How to Ask for a Wage Hike Without Being Accused of ‘Entitlement’

There’s an imbalance in how much we’re getting paid – and it’s not just that the mass of people are working their socks off to get by while fat cats accumulate more wealth than they could ever need.

The imbalance is that a surprising 7 in 10 of us will be successful when we ask our boss for a raise – but only one in three of us are bold enough speak up.

Part of the problem is that, as a generation, we’ve been shamed into thinking that it’s rude to ask for more. We’d rather work fifty-hour weeks, fifty weeks a year than risk being labeled ‘entitled’ for working conditions that give us room to live our lives.

So if you suspect you’re earning less than you deserve but don’t feel it’s appropriate to speak up, the first person you have to convince is yourself.

Do your research

You may never come to a satisfactory answer to the value of giving one-third of your waking life to your employer. But you can at least figure out if other people who do similar work to you are getting paid more.

In fact, there’s a website for that: Payscale. Or and Glassdoor might also clue you up.

Look for people in roles similar to yours, but bear in mind not just the pay and the hours but the perks, the out-of-hours work, and the unique value that you bring to the role.

If you have more experience and qualifications in a near-identical role to someone who’s paid the same as you, then you’re underpaid. You are literally ‘entitled’ to more than you’re earning, not in the modern sense of ‘disproportionate sense of entitlement,’ but in the literal sense that you have a right to better pay.

The next person to convince is your boss.

Making an approach

It’s no use waking up feeling undervalued, Googling the salaries of your peers, and then turning up to work with an expectant grin on your face. Getting a raise requires work by itself.

Spend some time evaluating the way that you communicate at work. Without showing-off, be vocal about the value that you bring to the team. Request a one-on-one with your boss so they can give you feedback, and you can make sure they know just what a good job you’re doing. Remember, your boss hasn’t seen your resume since your interview; they may have forgotten your true potential.

And don’t rely on what you already have on paper. Increase your value by investing time in further personal development. Take night classes or development opportunities at work. A great way to flag this up to your boss is to ask them to recommend courses or subjects to brush up on.

Your employers are more likely to want to bump up your salary if they feel they are investing in something that will continue to pay off for them, rather than bribing you not to quit. So talk about your role within the team and your eagerness to fulfill your potential within that company. It shouldn’t become an us vs. them scenario.

Keep trying

If you ask for a raise every Monday when you show up at work, your boss will soon get sick of you. But if your first effort to get what you want fails, be prepared to work at it.

Negotiate. Find a middle-ground that you’re prepared to accept, even if that means accepting perks rather than a cash bonus. Figure out what you can offer and what your boss needs. You don’t have to be sly about this: literally ask them, What do I need to work on to improve my salary here?

Then, three months down the line, prove to them you’ve worked on it. In fact, prove it to them in your performance every day of the week.

Worker remuneration will never be 100% fair. But it can be better. To improve your salary, start working through this new visual resource from Because, as they say, you’re worth it.

About the author: John Cole writes on behalf of NeoMam Studios. A digital nomad specializing in leadership, digital media, and personal growth topics, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in the UK, Norway, and the Balkans.

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