A letter writer’s salary is barely above the minimum wage but she doesn’t want her boss to think she’s shallow.

Luckily, our elder has a three-step plan that’s been proven to work.

Dear EWC

Hello, Let me just begin by saying I love my job. I’ve been working at a theater for almost a year now. I started out as a cashier and quickly moved up to assistant manager. There’s only a few problems. You see, I’m hardly making above minimum wage. I make 25¢ above minimum wage. Some other cashiers make more than what I do. This fact makes me feel bad because, as assistant manager, I’m supposed to be their boss. I also run the building on a day to day basis. I don’t want my employer and boss to think I’m a shallow person who just cares about money. However, as I am 21 years old, I do need more money to be able to afford things such as necessities and insurances(which is not provided by my employer). How can I approach this situation in a professional and polite manner?

William replies

I think you’ve answered your own question by asking it! Asking for a raise is always something most people really don’t want to do. However, from what you have said, you have a good case and I believe most managers would understand. You used the two keywords I was going to suggest, professional and polite. I would just add that you should try to show confidence in your abilities and that you feel you are worth more than your current wage.

Every company exists to make money, so they are not going to offer any employee more just because the idea enters their mind. The employee has to ask and make a reasonable case. Find a time when your boss has a few moments in private. Explain the situation as you described in your letter above. Don’t imply you are thinking of leaving if you don’t get it. Just be clear that you feel you are doing a good job and that you need more to pay the bills, and that you feel you bring value to the company that is above your current pay level.

Experience has shown one technique that’s often successful is to ask for somewhat more than you expect. Minimum wage varies a lot so let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, it’s $10/hr and you are making $10.25/hr. Ask for $15/hr. Your manager will likely think, “That’s way too much” and say no immediately. He or she will likely counter with something like $13/hr, which is probably close to what you wanted in the first place. Obviously, you will need to adjust the numbers to fit your situation, but the psychological method of asking for a lot more than you’re likely to get works in many cases. As a former manager and employee with several organizations, I know this often works.

To summarize: (a) be professional and polite — and confident; (b) don’t imply you’ll leave your job if you get a no, and (c) ask for significantly more than you expect you’ll need. I’m confident you’ll be successful, and I wish you all the best!

Letter #: 425080
Category: Career

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