A cartoon showing an employee jumping off a spring trying to catch a dollar sign floating in the air in a pay raise concept.
Image: © Nuthawut/Stock.adobe.com

How to negotiate a pay raise

6 Nov 2023

The tech sector has been going through a rough time of late but that doesn’t mean you should avoid asking for a raise – especially if you know you’re owed one.

If your skills are valuable to your employer, they should be prepared to pay for your work. Of course, the deal works both ways. By this, we mean your employer will expect you to consistently work on improving your work and upskilling goals ­– something that is crucial for success in a fast-moving industry like tech.

If you’ve been thinking of asking your boss for a pay raise, now is a good time to do it as companies are preparing their budgets for the coming year. According to Avery Morgan, chief communications officer at academic writing platform EduBirdie, whether you are successful or not in negotiating a pay raise comes down to the value you offer.

Skills are your insurance policy

In times when the jobs market is unstable or you are having difficulty putting your case for a raise forward, take the time to focus on learning new skills as a form of insurance. “Every ability you add to your CV will strengthen your odds in the job market and increase your value at the negotiating table,” says Morgan. “Seek our underserved roles, research the skills required and then get to work learning. The more use you offer and the more competition there is for your skillset, the more valuable you will be to your employer.”

For tech workers, in particular, being proactive about staying on top of evolving trends is important. “To secure a salary increase at a time when budgets are tight, tech workers need to be proactive and consider how the space they operate in is changing — not just today, but in the years to come. If you can get ahead of the curve and master in-demand skills that few others possess, your employer will pay top dollar to keep you on the payroll,” Morgan says. “And if they don’t, you will have no shortage of offers to choose from, even when job insecurity in the market is high.”

Find your fair value

Finding out what you should be getting for the work you do is where you should start if you want a conversation with your boss about a pay raise. To find out if your current salary is in line with the market’s going rate, take a look at websites such as Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn to figure out what other companies are offering for your level of expertise, Morgan advises.

If your pay is below the average, you now have a fair figure to aim for. “But don’t expect a yes right away — especially if the timing isn’t right. When starting your career, promotions come every two to three years on average, while the pace of progression slows the higher up the corporate ladder you climb.”

Use data to your advantage

“Most people respond better to visual information, so use that to your advantage,” Morgan advises. “Prepare a short deck that outlines the responsibilities you’ve taken on, the deals you’ve closed and the profits you’ve generated. That way, you’re not just asking for a raise, you’re showing why you’re worth investing in.”

Sell your strengths

Heading into your first negotiation, you likely don’t have a CV full of experience to rely on, so you really need to sell your strengths. Are you good at problem-solving or do you have a creative mind? Can you learn your way around new technology quickly — a skill that those who are more experienced than you may struggle with, as Morgan points out. “These abilities are invaluable to employers, so make it clear what you excel at and where you’re hoping to improve.”

Get back on the market

Even if you have no intention of leaving your current job, you should keep an eye on job boards and websites. “Interviews offer great practise ahead of salary negotiations and, if you happen to land an offer, chances are your employer will be more willing to meet your demands. After all, replacing you will cost them six to nine months’ worth of salary,” says Morgan.

The behaviours that will earn you a no

Don’t expect an immediate answer, Morgan says. “Your manager will need to evaluate their budget and seek approval from higher up — so give them some time to think it over. Avoid ultimatums at all costs. If they call your bluff, you might find yourself without a salary entirely.”

It’s also crucial to “keep calm and composed. A positive, yet self-assured attitude will get you far further than raised voices and complaints.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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