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Ask Joanna

Asking for a raise

Some simple do’s and don’ts

Dear Joanna:
I’ve been working as a lot attendant at a local grocery store for five years. I’m a person with developmental disabilities so it took me a long time and lots of support from job coaches to finally land and keep this job. I feel lucky to be employed but I’d like more responsibilities and more money. I have proven myself several times to my boss that I am competent, loyal, work overtime, and go beyond the call of duty to get my job done! He has given me feedback that I am doing a good job. How do I ask for a raise and a promotion without losing my job?
Signed: Fear of the Ask (FOA)

Dear FOA:
Here’s what our team recommends but we suggest discussing these suggestions with your job coach before taking action! 

1) Ask for a performance review. If you had one already, find out when the next one is so you can PREPARE and PRACTICE a script of what to say with your coach or ask for 15 minutes of your boss’ time for a meeting to discuss a performance review. Acknowledge that you know he is busy and that you respect this. Some companies have a special form. Start by telling the boss how much you love your job, love working for him/her and appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow.

2) Ask in person. This task is not for emails or texts. Schedule a time to meet. Never tell your hiring manager that you want more money or that you need to support your standard of living. Your salary should only be reflective of your job performance.

3) List your accomplishments over the year. Promote yourself. Don’t be shy. Be prepared to talk about your value to the organization, Are you helping to promote the store’s image by servicing them well? Are you helping the team with unpacking, sorting and shelving the inventory? Be specific about how your work, in addition to your lot attendant duties, is helping the store retain and grow its customer base.

4) Research salaries for your role. Visit and With the support of your job coach from Reena, consider asking your coworkers whom you like and trust regarding a reasonable salary. The salary you ask for does play a role in the way your boss views you, and you don’t want to put any tension in your relationship.

5) Be open to the feedback. Nothing happens quickly. If you don’t get the promotion or raise you want, don’t quit. Learn from it by finding out and preparing a list of what you need to do to improve. Prepare a list, with your manager, of areas to improve. Ask the manager for a meeting in one month to review this “improvement list”. Schedule a 20-minute meeting in advance. Don’t give up. Remember, this is a discussion in progress!

6) Look for better job opportunities. Regardless of the boss’ response, continue to research other stores and/or companies that you would be interested in moving to for a better job opportunity. Get a sense of the competition out there—who is hiring and how much they are paying. Continue to network. Don’t let this situation be an obstacle in looking after your career.

7) Advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid or intimidated. You have a right to ask for help and ask for a chance to speak to your manager about your career path. 

Joanna Samuels, MEd, is an adult educator with an expertise in career/job coaching and community/business partnership building.

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