College Connect: Realizing Your Right to a Raise

By Adrianna Talavera

When I was in high school, I worked as a hostess at the same Mexican restaurant for three years. I knew the ins and outs of the restaurant and I could do the job with my eyes closed. With all the experience I acquired there, I was one of few hosts that was capable of keeping the wait short and the hungry customers happy, even during the busiest of Saturday night rushes.

However, at the end of my second year, I was still making the same amount of money per hour as the little 16-year-olds who were just starting out: $7.25. Despite being called in on my days off, working holidays, and frequently staying past close on school nights, I was still only earning the minimum wage in the state of Kansas.

For so long, this didn’t even register as a problem in my eyes. I figured that because I was only 17 and it just was a part-time job, that minimum wage was fine. I have assumed all the hosts made as much as me, as our pay wasn’t something that regularly came up in conversation. It wasn’t until I found out how much my male coworkers were making that I was suddenly dissatisfied with my wages. Guys who did the same thing at work as I were making several dollars more—some of whom had started working there after me.

I asked my manager about it and he said a bunch of my male coworkers had talked to him in his office about raising their hourly wages months before me. Previously to this revelation, it had never even occurred to me that I could ask for more money. He went ahead and raised my wage to that of my other coworkers. Had I never asked though, I probably would have continued to make less than my male coworkers.

According to an article from NPR, “research shows men are four times more likely than women to ask for a salary raise.”

This trend was incredibly prevalent where I was working. My manager was friendly and approachable, but even still the task of requesting a raise was daunting. For me personally, the idea of asking for more money was intimidating.

Flynn Heath Holt Leadership partner Diana Faison offers tips for effectively asking for a pay raise in an article from Harvard Business Review. While work environments may vary, her advice can be altered slightly to accommodate different occupations.

First, Faison suggests diligently preparing by gathering two types of factual evidence to support your request: your own personal contributions as well as company information.

“If you don’t prepare, you don’t know what you’re really asking for,” Faison said.

Some resources that are listed in the article to help you gauge your worth in your workplace include your human resources department and sites like PayScale and GlassDoor.

In the same article, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School Kathleen McGinn says next, once you have built a case for why you deserve a raise, says you must determine the appropriate time to ask.

“Time your request to coincide with changes in your own tasks,” McGinn said. “If you’ve just created a whole bunch of value for your company, it’s a great time to say, ‘Can we share that value?’”

Lastly, confidence is a key part of establishing that you’re work is worth higher payn according to Faison.

“As you make your case, always strive for a tone of mutual respect,” Faison said. “I call it the Three C’s. You’ve got to be calm, and conversational, and to establish an air of collaboration.”

Adrianna Talavera is a junior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.




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