I’ve been slipping a little in my quest to answer reader questions of late, so I thought I’d course correct. The question revolved around the notion of how to get a raise. Actually, that was the question in its entirety.
How do I get a raise?
A deceptively simple question that one. So much so, in fact, that I’m going to be kind of roundabout in my response.
Paying the Iron Price for Cable
Assuming that you’re one of the millions of people that pay for cable television, you fork over your $100 per month and get the full rainbow of channels. You probably don’t think a whole lot about the $100 that you’re spending each month because it’s the closest a recurring cost can come to being a sunk cost. You’re used to cable and you’re used to your wallet being $100 lighter, so continuing to have cable for $100 per month is not a decision that you consciously make. In fact, to do something different would be the conscious decision.
Bearing this in mind, do you ever think to yourself, “you know, I love how they’ve finally stopped killing off erstwhile protagonists on Game of Thrones, so I think I’ll call the cable company up and offer to pay $103 per month, starting in the next fiscal year?” Of course you don’t — that’s ridiculous.
But, let’s consider a slightly modified version of that scenario. Let’s say that the cable company called you and said, “we’re raising the price of your Premium Thingamajig Package to $103 a month, so if you want to continue to see what Sansa, Arya and the gang are up to, you’re going to have to pay up.” You probably go on to Facebook, post a cathartic rant, and then pay the extra money. Because, while that’s inconvenient, what would be more inconvenient is to have to spend time figuring out how to compensate and vary your routine. You could go with Dish or AT&T or whatever, but that’s probably too much effort to expend over a 3% increase. If it were a 10% or 15% increase, on the other hand, it might be time to comparison shop.
Employment as a Zero Sum Game
As you’ve no doubt surmised, I offered this silly parallel to help you empathize with your employer’s position. You’re the cable company in their lives — non-critical, largely taken for granted, and prominent enough to be missed as long as the price isn’t too high. And, like your relationship with your cable company, your relationship with your employer is, talk of family and work-life balance notwithstanding, a zero sum game. The more money you have, the less they have, and vice-versa.