In my first “real job,” I was hired as a receptionist at an insurance agency. After working at Burger King for two and a half years during high school, I was so excited to get to dress up for work every day and work in an office where I didn’t come home smelling like french fries.
I took that job so seriously and ended up working for the company for eight years, getting a Property & Casualty insurance agent license, and being promoted from receptionist to file clerk to assistant account manager and account manager. During that time, I was also taking evening classes to earn my bachelor’s degree in accounting.
I don’t remember how much I was earning in the beginning, but I think it was somewhere around $8 per hour – which seemed like good money to me since minimum wage in 1995 was $4.25 per hour. But I took it upon myself to take the courses needed to get my insurance license, paid for them out of pocket, and would come in early, work evenings and weekends just to demonstrate my work ethic and make improvements to systems and processes that had been ignored for decades.
The firm did give me a raise after I’d been working there for a year, but I was disappointed to realize that the raise translated into only about $20 extra per month. At 19, I knew I deserved more. So I set up a meeting with my boss and laid out my argument for why he should pay me more. It worked! I got that raise and learned an important lesson about the importance of being your own advocate in the workplace. My boss was awesome, but even the best bosses sometimes overlook or undervalue the people who keep their head down and don’t speak up for themselves.
So when Accounting Principals asked me to write a piece on How to Ask for a Raise, I relished the opportunity. It’s a topic I studied in depth at the age of 19 and many times since.
Give it a read, then let me know in the comments: Have you ever asked for a raise? How did you make your case and what was the outcome?