Insight article

Engineering Your Next Pay Raise

Reality Check

Raises aren’t just handed out to make employees happy like Christmas gifts. They’re given out for a single reason: to retain employees who add significant value to the organization. Your boss is your “representative in congress” … So how can you get them to fight for you?

Does your boss like you?

Take a look at your most recent review. Some will say that their boss is nitpicking, looking for an excuse to be stingy. Think about this logically. There is obviously a reason your boss is not encouraging you to stick around. Aside from being valuable it’s equally important to be likable.  Start with small ego strokes. Meet with them and announce your desire to demonstrate success on all listed areas of improvement. Present them with a plan and get on the same page about what would be considered improvement. Propose to meet regularly until they feel you met their expectations. Even if your relationship has been rocky thus far, you will see that with enough patience on your end your boss will decide in due time, that they “turned you around” and molded you into a model employee.

Be valuable!

The first step is to consider your contributions and measure them based on the value it adds to the overall efforts of your team. Yes! Always try to be the key player with the most critical tasks. Now, think about the big picture, what else could your team be helping with in conjunction with companywide initiatives? What could make your boss look like a hero?

Initiate quick status meetings, they will do wonders for your relationship with your manager. Not only it would help eliminate any misunderstanding, it would allow more opportunities to find out what is
important to the one person in charge of your professional growth!

Stay on top of company initiatives, attend all the meetings you can and each time you are sitting down with your boss, ask them where they would’ve liked to have contribute if they had the time. Then offer to help. Be careful in your wording, so you don’t sound like you are trying to steal their thunder. Offer to do tedious and non-threatening work (the initial research, writing up a plan or locating a vendor), make them feel secure that they will get all the glory. This type of sacrifice will allow you to build trust and quickly slide into a place of the irreplaceable golden child your boss will fight to keep at ANY cost.

Should you bring up the raise?

Yes, you should! Here’s why:

  • Your boss may not even realize you want one. Plus, most bosses won’t address the matter and commit to pay higher if they think you’re content with your salary.
  • Bosses lose respect for passive players, they stop seeing you a partner they can rely on and groom to take their job as they move up.
  • You might already be scheduled for a standard pay increase. But bringing up the matter will allow you to negotiate the percentage of that increase.
  • You have nothing to lose! Worst-case scenario … you won’t get all or any of what you’re asking for. But you’ll still win because you’ll know where you stand with your boss, which might motivate you to make tactical adjustments to your career path.

The Approach

It is important to bring it up way before your review to give your boss plenty of time to fight for you. There is nothing wrong with being open about money being one of your motivating factors. Employer isn’t your romantic partner and there no expectations to attend work based on pure love. So yes in your status meeting a few months before the big day its good let your boss know that you are hoping for an increase. Ask them what type of increase may be realistic and shut up. Wait for their response, before you ask for less than they were going to offer, bring up unnecessary rebuttals or just drown them in your nervous psycho-babble.

Do’s and Don’ts:

Do tell them the amount you have in mind, if they respond with that question and be prepared to support with your research.

Don’t threaten to leave like a bitter girlfriend.

Do offer to provide them with additional research to help convince their boss, if they indicate this as being a hurdle.

Don’t bring up the salaries of your colleagues even if they have been shared them with you.

Do ask what it would take to get a raise and what you could be doing to get there quicker.

Don’t use your recently increased commute, new baby or sick grandma as a reason. Frankly, nobody cares.

Keep in mind

An average IT staffing company will charge your employer a 15%-35% fee for a potential replacement should you leave. That replacement will also have a 2-3 month ramp-up time for which the employer pays in full but in return gets an unproductive and often insecure newbie who will impact the efforts of
everyone forced to train them. In other words, it takes 2-3 months to replace a professional.

With this said a successful company will do go far to retain their valuable employees. Hopefully these techniques will help you get your boss to lobby for you. However there are other factors that may increase the odds of hitting the raise jackpot.  You should be well positioned within the company. Being in the heart of your organization will secure your employment, increase your visibility and consequently put you in line for promotions.  Lastly, working for healthy organization with business model you trust and understand is an absolute must. So if getting a raise seems absolutely impossible ask yourself if it is time for a change.


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