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What millennials can teach you about asking for a raise

More than half of millennials have asked for a raise in the last two years. Have you?
Image: Millennials in office
Nearly 80 percent of the millennials who asked for a raise received one, according to a recent Bank of America report.Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Blend Images - Getty Images

Ask and you shall receive. Millennials are taking this old adage to heart when it comes to workplace pay, and the rest of us should take a lesson from their willingness to step up. Close to half of millennials have asked for a raise in the past two years, according to a recent Bank of America report — significantly more than both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Even more impressive? Nearly 80 percent of the millennials who asked for a raise received one. If you’ve been dragging your feet when it comes to asking for more, here are a few suggestions to propel you forward.

Be more open about salary

Here’s one earning trick that other generations can learn from millennials: Talk about what you earn with trusted friends and colleagues. Almost two-thirds millennials are open about their salary with immediate family, and almost half percent discuss it with friends, according to a study by About one-third even talk salary with coworkers (for reference, that’s three times more than Baby Boomers). We’re not saying you should go trumpeting what you earn to anyone who will listen — it pays to think strategically about what you share and with whom — but opening up about pay with colleagues you trust can help you determine whether or not you’re being compensated fairly and how much your skills are worth on the open market. It’s best to get comfortable with this sooner rather than later, since future raises are often negotiated as a percentage of your current earnings. As for being open about pay with friends and family? It can help you stress less by talking things out and lead to valuable budget advice.

Know your worth

More than half of workers overall don’t negotiate job offers — and for many, it’s because they’re not comfortable asking for more, according to a CareerBuilder survey. If you’re dragging your feet, know that more than half of employers are expecting you to negotiate when they send out that offer letter — so much so that the majority offer a lower salary upfront for wiggle room. So whether you’re evaluating a new job offer or your salary at your current company, pay transparency sites like Glassdoor and PayScale can show you the typical going rate for your particular title in the city you live in for a company the size of yours. Do your research, print out the numbers and get comfortable talking about them via practice conversations with your mirror or people you trust.

Know your numbers — and desired outcome

If you’re putting off the raise conversation at your current company, keep in mind that your work should be measured by concrete results rather than simply time. Some Baby Boomers and even Gen Xers believe in waiting until more money is offered or waiting to ask for a raise until they’ve been in a role for a certain amount of time, but “millennials are more willing to ask for a raise if they have the metrics to back it up,” says Stefanie O’Connell, author of "The Broke and Beautiful Life." After becoming familiar with the job description and the way success is measured, “if we are exceeding those metrics, there’s no limit to what we can ask for,” she says. Start a folder on your computer with accomplishments, concrete metrics and praise from colleagues or clients — that way, you’ll be prepared whenever you need it. And when negotiating, remember it's about money — but not just about money. Think about what matters to you, and aim for that, whether it’s flexibility, work-from-home options or more paid time off. “This generation has really started to redefine how we’re measuring compensation,” O’Connell notes.

With Hayden Field


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