5 Things Kindergarten Teaches You About Asking for a Raise

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: August 27, 2014

Back to School, Back to Basics

Most kids are either already back at school or starting up again in the next week. My oldest is starting the first grade, and as we say goodbye to summer and hello to a new school year, I’ve been realizing the lessons he learned last year in kindergarten apply directly to the world of salary negotiation.

Sounds crazy, right? But if you really stop and think about it, it’s a lot of basic lessons and common sense. The old saying “all I really need to know I learned in kindergarten” applies to the world of work in many ways, and if you’re looking to get a raise this year it’s worth harkening back to your grade school days for some reminders of how to do things properly.

5. Good Behavior Matters

Teachers, like bosses, are only human. And even though they say they don’t, they both play favorites.

Let’s face it, if you’re the teacher’s pet you’re going to enjoy some added perks. Maybe you’re first to get lunch or you’re the line leader more than most. Sure you still need to do your work and perform well in class, but likability is definitely a skill worth honing in the classroom.

This carries over to the working world too. In a perfect world your boss would judge you only on the results of your work, but we all know that’s not how it goes all the time. We all know coworkers who have gotten raises despite not having our track record of success, mainly because their bosses really like them. And like it or not, that’s part of the game. So while you don’t have to kiss up, at least play nice.

4. Use Your Manners

No one likes the problem child in classroom settings. You know who I mean. The kid who speaks without raising his hand, interrupts the teacher, and never follows directions. If a student is always in trouble, other students who use good manners will be given consideration first.

And so it goes for the office setting.

There are right and wrong ways to ask for a raise. First of all, don’t barge in to your boss’ office, guns blazing, and demand a raise. Time it right (hopefully after a positive quarterly earnings announcement or after a big win), make it fit with your boss’ schedule, and state your case in a polite, clear, and concise manner. There’s no need to beg, but making demands is usually equally ineffective.

3. Make Sure You Earn a Good Report Card

Some people don’t like report cards and testing, but the bottom line is students are stuck with them and so are working adults.

Your progress as a student is measured as soon as you start kindergarten, and all through school. In large part, those grades determine whether you get into honors and advanced placement classes, and ultimately what college you attend. Some people say grades aren’t important, but in reality they determine your future.

Same goes for work. Your written performance reviews play a huge part in whether or not you ultimately get a salary increase. So you have to do your best to make sure your work “report card” is exemplary, so your future earnings can increase.

2. Raise Your Hand

If you want to be noticed, you have to raise your hand and speak up.

If you know the answer in class, raise your hand and speak out. Get involved. Say something. Because if you never speak up or participate in class, you have an increased tendency to fall through the cracks.

The same is true for business. Simply put, it’s pretty difficult to get a raise if you don’t raise your hand and ask for one. Sure, sometimes your boss recognizes you and gives you a raise out of the blue, which is fantastic. But for the most part, you have to do the asking. Because if you don’t advocate for yourself, no one else is going to. So make the decision to ask for more and then do it.

1. Do Your Homework

No one likes to do homework, but it’s necessary.

Last year, in kindergarten, my son had way more homework than I anticipated. He practiced writing letters and numbers and did lots of reading almost every night. But guess what happened? All that practice started to pay off big time, and by the end of the year he was reading books and writing in complete sentences. By preparing himself before school, he was able to excel in the classroom.

Likewise, before you actually ask for the raise you need to be prepared. And in this case, that means research. By visiting Salary.com’s Salary Wizard and entering your job title and location, you’re able to see the median salary for that position. You can also upgrade to an affordable Personal Salary Report for even more information.

And if you’re not feeling confident in the art of negotiation, visit our salary negotiation page and learn some techniques that will improve your chances.

Let Salary.com Help You

Think of work like a classroom, and make sure you're always learning. First and foremost, you need a foundation from which you can negotiate if you're asking for a raise. And Salary.com can help you get paid fairly what you do.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.