The economy has been giving us lots of mixed signals lately, driving fears we’re heading toward a recession.

Case in point: While gross domestic product in the U.S. fell again for the second quarter in a row (one of the key indicators of a looming recession), and layoffs and hiring freezes continue to make headlines, the July job reports blew past expectations, showing a surge of over half a million new jobs.

As a career coach with dozens of clients across the U.S. in varied sectors, I basically get a front row seat to the madness.

Just last week, I heard from a coaching client who was laid off from her recruiting job after less than 90 days in the role and from two other clients who celebrated successful bids for raises and a lucrative new job offer.

In this mixed bag labor market, follow these tips to make a case for asking for a raise.

Understand demand in your field

If labor demand is still strong in your sector, chances are your employer will be more willing to entertain a raise. A good indicator of demand is how many job openings are currently listed.

Jobs website has been tracking job openings since the onset of the pandemic and offers a handy tool you can use to see how job openings have increased by various sectors month after month. Overall, job openings are still up more than 50% since 2020, but some sectors are definitely cooling off. For example, the increase of human resource job openings fell from a high of 120% in March to 83% in July.

Don’t use inflation as an excuse

Asking for a raise simply just because inflation is higher than ever isn’t likely to go over well. Employers don’t really base wage increases off the cost of living anyway — they base it off the cost of labor.

Bring the data

Data is crucial when arguing for a raise. Come to the table prepared with a bullet point list that shows cold, hard evidence that you have an outsize impact on the team’s success or that your duties have increased substantially — or both.

For example, share how many additional hours you’ve worked to complete projects, how much revenue you’ve driven, or how many new clients you’ve worked with. Calculate the change over time (“client work increased 20% since 2021,” for example). Write out a side-by-side list of your duties beginning last year and a list of them today to show visual evidence that your workload has increased substantially. It doesn’t have to be fancy — a word document with bullet points or a basic powerpoint presentation can work here.

Don’t wait till your annual review to make your case

Oftentimes managers make their cases for promotions and raises in the fourth quarter before the new year. If you make your case early, it ensures your manager has time to go through the proper channels.

A competing job offer can give you powerful leverage

You’re far likelier to get a raise if the company thinks they might lose you. In a recent survey by HR consulting firm Mercer, 60% of companies surveyed reported an increase in the number of counter-offers candidates are receiving, and about 30% said they are beating or matching counter-offers. Another 41% said they are using retention bonuses to entice workers to stay.

Stay open to new opportunities

Take job interviews even if you’re not sure you are looking to leave. It can help you understand your current market value and use that intel to decide how much of a raise you’re seeking.

Mandi Woodruff is an inclusive wealth-building and career expert, cohost of the Brown Ambition Podcast and founder of the MandiMoney Makers community.

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