I have not got a raise at work for some time - almost two years - and I think I am due. I did not ask during the crisis because other companies were laying off, etc. Mine didn't lay off, we actually came through OK. Anyway, how can I figure out what is a fair amount to ask for? I have been working for five years since I graduated and my responsibilities have grown in these past two years. My last raise was modest but nothing spectacular. Do you have any tips on how I can figure out what is fair? I don't want to be seen as greedy but I also think I deserve more than I am making now. Thank you in advance.
Others may disagree, but I'd recommend simply asking for a raise and see what they suggest. I've done this a few times and had them give me more than I would have asked for.
Here are some more thoughts:
Consider inflation as a foundation...
People often overlook inflation when requesting a salary increase. The cost of living is almost always rising. If you're going to ask for a raise, make sure you take that into account. (See also: How much is inflation?)
Try to find out how much inflation has been over the time period since your last raise. In order for your purchasing power be restored to what it was originally, you need to win a raise that at least matches inflation. e.g. An offer for a 2% increase shouldn't suffice if inflation was 3.5% over the same period.
...Plus, you're experience has increased. What's the "new you" worth?
Let's say you get a raise matching inflation: You're keeping up, but not actually any better off. How could you have justified more? Consider: your boss now has an employee with more experience, but is paying the same, in inflation-adjusted terms, as before. The new you is a bargain at the old you price!
If you believe increased skill & experience are worth something and are confident you're providing more value for money, don't just aim for a raise matching inflation. Demonstrate how much more productive you are. The list of achievements and salary survey JCarterRN mentions are helpful to make your case.
...Finally, learn how to negotiate.
I really like the book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher & William Ury. There's a good summary of the ideas in the book at Getting to YES – Wikipedia. The book describes principle-based negotiation, objective criteria, and understanding your BATNA, or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. I find myself re-reading Getting to Yes the night before an important negotiation.
Salary.com can give you a salary range for your position in your area. If you feel you're above average, aim for the high end.
If you have a close enough relationship with any of your coworkers, they may be willing to tell you what they're making, but of course that can be an awkward conversation, so don't be pushy if they're not offering.
Before you go asking for anything, make sure you can defend your case. It's not greedy if you really do deserve it. Come up with a list of your achievements, focusing on how it has benefited the company (especially financially). Print out the numbers from salary.com, if you want. And I think it's better to give your boss a heads up before busting into his or her office to talk about compensation. Depending on your management structure, the person you're asking for a raise may not know what you currently make off the top of his or her head. Email ahead of time and request to set up a meeting to discuss "your future with the company" or something like that that makes it clear what you're talking about while avoiding saying, "Can we meet so I can ask you for a raise?" You may want to send your achievements list ahead of time, too, so your boss has time to review it.
Good luck! Let us know how it goes. :)