The Nigerian labor market has never been as saturated with employable specialists as it is now. With the feverish rise in the attainment of educational qualifications, a number of Nigerian graduates are either qualified or over-qualified for some white-collar jobs along with its attendant perks and benefits. Unfortunately, the unemployment situation has put a dent in the lofty dreams of Nigerian youths. According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 23.1% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The effect is that the employed individual maintains a desperate hold on his job. It is easy to perceive how this consequently leads to the exploitation of workers by individual employers and corporate institutions. Faced with this reality, the Nigerian employee in the private sector endures the most appalling conditions of service and remains unassertive until he resigns, is fired or dies.

The idea of actively seeking a raise is almost alien to the Nigerian employee, so if you are seeking one you must be able to convince your employer that you deserve it. Here’s how:

Have a professional disposition to work
One flaw of the Nigerian employee is his desire to be excessively familiar with everyone. This attitude breeds unprofessionalism and eventual contempt. A professional attitude is positive because it prompts a holistic focus on the designated assignment to the exclusion of other distraction. Wasilu Suleiman put it succinctly when he said: ….positive attitude at work is supposed to be the bedrock of higher performance in established settings. It is an investment that can be used to achieve higher profit, good reputation, and performance of organizational goals…

It is important to remember that your boss is not your friend and neither are your colleagues, clients or subordinates. The first priority is to have an amicable relationship with them. If friendship happens along the way, it should never get in the way of your professional responsibilities to each other and the organization. An employee with a professional attitude is more likely to get things done and earn the respect of his employers and colleagues. The rarity of this quality will make him a prime candidate to be considered for a raise.

Be exceptional
Being exceptional traverses every aspect of your professional life. It means doing things beyond the norm or the expected. It means attaining a standard of work that is beyond average and better than the regular Joe. It might mean being punctual for meetings at all times, submitting a project as at when due, making effective contributions to group tasks and responsibilities, producing high-quality work and taking the initiative where necessary. Being exceptional means showing consistent growth and improvement on the job. We can all agree that the employee who does regular things in a regular way does not deserve a raise.

Be visible
If you want to get that raise, you must not only consistently add value to the company but be seen to be doing so by persons who matter. Your boss must be aware of what you do and how well you do it. Visibility is not a hypocritical, aggressive manoeuver of the spotlight as we are quick to assume, but an awareness of the existence of a spotlight and strategically placing yourself at the place where it shines brightest.

If you are not visible at work, chances are you have already been overlooked for a raise. Here are steps on how you may become more visible.
. Develop good relationships with your boss and colleagues.
. Speak up more. No one will know the content you carry if you don’t.
. Participate in group activities.
. Showcase your expertise.
. Network. Be deliberate about reaching people who can help you attain your professional goals.

In your quest for a raise, remember that the opinion of your boss regarding your work matters and you are the best person to show him your worth.

Ask for it
Asking for a raise may seem like a great risk. It is. However, there are many instances where you might never get what you want or deserve unless you take that leap of faith. Asking for a raise has its advantages. It brings your work to the limelight and shows your boss that you have been an active contributor to the growth of the company. It also boosts your confidence in your abilities. A healthy dose of negotiation skills will be needed in the conversation that will ensue between you and your boss on the subject. First, perform preliminary research on the salary range obtainable in your industry. Get clarification that your company can afford the sum.

Secondly, pay attention to timing. It is always better to seek clarification on the salary and raise the structure of the company prior to accepting the employment offer. However, at the employee stage, any negotiation raises should be done at the time when the boss is less busy and undisturbed. Depending o his schedule, this can happen very early in the day or soon after closing hours.

Third, have documentation of proof on hand so you can be prepared for any question you might be asked. Fourth, have a copy of the rules and policies guiding the organization so you will not be blindsided by the simple reason that such a move will be contrary to company policy. Be absolutely prepared.

In summary, the general principle of professional advancement is that effort pays. Combine effort with visibility and the ability to ask for payment proportionate to the level of service you render and the sky is the limit regardless of the limitations of the Nigerian labor market.

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