I hate the term performance review. Because that implies that there's going to be a constructive conversation about what you did well this year and what could have been done just a tad better.
That's mostly bullshit though. Performance review time is How Big Is My Raise Going To Be time. You know it and companies know it.
All they want to know is:
"How much more do I have to pay to keep this little punk to sit at his desk for another year."
And all you want to know is:
"What's the chance of precipitation today because you need to make it rain!"
Anyone in HR reading this should be terrified.
People think that the best way to get a raise is to be great at what they do. And they are simply wrong.
The Most Important Thing Is Asking
In my experience, everyone gets a token 3 or 4% raise, even if they fall asleep at their desk and take 2 hour lunches every day. And if you don't speak up for yourself, then that's all you're going to get too.
And you know what? Even though you're right to be offended by this heinous injustice, you deserve it. Why should a company give you more money if you don't ask them for it?
I don't know many companies that want to pay more for employees (although surprisingly there are a few).
News Flash: Companies Need People
I don't know many companies that aren't desperate to find and retain good people.
Translation: If you ask for a larger raise, they will most likely pay it or at least negotiate with you.
Companies expect this. They are prepared for this. If you feel guilty about asking for more money, then don't.
Do you think companies feel guilty about the money that's being sprayed into their vault via a fire hose every day?
What world are you living in? Why do people feel so bad about making money?
Do you work hard at your job? Great then it should be easy to convince you.
There are people right now doing a rather shitty job at work. And some of them make more money than you because they speak up and you don't.
And it's not really the company's fault.
It's hard for companies to know if an employee is doing a good job unless they are really terrible or really excellent. Even then there are plenty of factors that can confuse the issue.
If you're a high performer there are those that know this and will do everything they can to lower your reputation. They will point out every single one of your screw ups and ignore your successes. They will call into question the quality of your work and make others doubt it.
Machiavelli would be happy to see that The Prince is more relevant today than ever.
On the other hand, if an employee sucks, it's only logical that the reason they remain employed is because they've gotten good at covering their tracks.
So to get a raise, the most important thing is to ask for a raise or if they are offering you a small raise them to ask for a much larger raise.
This is actually more important than doing a good job, for the same reasons I listed above.
Money's Not The Only Thing
The second most important thing is to do a great job. Obviously the better you are, the more likely companies are to pay you much more than the standard.
There's obviously a moral component in wanting to do a great job regardless of compensation. I personally believe in this strongly. But for this conversation it's irrelevant.
Let me re-iterate: if you do a good job and don't negotiate then all your hard work for the year is wasted. A year! Wasted!
Be Willing To Walk
The third thing to know about asking for a raise is an internal matter. If they don't give you what you want or at least compromise, then you need to be willing to leave the company.
You don't want to verbalize this intention though. Saying,
"Give me a raise or I'm going to work somewhere that I'm more appreciated,"
May not exactly be viewed with the same noble dignity that you envisioned in your head...
But this is a mindset that you need to have going in.
I've read before that smiling while talking on the phone will make the listener perceive you as more friendly.
If you're willing to leave the company if you don't get your raise and you know this going in, then they are likely to pick up on it, if only at a subconscious level. The odds of them agreeing to a raise increases.
And then if they don't give you what you want then start interviewing. Make it clear what your compensation must be to move. If you wanted a 10% raise at your old job, then ask for 25% more in your interviews. And stick to your guns.
Life's too short to be shoved in a box. By asking for a bigger raise, you're drastically increasing your chances of getting one.
But if a company says no, then your chances just went back down to 0%. By interviewing with a vengeance, you're drastically increasing your chances again.
In fact, if you follow my advice, I do like your odds.