6 Steps to Take Before Asking For a Pay Raise

negotiation occupational therapist occupational therapy pay raise personal finance
6 Steps to Take Before Asking for a Pay Raise

Remember a few weeks ago we spent time talking about negotiation? Well, if you missed that series I highly suggest you go back and catch up because to be honest, negotiating and asking for a pay raise isn’t all that different. 

And before I move on any further, yes, I highly recommend doing both…even if you’re a new graduate fresh outta school. 

I encourage asking for a raise for the sheer fact that life is expensive and it’s only going to keep getting more and more expensive. The value of the dollar continues to decrease - while the cost of living continues to increase. It’s incredibly hard to keep up with inflation on our backs so at some point your salary will NOT stretch as far as it once did aka when you were hired.

I’m speaking from experience here. My income (admittedly on the higher side) does not stretch as far as it did back in 2019. I mean, has anyone else noticed groceries have been way more expensive lately!? 

Anyways, let’s talk through six steps you need to take BEFORE you run to your boss to ask for a pay raise so that you can increase your chances of success!

  1. Know your why. I feel like this phrase seriously applies to everything! Okay first things first, you’ve gotta do some reflection here. I want you to think about why you want (or need) a raise in the first place? What is your basis for asking for a pay raise? Is it because you found out a coworker is making more than you? Is it because you can’t cover your bills? Is it because you’ve been at the company for 3+ years and feel it’s time to be compensated more? 

  2. Have justification. Once you know your “why” you’ve gotta be able to justify it. How are you planning to justify requesting a pay increase? Why is this raise actually warranted? Again, these are just questions to get your wheels turning because the answers to these questions will be exactly how you present your case. 

  3. Do your research. You’re going to go through the exact same process I recommended in preparing to negotiate. You have to determine what is the “market value” for the services that you perform. This is especially important if you did not negotiate your current job offer and just accepted what was offered. If this is the case, don’t beat yourself up - you didn’t know. You’ll need to think about what are providers in your same state/city/setting and with your experience level currently earning? If you are earning significantly less, you can use this to justify asking for a raise based on a market adjustment. A market adjustment raise is an increase in your income so that your pay matches the market pay for your position. For example if everyone else around you is earning $36-$38 per hour (market) and you’re being paid $30 an hour (under market) you can use this to justify requesting a raise so that you’re being paid market value. 

  4. Evaluate what’s changed. Spend time thinking about what has happened between now and when you were first hired. I think it’s safe to say you’ve probably gained some new skills, gotten more experience in a particular area. Have your job responsibilities increased? Are you doing more work than you were originally hired for? Have you taken more CEUs and thus increased your knowledge base? Have you earned any new certifications? Taken on new roles within the company? All of these are areas you can use when you’re ready to request a raise.

  5. Reflect on your performance. Remember a huge part of justifying asking for more money, whether it’s during a negotiation or raise, you want to highlight how you have brought value to the company. What have you done specifically that has brought in new clients or kept clients coming back? Have you been meeting or even exceeding productivity? Have you been training new providers? How are you directly helping the company to bring in more money OR not to lose money? Be sure to keep track of valuable contributions to the company, accomplishments and accolades, positive feedback from staff, colleagues and clients, etc. so that you’re prepared when it’s time to ask for your raise. This is also helpful if you are asking for a performance based raise vs a market adjustment raise.

  6. Go on interviews. Again, this is something I highly recommend when negotiating and I believe it’s absolutely okay to do in this case as well. Apply to other positions and when you get a job offer (and you will get a job offer because you’re amazing!!) use that new offer to justify asking for a raise at your current position. This shows that you are 1) a highly desirable employee and 2) gives you concrete numbers to show to your company. I don’t recommend doing the “ultimatum” approach which means asking your company to match it or walk away UNLESS you are actually prepared to walk away - something else I teach for negotiation. This is why knowing your why is important. When you know your why, you know what you can and cannot accept. Remember that it’s okay to actually walk away from a job even if it’s your first year or two out of school. I don’t believe in the whole “it’s bad to job hop” sentiment. You don’t have to stay stuck in a position that isn’t good for you mentally, emotionally, physically or financially. See what else is out there for you and go where you need to go to make what you want to make. 

Once you’ve done all of these steps, you’re ready to present your case. Remember to create a script and make a few notes so you aren’t fumbling over your words. A great time to do this is during an annual performance review. Although you may have this conversation in person, remember to still get everything in writing. You can send a follow up thanking your employer for their time and recapping the points you made during the meeting. Oh, and always remember to ask for more than you want. You may have to negotiate a little here too and you want to make sure you land in a comfortable spot…so aim a bit higher. 

You all know in my little corner of the ‘net I believe in keeping it all the way real, especially when it comes to factors impacting our pockets. The more I learn about how companies operate, the less scared I feel when it comes to making sure I’m getting paid appropriately. Why? Because they certainly are and I can’t blame them.

Healthcare is a business and businesses want to be sustainable and profitable, I mean that’s no secret. So what does this mean? This means that the business will pay you the amount they need to pay you to keep you coming back everyday. Now, what that amount is, is entirely up to you and what you accept. 

The company may be great but they aren’t going to be jumping at the opportunity to take more money out of their pockets to put it in yours - unless you ask. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing hospitals, clinics, outpatient centers, private practices etc. As someone who very much has a business mindset, I 1000% get it. 

Now with that being said - my mission isn’t to keep as much money in those businesses pockets, it’s to ensure that YOU, my fellow therapy colleagues are maximizing your income potential so that you can tackle your financial goals and create a life you love. That’s my mission, friends. 

So go out there and ask for what you want. Be picky. Be confident. Be bold. Be courageous. 

For more Pay Raise posts please check out the following posts from my Instagram: