After college, I got a job in my field for $5 an hour. Yes, that’s a 5, not a 15. Although I did live at home, my father had already passed away, and my mom was working part-time. I was responsible for my own food, car insurance, gas, clothing. Oh, and my cigarettes. Yes, I smoked back then; I have since quit, and you can read how I did it here.
Money was tight, obviously. I approached my manager and told him that I needed more money. He agreed that I deserved it; I had worked hard and was making a pittance. He advised going to the Finance Manager, which I did, and he told me to go to the “Big boss”.
I was 20-something at the time, still shy and insecure, but desperation is quite a conduit. I made an appointment. When the time arrived, I went into the big office, a room larger than my living room at home. The Big Boss shook my hand and invited me to sit down.
“I need more money,” I blurted out, my voice cracking. I was afraid I would get fired. “I have a lot of bills. I don’t have a father, and I don’t have a husband, and I need more money.”
“How much do you need?”
“Twenty, uh, twenty-five dollars a week,” I blurted out.
“Well, thanks for coming to talk to me.”
I turned and left, my whole body shaking. What if I got fired instead of a raise? I went back to my desk, kept my head down, and continued working.
A week later, I was told that my raise had been granted! Twenty five dollars s week. As I think of it now, that’s not even a dollar an hour, and that was a pittance to the “big boss.” But from where I was, it was a huge relief.
And I didn’t get fired.
As I got older and wiser, and of course less shy, I honed my raise-asking skills. I know that I am not going to be fired, that I am a valuable employee, and I list my accomplishments in my job and not my need. I explain my worth to the company.
I had to start somewhere. There’s a cliche’ that goes: “Better imperfect action than perfect inaction. “
These days we can Google “how to ask for a raise” and get advice. I had to go in there with nothing but my desperation.