DO NOT WEAR HIGH HEELS. It’s not necessary, and you walk like a hobbled calf. Why spend your interview in severe pain? Men may notice if you wear high heels, but they won’t notice if you don’t. It’s time to end the tyranny of the cruel shoe.
There is nothing wrong with cliches or overused phrases– unless you are trying to be interesting, or engage your listener/reader, or appear intelligent.
Here are words and phrases that should hit the road, especially in your writing:
Basically…. Basically, when you say basically, you’re basically saying nothing. It’s exactly equivalent to saying “um….” If you are about to take a complex topic and distill it to its basic points, then you have my permission to start your sentence with basically. Otherwise, I basically wish you would basically not use it, basically. It’s, like, not good and stuff. Basically.
Think outside the box. Once upon the time, everyone lived in a rigid little world of Mao suits and Little Red Books, and no one had a thought that defied the established orthodoxy. Then, some brilliant motivational speaker said, think outside the box! No one knew what the box was, or what was in it, but when they started thinking outside the box, it gave us New Coke, Bratz dolls and predatory mortgages! Maybe we need more in-the-box thinking. Or a new way to say “please come up with an original idea.”
The bottom line and at the end of the day… The bottom line is, there’s nothing wrong with the phrase the bottom line is…, except that on January 12th, 2008 at 4:37 PM EST, it was spoken for the one billionth time, by an executive product manager for a septic tank manufacturer in Cleveland, Ohio. It is now officially overused, and has been banned by the International Commission on Not Sounding Trite in Helsinki, Finland.
At the end of the day, we can agree that at the end of the day is not as heinously overused — avoid it anyway.
To tell you the truth…. To tell you the truth, I don’t understand this phrase at all. Were you lying before? When did this life of duplicity begin? Does your spouse know? Let me tell you the actual truth — this phrase means nothing. It’s another way of saying um…, of wasting time while your brain composes a sentence.
Going forward…. Going forward, let’s say from now on instead, from now on. Also, in the future…, from this point…, and as a result of the excellent progress we have made today…. But not going forward — it’s been interdicted by the International Commission on Not Sounding Like a Douche in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Last week I asked are you employable? But if you have a job already, you already know the answer to that question.
But if you’re employed, in this economy, you can’t rest on your laurels. Ask yourself — are you “unfirable?” (I know, it’s not a real word.)
There are things you can do to lower the chance that, when your firm lets people go, you’ll be leading the procession:
Save the company money. If you can think of a way to save money, don’t keep it to yourself. Suggest it. Even if it’s just a one-time savings, your employers will remember the favor — and they may count the savings toward the cost of your salary.
Be irreplaceable. The easiest way to do this is to be great at your job. Also, having an irreplaceable skill set helps — this is easy for IT people, who can set up a computer network that only they will understand, guaranteeing permanent job security. But if you’re the only person at the company who understands the filing system, or who knows all the vendors, or who knows how to put the orders into the computer, then your job is just a bit safer.
Be a member of the family. This won’t save you if the firm absolutely has to cut jobs, but it can only help. Befriend your co-workers. Be pleasant and sociable with your bosses, even the difficult ones. Pitch in for birthday and wedding gifts. Go to Happy Hour every once in a while. You will (1) make new friends, possibly lifelong ones; (2) develop contacts that can help your career in the future, (3) make your workplace function better, and your job more enjoyable; and (4) make it that much harder to lay you off when the time comes.
Be reliable. This can be very hard — after all, there are genuinely unreliable people, but they never last long at any company. What’s hard is when a reliable person encounters unavoidable personal issues — family, health, economic — that while perfectly sympathetic and understandable, still mean you’re the one who is late to work, or leaves early, or misses days, or can’t work beyond normal hours. And when it comes time to lay people off, that’s what employers remember.
So what can you do if life interferes with your job? I don’t know. In this economy, if the life issues are relatively minor — school issues for your kids, marital problems, general economic stresses — then do everything in your power to insulate your work from these, even if it upsets your family.
If the issues are major — divorce, a death, a long-term illness — then maybe there is nothing you can do, except face the fact that your job is in danger and do whatever you can to prepare for that.
Have an affair with the boss. Just kidding. Seriously, that’s a bad idea.
Know of other ways to become “unfirable?” Let us know in the comments!
You Found Employment Crossroads — Now do something with it.
In the miracle that is cyberspace, you've no doubt read a zillion blogs and websites about how to improve your employment picture. It's kind of sick and ironic that employment among employment "experts" seems to be doing just fine. Dubious at best.
Well, we do things a little differently here, and it boils down to basically two options:
A) Keep going to employment sites that only feature ads paid for by employers; or
B) Try something that works.
This blog is published by EmploymentCrossing.com. We feature the most comprehensive websites on the PLANET that don't charge employers to post their jobs with us. Think about that...And as we say during our elevator pitches to people who don't quite get why that's important: