What’s Stopping You From Getting the Raise You Want?

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

There’s no denying that a raise is usually welcome news. Many of us strive for a raise, and that often includes putting in long hours, working as hard as we can, and trying our best to stand out against competition. However, some people take a less proactive stance and just assume that they will get annual rewards for doing a mediocre job.

While some companies do regularly give raises in order to match inflation, most employees have to work hard to earn a satisfactory increase in their paycheck. There are many reasons that someone might not get that bump, including personal, professional, and economic factors.

Here are some of the many reasons that might be hurting your chances of getting the raise you want. While some may be out of your hands, you might be able to improve your chances of earning one when funds are available.


According to an ABC news poll released in 2014, employees most want advice on how to get a pay raise. Seventy-one percent of respondents were extremely, very, or somewhat interested in this advice, which surpassed all other financial advice. This isn’t surprising, considering that we need money in order to pay our bills and to buy the things we want.

1. You might have to ask for it, and earn it

One of the most surprising reasons that people don’t get the raise they want is because they don’t ask. While many companies will give standard raises based on inflation and performance, not all companies work this way. Even the companies that do this may give out minimal raises if the employees don’t ask for what they think they deserve. The annual raise often hovers around 3%, but for some employees, that isn’t enough. If you want a raise based on your performance, you will usually have to ask for it.

You also have to earn it. If your skills are out of date, it might help to refresh them. Consider completing a certification, learning a new language, taking on new projects and learning new skills, and being flexible, which can all help you earn a raise.

Out-of-date skills make you less valuable to your employer, which can decrease the chance of earning a raise. There are many other professional reasons your boss might not be offering the extra cash. One reason may surprise you: your boss might not know you deserve it. Schedule a meeting with your boss to go over your achievements. Your boss will know when you complete specific projects that he or she requested, but may not be aware of all the other work you regularly do, or the initiative you have shown.

2. You might not deserve a raise

Of course, you may not be getting the raise you want because you don’t deserve it. If you are regularly late to work or meetings, you don’t finish projects on time, or you only do your basic job duties and never take initiative, your boss may see no reason to give you a raise.

Your personal behaviors can affect your chances of getting a raise just as much (or more) than your professional ones. If you regularly show a negative attitude and you complain about assignments, your boss has probably noticed. Failing to be a team player will also harm your chances of earning a raise, and so will treating your boss or customers disrespectfully. Gossiping may seem like a harmless way to bond with your coworkers, but it can also be detrimental to your career. According to Chron, office gossip can lower productivity, damage workplace reputations, and make you look untrustworthy, which then lowers your chance of advancement.

3. Economic reasons for not getting a raise

While there are many personal and professional reasons you may not be getting the raise you want, some reasons are out of your hands. If your company isn’t doing well, then you may not be able to get the raise you want right now. According to the Economic Policy Institute, most hourly wages have lagged behind economy-wide productivity, which has caused family income stagnation and inequality. People with college degrees have seen no pay growth in the past 10 years, so it isn’t just low-wage Americans who are being affected.

If your company can’t afford to give you the raise you want, you will have to decide if you want to stay and hope things get better, or if it’s time to find a new job. In the meantime, try to update your skills, and if you have any personal or professional behaviors that are impacting your chance of a raise, try to overcome them and show your boss that you deserve a raise; that way, when the funds become available, you might be first on your boss’s list.

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