How to show you deserve a raise: 6 tips

Time for a bump in pay? Use these strategies to prove that it’s time for a raise
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IT leadership has never been more important to overall enterprise performance than it is today. If you’re doing your job right, you’re likely having a positive impact on business revenue.

But what about your own top line? Compensation is not the only source of satisfaction for CIOs and other IT leaders. However, making sure your value is reflected in your paycheck is critical not only for your current happiness but also for your future career plans. Ideally, an IT executive’s contributions look so clear that salaries increase as a matter of course. In the real world, however, sometimes you need to make the case.

[ What do today's IT leaders earn – and what's changing? Read CIO salary: 10 notable stats and trends. ]

Asking for a raise is rarely a comfortable experience, but there are a number of actions IT leaders can take to prove to the powers that be that it’s time for a bump in pay – making the request a little easier and the desired results more likely.

1. Don’t make it about you

“Explain what the employer gains in return from giving you a higher salary,” says LaCinda Clem, executive director for Robert Half Technology Staffing Services. Focus on what matters to the company. Do you consistently deliver projects on time and on budget? What business value have those projects delivered? How does your work compare to your that of peers inside or outside the organization?

“Communicate your worth in metrics your boss will appreciate and understand,” says Katie Ross, recruiting partner at Heller Search Associates, an executive recruiting firm specializing in IT leadership roles.

2. Show them the money

“Quantifying your achievements is an important first step.”

Can you estimate much time or money your work has saved the company? Did you implement software that helped expand your customer base? If so, how many new customers did you reach? Do you build the foundation for a new revenue-generation product or service? Were you able to reduce the budget? If so, by how much? “Quantifying your achievements is an important first step,” says Clem. “Collect any possible numbers that show how your contributions helped the business’ bottom line.”

3. Do your market research

“Another approach you can use in your salary discussion is your concern about being paid the market rate,” says Clem. There’s no shortage of online compensation benchmarks, such as the Robert Half Technology 2019 Salary Guides or’s Know Your Worth salary calculator, that will enable you to gauge the competitiveness of your current pay.

“If you’re below par, present this research to your manager and ask if they can help you get closer – or hopefully exceed – the market value,” Clem advises.

4. Save your fan mail

“Think about any anecdotal evidence you can share,” says Clem. Create a folder where you store pertinent emails that praise your work, advises Ross. Once you’re ready to ask for a raise, you have a ready-made list of contributions that were valuable to the business. “But don’t list out every ‘Great job’ and ‘Thank you’ in your discussion,” says Clem. “Instead say something like, ‘I received great feedback on my contributions for the recent data project, and the team really appreciated the insights I was able to draw from the information.’”

5. Highlight over-delivery

You’re being paid for the role you assumed. The onus is upon you to show that you’re delivering even more than that. “When asking for a raise, you need to build a strong case for why you deserve higher pay. Make sure you highlight solid examples of when you added value to the company – from both the projects in your job description and the times you went above and beyond,” says Clem.

One way to approach this is to look at your job description, analyzing your strengths, and then looking at the job description of the next role up the ladder. “Are you already doing that job or at least demonstrating a strong capability to do that job? Are you providing value beyond your required duties? Have you mastered everything on that position description?” says Ross. “Then you might deserve a raise.”

6. Make sure the time is right

The best time is after an annual performance review or a big win, “when your contributions are fresh in your manager’s mind,” says Clem. But if the IT organization or the company is struggling or coming off a bad week, table the discussion for later.

[ Perks may be crucial to your overall compensation package. Read IT salary extras: 5 perks worth pursuing. ]

Stephanie Overby is an award-winning reporter and editor with more than twenty years of professional journalism experience. For the last decade, her work has focused on the intersection of business and technology. She lives in Boston, Mass.

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