By Lina Martinez

The United States seems to have entered a roller coaster of boom and bust periods. A huge bust followed by growth and then bust again as finance firms become over exuberant and make decisions that threaten us all. Of course, the most recent downturn was more violent than its predecessor and the next one is still undetermined. One thing we do know is that the regular American is the person that suffers the most.

Recessions cause stagnation in wages. Even if you are an in-demand professional who doesn’t necessarily worry about losing your job, a recession turns the ability to negotiate wages toward the employer. Years are then spent waiting for the economy to improve and wages to catch up again.

This time wages have stayed stagnant longer into this recovery than any other time before as jobs continue shifting to the low wage service sector. Another downturn is seemingly around the corner and employment will soon be more and more subject to the automation revolution, that is forecasted for the mid 2020’s. Now is the time to set yourself apart and secure a raise.

Even if it means job shopping, the time is now.

The last two month’s unemployment reports have shown some wage growth, which is a true indication of tightening labor supply. January showed yearly wage growth of 2.5 percent but February saw the yearly figure drop to 2.2 percent. While not stellar, there are signs that companies are having to pay more to attract and retain employees. With labor continuing to tighten with a continued unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, wages should continue to finally rise.

So now is the time. If your paycheck hasn’t started to reflect this wage growth yet, it is time to ask or move on.

It can be a very uncomfortable thing to ask for a raise. If you have been seeing record profits at your company, as many companies have shown the last few years, now is a good time to do so. Do a little research and know what the current wage standard is for your position.

Highlight your great performance and that wages in the industry are trending up. If you haven’t been outperforming at your job, you might want to skip the asking part and go straight into the looking part.

When asking for a raise never whine. Do not under any circumstances act underappreciated or overworked. Such an approach is certainly not endearing and calls your boss’ management style into question. No one likes a whiner and you can kiss the possibility of a raise goodbye.

If the result isn’t what you wanted or if your company simply sets a yearly increase structure that isn’t keeping pace with the economy, start shopping. You have skills, you have experience and other companies will be recognizing that finding people like you is getting harder and harder. This shift empowers you to walk in with a much better negotiating position.

Start networking with employees of other companies in your industry. If your buddy works at a company that is attractive to you, ask for the referral. Referrals from established employees carry far more weight and can provide even more negotiating power. While any job search will naturally include use of the Internet, it is the hidden job market that often holds the most promise. Don’t be afraid to connect with recruiters on LinkedIn. Search firms command higher dollars in times of labor tightening and are looking for professionals like yourself as well.

One way or the other, it is time to secure the raise you have been waiting some time to receive. This period might be one of a few chances to have the negotiating power over employers. Take advantage of it.


Lina Martinez has her degree in Journalism and is a contributor to zenruption’s money and life sections. She recently profiled 5 countries to move to if Trump wins and is seriously considering Australia. The zenruption team will buy her several Foster’s Lagers at our next drinking and thinking meeting. We have a feeling she’ll appreciate local micro brews instead.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license