With a constant demand for support, specialized skills and technology, IT professionals are under a good deal of pressure at work. And if they’re not compensated for it, they might just leave — causing disruption at the company, but also their own lives.
As much as 64% of IT staff and decision-makers worldwide left their jobs for either a promotion (28%) or a pay increase (26%), according to Global Knowledge’s IT Skills and Salary Report.
However, leaving a job can be a lot of work. It takes time to submit resumes, interview and onboard. Sometimes, getting a raise at work is not only easier but preferred.
But how can IT pros get the raise they deserve?
If you work hard and show up on time, shouldn’t your boss just hand one out? Well, maybe, but it doesn’t always happen that way.
More often, you need to present your case to justify additional compensation, whether it’s a bump in salary, more paid time off, or attendance at a conference, seminar or training.
In this article, we cover four best practices IT professionals should follow to get the raise they deserve:
1. Set salary goals and expectations
2. Gather evidence, build a case
3. Work with management
4. Make a plan for the future
1. Set Salary Goals and Expectations
You work hard. You help others. You’re smart and good at what you do.
But is that enough to get a raise? As you build a case for a raise, you must consider how you’ve helped the business and how you’ve grown as a professional. Bringing these points to the table will not only help you secure a raise, but it may also influence how much you earn.
For example, according to our worldwide research, IT staff and decision-makers report earning raises that exceed $10,000 because they earned a new certification or skill. However, before you ask for a $10,000 salary bump, it’s important to do a little more research.
It’s necessary to refamiliarize yourself with what IT professionals with the same level of education and experience make on average in your area.
Using online tools like LinkedIn Salary, Glassdoor’s Salary Calculator, Indeed’s Salary Index or the Bureau of Labor Statistics can help gauge what others report making. But also look to professional organizations in IT that produce related data and research, including (ISC)2, Global Knowledge and others.
Keep in mind, there are several factors that play into a professional’s salary, including company performance. So while it’s helpful to find this information — which will become useful later on (see our second best practice) — it will help your case to supplement public data with more evidence specific to your situation.
Steps you can take to set goals and expectations:
Research salaries for comparable job titles
Look at data collected by professional IT organizations to gather and understand industry trends and developments; salary ranges and compensation; career growth and more.
Consider talking to others. Check in with colleagues outside of the organization and on professional networking sites or forums (LinkedIn groups or Reddit) to see what their experience has been.
Create a Salary Goal to Influence Your Request
Coming to your boss with a random dollar figure and no evidence why you deserve it is a recipe for failure.
Based on your findings, set a realistic goal for a raise that you think the company will fulfill. It will work well in negotiations to have a back-up amount in mind should you receive pushback.
Familiarize yourself with HR’s policy on raises before asking your boss. Knowing that HR will only consider a 5% raise will help shape the conversation and give you more confidence when addressing management. IT professionals tend to receive a raise between 4% and 6%.
Factor Time into the Request and Conversation
Time is a variable that will affect the conversation with management in many ways.
If the IT team is heads down with many large-scale projects, IT directors might not give as much consideration to the request.
What’s more, if the request comes with a tight deadline, that may put undue pressure on leadership to make a speedy decision, which could work against you.
When is a good time to talk about a raise?:
- When the company is doing well: If the company experiences financial strain, the likelihood of getting a raise goes down. Whenever possible, wait until the company performs well to make a request.
- Right after a successful project ends: Finish up a major project? Were you a key player? Great, leverage this experience in your case to get a raise.
- Annual performance reviews: Perhaps the most predictable time to ask for a raise is during a performance review. Talking raises and salary is expected, making it easier (less awkward) to have the conversation.
Related: The 10 Most Important IT Skills
2. Build a Case for a Raise
You’ve gathered data, done your research and set a goal — now what?
A part of building a strong case to get a raise has to do with compiling enough evidence that clearly communicates how you’ve benefitted the company and why you’re deserving of more compensation.
Start by answering these five questions:
- Have you taken on more responsibility at work?
- What new skills did you develop in the past six months?
