Smart SpendingSmart Spending

7 things to do right now to land a big raise next year

Tired of getting only an annual cost-of-living adjustment to your salary? Try out these strategies to land a big raise next year.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 11, 2013 1:18PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.

MoneyTalksNews on MSN MoneyYou clock in every day, do your work and don't complain. You are golden; the boss will of course give you a decent raise next year.


Handshake (© Image Source Black/Jupiterimages)Maybe pre-Great Recession that was true, but employers are getting stingy with their money nowadays. Not only are raises getting smaller -- expected to be a paltry 3% in 2014, according to Buck Consultants -- but anecdotal evidence suggests some employers are giving up on annual automatic raises altogether.

So what do you do? Although there is no way to guarantee an increase, now is the time to lay the groundwork needed to get a good-size bump in your pay during the next round of raises.

1. Create your own list of greatest hits

Start by compiling a list of your accomplishments for the year. Be precise and specific. Rather than stating that you implemented cost-saving strategies, list what those were and how much they saved. Don't forget to include peripheral activities such as training new colleagues or mentoring interns.

Then, when you go in for your annual review, you have evidence that you are a valuable employee. It also keeps your past activities at the forefront of your mind so you can casually drop into a conversation with the boss, "Oh yeah, we did that with the Jackson case." Those little reminders can help ensure that the boss associates you with success.

2. Be your boss's all-star

If your greatest hits list is a little thin (just showing up doesn't cut it), then you need to jump on the opportunity to snag some of the boss’s pet projects. At the weekly office meetings, when she asks for someone to pick up a task, you should be the first to volunteer.

Does this make you look like a brown-noser to your co-workers? Maybe. But ask yourself what is more important: getting the 5% raise or impressing the guy in the next cubicle? Enough said.

3. Learn new skills … and love doing it

Along those same lines, be the first to sign up for that workshop on improving interdepartmental communications or maximizing production efficiencies. They may be dull, but being enthusiastic about attending conferences and workshops helps position you as the team player who loves his job.

In addition, gaining additional certifications and training can help bolster your case that you are a valuable asset and deserving of greater compensation.

4. Participate in the potluck and go to the holiday party

The holidays are right around the corner and that means the chance for plenty of bonding time with your boss and co-workers. You may dread spending time at the office after hours, but these are prime opportunities to network with the folks who are responsible for your paycheck.

It might not seem fair, but when it comes time to pass out raises, the boss may have trouble remembering who Anti-Social Andrew is and what he's done. Meanwhile, he'll be able to put a face to Friendly Frieda's name and know she has two kids and attended the regional conference last year. The result may mean more money for Frieda while Andrew is stuck with a cost-of-living adjustment.

5. Match the office culture

Likewise, be sure your persona matches the office culture. If jeans rule at your workplace, showing up in a suit and tie may be off-putting. At the same time, dressing down and calling your boss "bro" in a formal environment is probably going to backfire.

You don't want to blend in with the masses, but you do want to look like you belong. Failing to understand and match your employer's preferences can inadvertently make you look like a.) a loose cannon or b.) stuffy and condescending. Neither is good when it comes time to make promotion and compensation decisions.

6. Ask how you can help

Getting a merit raise can be as much about appearances as it is about performance. It is human nature to want to support people we like and to reciprocate when someone helps us.

Use this to your advantage by approaching your boss and proactively asking if there are any new projects that need to be picked up. Another approach might be to propose a new strategy based upon past successes. This option lets you subtly play up your previous accomplishments as well. Either way, you are positioning yourself as the go-getter who wants to help the company succeed.

7. Be direct

Finally, you may be tired of dropping hints and hoping for the best. If you think you are under-compensated and want to address the issue head-on, do some homework first.

Timing the "I'd like a raise" discussion can be critical, and be sure your company is on sound financial ground before you broach the subject.

Then, find benchmark salary data for comparison from sources such as, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Make sure your list of greatest hits backs up the assertion you deserve to earn more.

Finally, check your emotions at the door and keep the conversation positive -- or at least neutral -- even if things don't go your way.

Raises of 1% and 2% have been the norm in recent years for many employees, but consulting firm Mercer says the highest performing workers can expect to get average increases of 4.6% this year. Wouldn't you like to be one of them?

Do your job and use these tips to help prove you are the top performer who deserves better than average.

