Does it really mean much if you negotiated your way up to a .50 per hour raise? A "proper raise" is the one worth celebrating, the one worth holding out for, and (of course) is the toughest to get. Otherwise, semi-raises are used as a means of placating employees and putting off having to deal with a raise request for another year.
If you feel you deserve a raise, you need to plan for the right ask. This is going to take research, practicing your approach and getting ready to prove that you're worth more than you're being given. Asking for a raise is a lot different than being granted one because it was written into your hiring agreement. You're basically telling your employer that they're not treating you fairly and giving them a chance to correct the situation.
Here's your step by step guide to getting the raise you deserve.
1. Know your worth
How does your current salary compare to others in your state with the same job description? You can find this information via the Bureau of Labor Statistics where you'll also find the average experience and academic background. You can argue that you're worth more if you have a more advanced degree, more experience, etc.
2. Understand your company's current hire/fire tendencies
If your company has been laying off workers left and right, especially in your department, you might want to wait for a better time. Sometimes even if you're worth more than your current pay, the economy and industry trends trump it.
3. Timing is everything
Choosing the right time to schedule a meeting with your boss is crucial. You need to consider the stress factors of your boss (Is a big event coming up? Is she going on vacation?), the job security of your department overall, the economy and whether or not you have a recent successful work project to boost you.
4. Take tangible proof
Print out easy to understand information (charts are great) that show average salaries in your industry on both a national and local level. You can leave these with your boss--it helps to see everything in print.
5. Practice, practice, practice
Write down your "speech" and read it out loud multiple times. Ask friends and family for advice, and practice your meeting with them. You don't want your first time to be with your boss. However, don't memorize it and sound like you're reciting a play; this is just your skeleton, not a performance.
6. Ask clearly
This is no time to use a passive voice. Make sure you say, "I deserve a raise," and not "So, I think that maybe, if you agree, I might be due a raise?" Believe in yourself and be confident in yourself. That attitude is transferrable.
7. Come prepared with a figure, but don't give it up easily
Chances are your boss will ask how much of a raise you'd like, but this is likely a trap. They know exactly how much they may or may not offer you. There might even be company policies on how much of a raise an employee can get (check your employee handbook for this). The first figure that's stated, whether by your or your boss, is usually a high or low point for negotiation.
8. Be prepared for your next move
What are you going to do if your boss says no to any kind of raise? If you accept it, no questions asked, you're showing that you were bluffing. Your boss may think you're a pushover from here on out. Either be prepared to quit or get an agreement in writing for a future meeting and any steps your boss wants you to take in order to be eligible for a raise in the future.
9. Get offers in writing
Contrary to popular belief, verbal agreements are nearly useless. If you get a raise, get it in writing immediately.
10. Show thanks
With a raise should come gratitude. Give your boss a genuine thank you and prove that you were worth the extra cash every day.