In today’s difficult labor market, unemployment is rampant, but even the “lucky ones” who manage to find new work are not left unscathed. For the first time since the early 1980s, wages for a significant portion of the labor force have fallen swiftly and sharply. According to the Labor Department, between 2007 and 2009, more than half of full-time workers who had lost their jobs and then found new positions reported wage declines. Of these workers, 36 percent reported that their new jobs paid at least 20% less than their previous positions. Moreover, it is likely that those who are currently unemployed and looking for work would be willing to accept lower wages in order to get hired. As a result, economists say that it will take years before the market wages return to their pre-recession levels.
In a difficult wage situation such as this, how does one go about getting a pay raise? The answer lies in being proactive and persistent. Arrange to meet with your boss so that you can discuss the criteria or accomplishments that can make you eligible for a pay raise. Work with your boss to lay out a timeline, with milestones to be reached in order to achieve a pay raise. Many bosses are impressed when employees are proactive regarding their salary, since it shows motivation and a willingness to take on more responsibility. Also, you should do some research on your company’s financial health. If the company is laying people off, your chances of getting a pay raise are slim. In this case, your best bet is to find out what people in your job field are earning, and look for opportunities with other companies.
In this competitive job market, it is important to constantly update your resume, as you will need every advantage in order to succeed. Don’t get discouraged if you find a lack of job openings at first; keep searching and eventually your persistence will be rewarded. At America’s Job Exchange, you will find ‘salary tools’ to find wages by job title and location, a resume builder to polish up your resume, and tons of advice on how to succeed and grow in your current, or new, job.