Seeking out a raise can be an intimidating venture. Whenever there’s talk of money at a job, it can really get the palms sweating. It can bring up uncomfortable thoughts and feelings on both sides of the negotiation table, and may require a certain level of sensitivity to avoid negative results. The good news, however, is that giving your paycheck a little extra padding can be within your reach.
You may find yourself coming to a point in your job where you have been going through the grind like a champ, pretended to like your boss to the point where it’s actually convincing, and have been putting up with your co-workers for what seems like forever. It’s time to get recognized for this hard work. It’s time for a change, and that change should come in the form of larger numbers to deposit into the piggy bank. For me, that change happened after I completed a simple task.
I wrote a letter
Now, before you waltz into your boss’s office with a list of demands, you’re going to want to make sure what you have to say doesn’t go in one ear and out the other. Between you an me, I know that you are the hardest worker in your office and you never, ever go on Facebook, YouTube, ESPN, or CNN while on the clock… right? The bottom line, though, is you need to make sure you’ve actually earned it in your company’s eyes. They’re about as likely to give you an unjustified raise as you are to write your parents a bonus check for all the hard work they put in when raising you. This usually means they’ll want the answers to a few questions before a salary increase:
Have You Saved the Company Time or Money?
As the rock-star employee that you are, if you’ve made a major contribution that saved the company a lot of money, or saved a lot of time by improving processes and workflows, you have a chance to make your case.
Have You Made an Increase to the Company’s Time or Money?
If you’ve made a big sale, created something new, or completed some task that allows the company to make more money or have access to more resources, you’ll be more likely to get them on your side.
Have You Expanded Your Skills?
Have a certification you’ve received? Have additional training that makes you more valuable and harder to replace? If you have increased skills directly related to your job, a case can be made for a little more moolah.
Are You Willing to Increase Job Responsibility?
If you are willing to take on a higher workload, or you inadvertently found yourself in a position where you took on a lot more responsibility over time, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting compensated accordingly.
Are You More Valuable In Other Areas?
Think about other tasks you’ve completed or responsibility you’ve taken on in your own job that you feel make you a better asset to the company. Make sure to include these in raise request.
Now, before writing a raise request, it’s important to keep the ego in check. Some employees may have skills or capabilities that make them worth a higher salary. However, a employee is only worth what their position at the company entails. In other words, an employee is only worth what it costs to replace them. If a medical doctor gets a job as a school janitor, they should expect a janitor’s salary. And as much as we like to think that we’re invaluable and nobody could do the job like we do, everyone is replaceable for the right amount of money.
Where to begin
After the ego is in check, it’s time to write a letter. For me, I gave the letter I wrote to my boss during a recurring one-on-one meeting we have. I mentioned that I felt I may be under-compensated, let him know I’ve outlined some of my reasons for feeling this way, gave him the letter, and then asked him to read it through and schedule a follow up meeting so we could talk further about it. I wanted to make sure I gave him the salary request in person, but I also didn’t want to spring a salary negotiation on him unexpectedly. By requesting a follow up meeting, it gave him a chance to review my request and talk it over with HR and his boss.
The basic layout
When writing the letter, I wanted to make sure that I was concise as well as respectful. I didn’t want to state or gave any impression to my boss that I would leave if my “demands” were not met. A raise request should be a positive thing, and results should be able to speak for themselves.
- Formal Letter Information –You can give the letter in person but put the formalities of a letter on your request. The first impression we want is that this is a formal and professional request.
- Introduction – For the introduction, we want to address a couple of things. We want to tell the recipient that the job is great and fulfilling and then let them know what the intentions of the letter are. Also with the introduction, include a brief summary of your accomplishments.
- Raise Justifications – Be clear and concise about the benefits you bring the company. Make sure all justifications are easy to read. I separated each point with a bolded title and enough space between each point to make it easily readable. We really want our strengths to be apparent.
