Wage satisfaction is slipping among IT professionals. According to Dice’s latest salary survey, only half of tech pros are happy with their compensation, and 37 percent believe they could find a new employer this year.
If you like everything about your job except the pay, why not ask for a raise before you decide to jump ship? Knowing what your boss expects and how to broach the subject can increase your chances of success when it’s time to ask for more money and perks.
In today’s environment, it’s very difficult to get a substantial raise unless you have leverage. How do you get it? Leverage comes from having a good working relationship with your boss and being indispensable by consistently over-delivering on your performance objectives.
Your boss isn’t likely to grant a salary request out of nowhere; he or she will be more inclined to say “yes” if you lay the proper foundation and pop the question at just the right time. Remember, threatening to leave may only produce a short-term leverage gain; you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the gamble.
“If you have an open and regular dialogue with your manager about your career goals and earning potential, you’ll know when the timing is right and the discussion about money should be rather straightforward,” said Dave Ballai, CIO and VP of content solutions for Reed Tech, a provider of content management solutions based in Horsham, Penn.
If you don’t know your boss that well, Ballai suggests weaving your monetary request into a discussion about your career path and future opportunities. This technique is subtler and gives you a chance to test your boss’s receptiveness. At the very least, knowing what you have to do to earn a raise in the future can help you decide whether to stay or hit the market.
Pick the Right Time
In most companies, the best time to ask for a major salary increase is during your annual performance review, assuming that your boss gives you a superior rating and positive feedback.
IT professionals need superior performance over time to get off the “merit raise treadmill,” according to Ballai. Merely meeting expectations will get you the customary 1 percent to 2 percent at best—and nothing more. If that wasn’t complicated enough, in some companies your boss may be hard-pressed to approve a raise outside the normal cycle.
If you’d rather not wait, don’t ask for a raise when revenues are down or your boss is dealing with a major security breach, unless you propose a viable solution to the problem. It’s perfectly fair to ask for a financial reward in exchange for rescuing a troubled project or salvaging an important client relationship. Sometimes, an adverse event can give you the necessary leverage to boost your salary. Just be sure to offer an equitable solution so your boss doesn’t feel like you’re exploiting the situation.
Prove Your Worth
Basing your request for a salary increase on technical skills, certifications or rising market value is a non-starter, according to Marcus Leef, a transformation executive for a major healthcare organization and board member for the Central Connecticut chapter of the Society for Information Management (SIM).
Instead, focus on the value you’ve created for the company or the IT enterprise through the application of your technical skills and talents.
“Provide examples of your business impact using a financial lens,” Leef said. “Even someone in a pure production role should be able to link their activities to improvements in team output, delivery of training initiatives and other factors that drive IT performance.”
In a nutshell, you need to show that your compensation is just a small portion of the value you’re creating for the company. No fuzzy math; think of this as a business proposition by expressing your value in terms of dollars and cents. You should be able to demonstrate a return that is three to four times greater than your annual salary, according to Ballai.
“If you want to make more money, you must constantly ask yourself, ‘Am I bringing more value to the organization that I expect in return?’” Ballai said. “A serious look in the mirror may reveal that you have more work to do before you ask for a raise.”
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