Do This Instead of Asking for a Cost-of-Living Raise

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With inflation making the cost of just about everything go up—combined with the labor market favoring job seekers—it makes sense that now is the time to ask for a raise. But you should think twice about how exactly you frame your request for more money. Although asking for a cost-of-living raise is completely justified these days, that doesn’t mean it’s the most persuasive argument to make with your boss. Here’s what to consider before you approach your boss requesting an inflation raise.

The downsides of asking for a cost-of-living raise

As we’ve previously covered, a cost-of-living raise is a pay raise that correlates to the rise in the cost of living from year to year. Now more than ever, it’s a perfectly reasonable request—but that doesn’t mean your employer is going to go for it. When you bring up the bigger economic context of record-high inflation, you risk equipping your boss with a compelling counterpoint: It’d be natural for them to turn down your request due the he fact that their costs of running a business also went up.

How to frame your request for a raise

For most, asking for a year-end raise is an easier lift than, say, seeking a full-on promotion. But it’s no secret that many employers aren’t likely to give you a raise unless you ask.

So, rather than bringing up the pains of inflation, your best strategy is to focus on the value you bring to your employer. Your strongest weapons are your personal contributions, rather than the state of the economy.

When it comes to crafting the rest of your request, we go into more detail here. For now, here are the basics:

  • Do market research and think carefully about the number you want to ask for. An average raise is around 2-3% per year.
  • Carefully consider the the likelihood of getting a raise, and what you’ll do if they say no.
  • Ask your boss or HR manager when salary increases are decided at your company (it can be pointless to ask after a payroll budget has been finalized).
  • List out all the proof you have that performance has exceeded expectations, using any metrics specific to your job that can help make your case.

You can also check out this formula if you need help writing a script for your raise request.

The takeaway

In a perfect world, as the cost of living goes up, your paycheck would increase accordingly. Until we achieve that justice, you have to be more strategic with your employer. Asking for a raise based on your performance is almost always going to have better results than outright asking for a raise based on inflation. And with the new year fast-approaching, now is the time to have that pay raise conversation.


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