Surprise! Millennials Aren't Asking For Raises (But Should Be)

by Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

Gen Y has a reputation for being overconfident, but only 37 percent of Millennials have ever asked for a raise, according to PayScale's data, despite the fact that 43 percent of those who asked received the pay increase they were looking for -- a similar rate to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Older workers were also far more likely to ask (48 percent for Baby Boomers, and 45 percent for Gen Xers). Why are Millennials so reluctant to negotiate?

In short, it's because the facts don't necessarily match up with the myth. Millennials might underestimate the time it takes to become truly expert at a skill, or experience a learning curve in terms of coping with the real-life, non-digital workplace, but that doesn't mean that they're brimming with confidence when it comes to asking the boss for more money.

If they don't ask for a raise, Millennials might cost themselves big over time. Experts estimate that not negotiating salary early on can cost as much at $500,000 to $1 million over the course of a lifetime. Millennials, who may feel lucky just to have a job in a rocky economy, need to understand that salary negotiation is key to their career success, and that most recruiters and employers expect it.

Bottom line: it's never a good idea to make your career decisions out of fear, whether it's because you're afraid you'll be perceived as tooting your own horn or because you think that your age puts you at a disadvantage. Salary negotiations, when based on data and your proven track record, are appropriate at any stage of your career.. You're in business, too, and that you have a responsibility to advocate for yourself.

How do you ask for what you're worth without sounding like a stereotypical, self-entitled Millennial? Be gracious, be factual and be specific. Whatever your experience level or age, it's important to do your research ahead of time, to make sure that you have a solid idea of the norms for your industry, job title, experience level, and geographic location.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

About the Author
Jen Hubley Luckwaldt writes about work-life balance, stress management, and other topics relating to what makes us happy at work. A full-time freelancer, she deals with stress by blurring the lines between life and work to the point where the two spheres are barely separate. The happiest day of her career was when scientists proved that looking at pictures of cute animals makes us more productive.