Feeling Underpaid? How to Ask for — and Get — a Raise
I love my job, coworkers and law firm, and I’ve worked hard since I was hired. But despite my best efforts and the strong economy, I haven’t gotten a raise since joining the firm two years ago. How do I approach my boss about it?
Requesting a salary increase can be awkward, as
many people don’t want to come across as being ungrateful or demanding. But in
life, we often won’t get the things we want unless we come right out and ask
for them. The
same is true of a raise. But you must first have
a solid strategy. Here are four suggested steps:
1. Research salary data. Don’t just guess at
what you think you should be making. Use trusted resources like the Robert Half Legal 2019 Salary Guide to
help pinpoint what legal professionals with your job title, skill set and
years of experience are earning nationwide. Our Salary Calculator allows
you to customize the figures based on your location. With this
information in hand, you’ll be in a stronger position to convince
your boss you’re overdue for a raise.
2. Gather supporting evidence. Salary
figures are good, but it’s better to bolster your case even more
with documentation that demonstrates how you’ve gone above and
beyond. Jot down all the extra assignments you’ve taken on, as well
as the continuing legal education and professional development courses
you’ve completed. Received kudos from colleagues and clients? Add those
to the file, too. Your goal is to demonstrate how valuable
you are to the firm.
3. Be strategic in your timing. The “when”
of asking for a raise is as important as the “how.” Don’t approach your
boss about a salary increase if they’re getting ready to go on
vacation or your firm has just lost a major client. On the other hand, if you
were instrumental in winning an important case, take advantage of
the good timing and request a pay hike.
4. Have a fallback plan. No matter how meticulously you prepare your case, the ruling may not be in your favor. Decide in advance what you’d say in the event of a “no.” Perhaps you could negotiate additional employee perks, such as flexible scheduling, telecommuting options or additional vacation days. If your boss balks at the recurring expense of a salary raise, request a one-time bonus. The important thing is to have counterproposals at the ready.
Legal managers understand the need to keep top performers happy and motivated, but sometimes they need a gentle nudge about how to do that. So, prepare your arguments and make the case for a raise. Good luck.