More on Money Talks News:

Oct 11, 2013 10:30PM
I worked for a company five years, never received one dime of a raise. In fact as an hourly all I got for being johnny on the spot were more hours and less time. They finally asked me to work in the company warehouse as their inventory and fleet manager plus, ship production materials to offsite projects and 100 technicians covering half the US. Half my weekends gradually dissappeared.  I never missed a shipment, never an error, on time every time. My reward: company healthcare and $40 increase in my weekly pay. I thanked them for their generosity and left the company to work for myself.
Oct 11, 2013 6:32PM

Unfortunately much of the American work experience is played out in the land of the ****-kisser.

Oct 11, 2013 6:54PM
I have my own business so my raises are dependent on me... not a boss.
Oct 11, 2013 2:31PM

Number 8


Ignore 1-7 because once again the tight bastards won't be giving you or anybody else jack sh*t. They figure you are just lucky to have a job here on the plantation. The COLA disappeared in 2008, along with half the employees, who now look for any kind of work and start every day wondering how the hell they are going to put food on the table this week.


Glad I bailed last year and opted to take Social Security. At least it's there every month.

Oct 13, 2013 12:04AM
Tried all those beautifully said things to get a raise. I was just Angel of the month or employee of the month for Victoria Secrets in Minnesota. I am dedicated to the company and want to be an asset to them. But they do not give raises. I am really taken back by this. I get compliments all day from employees and customers. I might try contacting coorperate in New York. I truly believe if they new what they had or what they might loose, they would make some changes. Wish me luck!
Oct 11, 2013 8:16PM
Or..... stick your tongue up your bosses butt!
Oct 11, 2013 4:50PM
I agree with most of the ideas, I think plain spoken, business professional and respect for job, boss and co-workers is a must and if you can't fill that role then quit and find something you can align with. It must be fun and promising. 
Oct 14, 2013 10:48AM
What the heck are you smoking? Most middle class workers I know will be happy just to keep their friggin jobs! Do we dream of a pay raise? OF COURSE, but it's no longer the primary concern as we watch our long-term co-workers around us losing their jobs.

We HAVE to do everything on your list JUST to KEEP our jobs.

We WANT job the way, anyone else work with China regularly? Do you notice how many holidays they have off from work now?....way more than we have in the US.

Maybe we need to learn to speak and write Mandarin, then maybe we have a chance for a raise.
Oct 15, 2013 9:12AM

I guess I have a bit of a different story than you all. I have been with the same company for 9 years. The same company I started with fresh out of college. My pay has more than doubled, perhaps I started at the low end, but I have worked my way up. Key word being worked! I started off in a production job and now I am in our research and development department, much more challenging and rewarding.


I think the largest problem with people my age complain complain complain. I work sooo hard and don't get anything in return. I'm blessed because I paid for most my college education with doing construction and roofing during the summer. That there son, is hard work. I haven't worked that hard since then and can only praise god for that. So what I want to say to the "complainers", just do your job and help others without complaining because you are going to end up doing the work anyway!

Oct 14, 2013 1:47PM

Can you pick stock market winners consistently?  Would you like to get so empowered?

If anyone asked me that question 20 years ago, I wouldn't have answered 'yes'. But

in the interim I retired, bought  a computer, learned to use it and found I needed a time

consuming low cost hobby which interested me. So, I began studying the stock market,

which locused studying equity shares, though for some it might include specialization

in bonds, currency, mutual funds, commodities, trading or options risking.


If you could pick market winners in advance, most other private industry jobs you'd

embrace would expand to include this other 'financial' wizardry talent, i.e. market

forecaster, trader, profit-revenue generator.  Few foremen/managers/officers/superiors

would deny you corporate recognition to a certain echelon IF you had a proven track

record. It's a rare business that only requires raw capital investment/trading to flourish.

Your bosses would probably use you as a consultant for those activities if for no other

reason than to boost their overall managerial productivity savvy. 


An ability to increase corporate revenues 50K upwards regularly is no insignificant skill.

You might want to begin acquiring such abilities to supplement your continuing educational

portfolio. And market-trading is easily done from a home-office as well. 


Some seem to catch trends easier than others -- perhaps you are one of those?

Oct 14, 2013 11:15AM

What planet are you on? Getting a raise in the world of Obama is a pipe dream, unless you are an Obama crony...

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.