'It's no surprise' pay isn't keeping up with inflation, says former Amazon recruiter: How to ask for more money

"We really think that we're doing good by our people when we give them, like, 1% to 2%."


Inflation is rising at record rates. It jumped 7% from December 2020 to December 2021, according to the Labor Department. Salaries, though rising, are not keeping up: More than half, 58%, of people who received a raise in 2021 report that it was 5% or less, according to a Q4 2021 Joblist survey of 2,783 job seekers.

"It's no surprise that we're not keeping up with inflation, because we never have," says Lindsay Mustain, a career coach and former Amazon recruiter. "We really think that we're doing good by our people when we give them, like, 1% to 2%."

If you're thinking of asking for a raise, the rate of inflation could come into play. Here's what to keep in mind.

'Focus your conversation on the value you bring'

When you're sitting down to talk with your boss, you could open the conversation by saying something like, "The rate of inflation is increasing dramatically, and I'd like to talk to you about my existing salary and how we're making sure that it stays equitable to compete in the current inflation rate," says Mustain.

Or you could bring up the inflation rate later in the conversation as a way to boost your argument for higher compensation. Whenever you decide to mention it, remember that the most important argument in the conversation is your performance.

"Focus your conversation on the value you bring because that's ultimately what is going to" convince your employer to give you that pay increase, says Angelina Darrisaw, a career coach and founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach.

Think about the parameters of your job and the goals your boss set for you and outline how you've met or exceeded them. Say you're in sales and your monthly goal is to make 30 sales. If you've consistently made 35, highlight that.

Beyond any other points you might make, proof that you've excelled at your job is what's going to convince the higher ups that "this is a valuable employee that is driving a lot to the success of my business. I don't want to lose that person," says Darrisaw.  

Start 'taking on other interviews'

Even if you make the point that you've driven up revenue or succeeded in your role, and even if you bring up inflation, your boss might still decline to give you a raise. Nearly half, 47%, of workers did not receive a pay bump in 2021, according to Joblist.

Before you go in to talk to your boss, start looking at what other jobs are out there.

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Video by Mariam Abdallah

"Ultimately, the best way to understand your value in the marketplace is through taking on other interviews" and looking at what similar jobs pay on sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed, says Darrisaw. That kind of research can inform your ask and give more concrete evidence of what the market is paying for your skill set.

When it comes to the interviews, specifically, you don't necessarily want to mention to your boss that you're taking them on or have another offer "because it's kind of like holding somebody hostage," says Mustain. But these can both give you context for whether or not your company is compensating you fairly and open up other opportunities down the line.

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