I Want A Pay Raise! Safe vs Extreme Ways To Get A Salary Hike

by Millie Kay G. on 2011-09-025

While many businesses across the nation are hesitant to give salary increases this year, there’s still a chance for some workers out there to receive fatter paychecks. What are some ideas you can try in order to secure a higher salary? There are some ways to do it creatively. Some people have tried some extreme approaches. I’d love to discuss a few out of the box ideas to negotiate a pay raise. Be careful though — what can work for some employers may backfire for others, especially if the approach is rather hostile.

The Standard Advice For Getting A Pay Raise

Of course, most advice on asking for a pay raise is pretty apparent. For instance, most people think it’s a good idea to approach a supervisor when the company is doing well. This makes total sense as it’s the same thing when you’re trying to communicate with an obstinate spouse. Bring a “tough” subject up when the timing is good, and you’ll get a better shot at getting what you want. You want things to be “win-win” here. By contrast, if the company stock suddenly does a $700 swan dive, save your talk until the following month or decade.


Another piece of standard advice: update your resume with any new skills you’ve learned at your job. Something like “outsourced the entire company phone tree to a central location in Eurasia” sounds terrific. “Perfected my fantasy football team roster in just three tries” may not be so relevant. Don’t discuss the number of YouTube videos you’ve watched since the quarter began, though. But what’s better is that you keep learning new skills so that your performance will support your request for a raise or promotion.

Don’t be shy about what you’ve accomplished for your department or company. For instance, you could mention the range of clients you’ve brought into the company. Clients who spend thousands or millions a year on your products are prime. However, if you’re in retail, you don’t need to bring up the squadron of power walkers who only come in to use the bathroom.

During the negotiation itself, be aware of your body language and try to sound calm. Leave the pepper spray in your desk!

Extreme Ways To Get A Pay Hike

Now be honest. Have you thought of some extreme ways to push yourself forward at work? Sometimes, I’m surprised by what some employees (or even company leaders) have done to propel themselves forward. I’m sure you’ve heard of a CEO or two who got paid millions while his company fell apart. So what about sharing some “creative” ideas that are far from safe? Besides, who got ahead by playing it safe? ;-)

Here are some extreme ideas that some people may have done to try to get a raise. We all question their ethicality, but given how toxic some work places have become, I wouldn’t be surprised if these have worked in certain industries or for some overly ambitious types. How many of you know colleagues who have tried pulling stunts like these and still won? Does crossing the line actually pay? Disclaimer: Of course, please don’t take this seriously at all!

#1 Sabotage! Step on Your Coworkers

  1. Blame coworkers for mishaps with the larger pieces of office equipment. Later, heroically “fix” the machines when your supervisor needs to use them.
  2. Discover who exactly has been using up all the paper towels in the break room, then save the company thousands with mandatory bibs.
  3. Follow the HR staff to their hair appointments, then befriend and get to know the hairdressers afterward. Get the scoop about their personal lives, then use the information to your advantage. But be careful about flinging any of the dirt around.
  4. Tell the office bully that your cubicle mate has been making off-color comments about his mom, then make sure the boss sees you breaking up the fight.
  5. Encourage office rivals to engage in financially dubious behavior, then pounce on their clients when the lawsuits start flying.
  6. Get hold of the budget for next year and eliminate the lines for the IT department and the cleaning staff so there’s room for your raise. Be ready to multitask as needed, though.

#2 Elicit Sympathy. Exploit Loved Ones, Real or Imagined

A lot of people in the workforce are motivated to stay in the rat race because of their families. So why not put your family to work?

  • Bring some children (your own or borrowed) to work; have them ask anyone with food on their desks “Are you going to eat that?” — especially when the executive director is gobbling expensive takeout.
  • Display the most heartrending family photos you own or Google them. Tell the boss that they won’t make it without premium organic linens and a TV the size of Brooklyn.
  • Have your Twitter followers and Facebook friends start a virtual hunger strike until you’re appropriately compensated. Send each update to your supervisor’s mobile phone. Request that older relatives put on their dentures if they send pictures.

#3 Go Above and Beyond

Most employers prefer to reward workers who stand out. That can be due to superior job performance or one of these “extraordinary” actions:

  • Volunteer to start the company’s latest multinational branch–preferably in a happening place like Dubai and not Siberia in the winter.
  • “Accidentally” forward cleverly Photoshopped pictures of your immediate supervisors to your company’s president, then volunteer to climb up the ladder in the bloody aftermath.
  • Spearhead the office effort to raise a tremendous amount of money for charity, then guilt trip the boss into giving you a raise.
  • Save the company thousands on printer ink and laptops by borrowing them from gullible office managers in nearby buildings.
  • Fling yourself into an interpretative dance that discloses how much you appreciate the skills you’ve acquired during your time with the company. If you’re awful at it, the head honcho will probably pay you a reckless amount to throw out your tap shoes.
  • Emulate what the programmers at some gaming companies supposedly do: sleep under your desk and subsist on a diet of takeout and lint. After several weeks, the boss will give you that raise and throw in a hefty bonus for you to go away and bathe.
  • Pretend that you can no longer hear the word “no” if the boss tries to turn you down, then make a wild grab for the paperwork and mark it “raise approved” in bold ink.

Sure, you can meekly ask for a raise and hope for the best. However, injecting a dose of “creativity” into your raise negotiation can make you harder to resist. Keep this in mind the next time you go on the hunt for more money.

P.S.: If you’re self-employed and need more money: good luck with those negotiations!

Created March 17, 2010. Updated September 2, 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents September 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I would go with #3. It is the best choice for most people to make yourself valuable to your employer. I would also keep a file of accomplishments during the year to pull out when you ask for the raise.

SarahB September 3, 2011 at 6:49 am

There are a lot of good suggestions here, but I have noticed with this article and others about raising your pay never mention that some companies and organizations do not give bosses any say in when or how much employees get raises. In my entire career I have never worked anywhere where you can just ask for a raise and have any chance of receiving it. At the private companies I’ve worked for raises standards were set company wide and were only given based on approved number by someone 3 or 4 tiers higher than the immediate supervisors and could only be granted on anniversaries. When I worked in the public sector, the governing body set all raises, same goes for the NPO I work for now.

Silicon Valley Blogger September 3, 2011 at 9:12 am

@Krantcents — I let my performance and skills speak for themselves, yes. Being proactive about this kind of thing may have the opposite effect (and aggravate the boss), so I’d tread carefully.

@SarahB — I agree that it’s virtually impossible to be granted advancements at certain companies. But if you’ve worked hard and received great performance reviews for a long-ish period of time without any hint of a change in your future, then it may be good to point this out to a supervisor on your next evaluation (if you want to play it safe). If you do get a raise or promotion, you’ll have to make sure you live up to those expectations as well, as it can be a double-edged sword. If you make noise and you don’t live up to it, you’ll look bad, disappoint the bosses and perhaps even mark you as a target for a reorganization later.

Kevin@OutOfYourRut September 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm

It’s getting harder to get a raise these days, especially with so many people competing for limited jobs. The best/most effective way to get a raise in my opinion is to get an offer letter from a competitor at a higher salary. Some companies won’t give you a raise with anything less.

As effective as it is, it has risks. You have to be prepared that your employer will refuse to match. Then you may have to take the new job. If your employer doesn’t raise you, and you don’t take the offer, your career will probably come to a standstill. I’ve done it successfully a few times and recommend it, but each time I was ready to take a jump if it needed to be.

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