- Have you attended any professional training that helped on the job?
- Did you earn any IT certifications since your last performance review?
- How has your contribution impacted the company and IT department positively?
Global Knowledge’s findings from surveying thousands of IT professionals show 37% get a raise from on-the-job performance. However, several other factors are at work too.
Here’s a breakdown of what IT professionals attributed to their raises:
Some of these factors result in higher or lower raises overall. While a standard cost of living raise may amount to 3% to 5%, achieving a new certification may lead to greater sums.
According to the report, salaries increased by as much as $13,000 for those IT professionals who earned a new certification ($12,000 for those who learned new skills).
If you’ve earned a new certification, took additional training, and built new skills since your last performance review, that’s important information to present to leadership — especially considering that 78% of IT decision-makers worldwide are struggling with skills gaps on their teams.
See the entire IT Skills and Salary Report here.
3. Approach Management with Confidence and Professionalism
Approaching management with a request for more money can be awkward. Where do you begin? How do you ask for more, but not sound ungrateful or risk your job?
With enough preparation, the conversation will go smoother than you think.
Here are some best practices to follow when meeting with leadership:
Give your manager advanced notice.
If you plan to meet with management outside of a performance review, send advanced notice to let them know you’d like to have that conversation. This gives management time to prepare and compose possible responses to your request.
Present your case tactfully and professionally.
All the preparation you’ve done until this point will help determine success. When meeting with management, present your case :
- Your contributions to the organization
- Accomplishments like new skills, certifications or training
- Salary and career goals
- Supporting data and evidence
Throughout the conversation, keep composed and remain professional. Your research will demonstrate a solid understanding of the company and job market and show management you’re confident in your request.
Stay open to feedback, negotiation and compromise.
Depending on the state of the company, delivering a raise — especially a big one — must come out of some pocket. IT must budget for everything from new hardware to the unexpected, like cyberattacks.
Nearly one-third of IT departments struggle with a lack of resources, so it’s likely some may have a harder time giving out raises. Employers will likely question the amount requested or why it’s deserved. These are the types of responses you must anticipate when preparing for the conversation (and why building a strong case will make or break negotiations).
What to do during a negotiation:
- Collaborate with management: You have a goal and you need management’s help to achieve it. Approach the conversation like a collaboration. What must happen to earn the raise you’ve requested? That could be new responsibilities or deliverables. Consider the trade-offs and how you can work together.
- Expect pushback or compromise: Knowing management might hesitate will help you build a stronger case and make you more confident going into the conversation. By anticipating these reactions, you can prepare the right material that will provide management with the information they need to get you a fair raise.
- Remain confident and optimistic: Communicating that you’re grateful for what you have now will show tact and professionalism, instead of pitting you against your employer. Leaders value positive employees who create a good work environment for others.
4. Make a Plan to Handle the Decision with Grace
Ultimately, know that the organization may or may not meet your request, either fully, partially or not at all. With this in mind, consider your options and make a plan to get the type of compensation you want.
Think of alternative options that would help bridge the gap between this conversation and the next time you ask for a raise:
- Can you get more vacation or flex time?
- Would a new, more senior job title suffice?
- How would you like to change your current role?
- Are there skills you want to work on?
- Is there a certification you’d like to earn?
- Have you attended conferences, seminars or workshops?
If you think about additional options that could affect compensation, it shows management not only are you looking to work with them, but you’re motivated to advance your career. This reflects positively on you, which may help you in future talks.
Understand How Training and Certifications Can Help Your Career
Among the best ways to earn a healthy raise is to become invaluable to your organization. And, having the right knowledge, skills and abilities can help you accomplish your career goals.
This is where Global Knowledge comes in. Our extensive certification prep courses and IT training curricula help you maximize your potential.
Every year, Global Knowledge surveys thousands of IT professionals around the world to better understand their jobs, trends and challenges. The report features data on how IT training and certifications impact salaries and raises.
See the latest IT Skills and Salary Report here, and use the data presented in the report to help you get a raise.
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