- Summary and Ask – Include a brief summary of why you are great at what you do, and then finish out strong with a direct ask. I would recommend asking for something a little more than what you are looking for, just so there is room for negotiation. Personally, I wanted to get a 12% increase in salary, so I asked for 15%.
I have a tech job, so the letter does get a bit techy, but it wasn’t anything my boss wouldn’t understand. Want to know exactly what I wrote? Perfect, because here is what the letter said:
[Boss’s First and Last Name] [Company Address Line 1] [Company Address Line 2]
Dear [Boss’s First Name],[Company Name] has been a great place to work since I started a year and nine months ago, and I have had an outstanding opportunity to be a part of the team. It has been nothing short of hard work, a tremendous amount of change, and a wide variety of challenges for all of us in IT. I hope you agree that, since starting with [Company Name], I have become a key member of the team and have accomplished a great deal. I am writing this to request a review of my current salary in regards to my accomplishments within the company, my responsibilities compared to when I started, and my market value as an employee. While I have enjoyed having a challenging and fulfilling position, I should be adequately compensated. Please consider the following:
Increase in Job Duties
When first starting as a System Administrator, my responsibilities revolved around managing and maintaining an in place infrastructure. After the revelation that this infrastructure was very unstable and volatile, my job duties have increased to planning and implementing projects that involve very complex systems and a restructuring of the IT infrastructure. The demands of my job have been less in line with a System Administrator that maintains a network, and more in line with a job description of a System Engineer that designs and implements highly complex infrastructure.
Since beginning at [Company Name], I’ve been personally responsible for a cost savings of over $60,000 through purchasing negotiations and other cost saving measures.
I’ve taken on a higher percentage of the shared workload among the System Administrators. In 2013, I handled 436 of 631 of trouble requests (almost 70%) assigned to System Administrators. So far this year, I’ve handled almost 75% of the requests for the same group. I have also shown a willingness to take on additional projects, even with an already high workload. With the addition of the workstation deployment project, we are still slatted to complete our full project list by the end of the year.
Critical Team Player
I have been a leader from below and a key component of the current infrastructure redesign.
I have and continue to be a very knowledgeable resource, especially through helping management with making more informed decisions, being able to work with other members of the team in their area of expertise, and sharing knowledge to help the team function better as a whole.
Higher Market Value
As my position is more in line with the role of a System Engineer, my market value in this role is higher based on the duties I’m performing. The median salary for a System Engineer is 30% higher than my current salary.
In relation to my market value, and in part due to the great opportunities I’ve had to work on high level project implementation with our infrastructure upgrades, I have an increased skillset that makes me more marketable. This is especially important in regards to the newer technologies that have been implemented, specifically Exchange 2013, Windows Server 2012, VMWare/VCenter 5.5, and Windows 8 deployment.
Unique IT Personality
I have exhibited and will continue to exhibit skills that make me an in-demand IT professional. In additional to my sharp troubleshooting skills, this includes levelheadedness in high stress situations and the ability to communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical personnel.
In light of these accomplishments, a compensation adjustment is justified and deserved. I understand that my position hasn’t completely outgrown my current title, and rather is divided between a System Administrator and a System Engineer role. I would see fit that my compensation is reflective of this. I am requesting an immediate increase of 15% to my base salary.
I trust that you will agree with the value that I have contributed and will continue to contribute to the company. I anticipate your quick response in this matter.
As you can see, I clearly and directly stated my case in an easy to read and follow along format. I was also upfront and specific with my expectations. So how did I fare in the end? We met about two weeks after this letter was written, as my boss needed time to get the all clear from the higher-ups and do a little market research himself. When we did meet, there was a little more negotiating (which was mostly a reiteration of the points in the letter), and I left that meeting with a 10% increase to my salary (YAY!).
One thing to note is that I was working at this company for a year and nine months when I wrote this letter, and I had already received two standard yearly compensation adjustments of 3% each year, one of which was four months prior to this letter being written. That didn’t deter me from negotiating what I felt I was worth.
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