What Is The Right Way To Ask For a Raise?

I regret that for many years I was underpaid and I have only myself to blame.  I was too chicken to ask for a raise.  Since being in the printing industry for 23 years I have gained a little more self confidence and knowledge about what a pressman is worth.  So I would like to share with you a few tips that I’ve used over the years to get a raise.  If you’re one of the few that just work in the printing industry because you absolutely love printing, my hat goes off to you.  However, money is the main driving force in this industry.  So let’s talk dollars and cents.  What is the right way to ask for a raise in the offset printing industry.

  1. Know your worth.  Each state, even each city puts an individual value on press operators.  Find out what others make who perform the same task.  For example, if you are a four color sheetfed operator, don’t compare yourself with a newspaper web pressman.  Sheetfed and web pressmen get paid differently.  Find out what others get paid on the same equipment, even within your own company.  Or look on the web at sites like payscale.com or indeed.ca.
  2. Have a reason to ask.  Are you a 2nd pressman that has recently become a head pressman?  Do you have any type of increased responsibility?  Are you doing more in management.  Give your boss a good reason why you deserve it.
  3. Pick the right time.  Pick a day when the press has been running well and you are ahead of schedule.  Also, pick the time of year when doing overtime.  This is a time when you are very valuable to the company.
  4. Use different negotiating tools.  Money isn’t the only thing you can ask for.  A typical response is, “We can’t afford it right now.”  Fine.  Ask for another week of holidays.  It can be done.  I’ve seen it many times.  If he says he can’t help you, ask what you can do in the future to qualify for an increase.  This will give you ammo for the next time.
  5. Ask for an appointment.  This shows you are serious.  If you ask your boss when he happens to be walking by the press, you are catching him at the wrong time.  Show him you are serious and he will take you more seriously.
Now, here are a couple of mistakes I have made.  Do not do the following:

  1. Threaten to quit if you don’t get the raise.  Your boss may take you up on the offer.  This is a bad idea, unless of course you hate your job and don’t need the money.
  2. Tell him you have a better offer.  This may put you in a good position, but no boss likes to be held hostage.  This may work, but puts you in an awkward position afterward.  Also, be prepared to fail if he doesn’t meet your demand.
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