At some point in your career, you’re going to feel like you should be making more money. Maybe you’ve been in your job a long time. Maybe you’ve earned a new degree or certification. Perhaps you’ve taken on more responsibilities within your current role. Or, maybe you discover that peers are earning more than you, especially if they’re newer hires. What should you do?
Step 1: Know your worth.
It’s never been easier to conduct research and find data to benchmark your salary against the market. First, you can look at job postings on various job boards to get a general sense for salary ranges in your industry. You might even be able to look at your current employer’s site to see what new hires are being paid in your own organization.
Next, use salary comparison sites like Salary.com, Payscale.com, Glassdoor.com, and even the Bureau of Labor Statistics to further define pay ranges for your job title and/or responsibilities. (This article has a great summary of the top five salary research tools).
Step 2: Make your case.
When your research is done, prepare your case and schedule a meeting with your manager to share your thoughts. Here are five key factors for presenting a compelling story:
When you assess your skills and abilities, be realistic. If you only have one year of say, graphic design experience, you cannot realistically compare your salary to a graphic design role that requires 3 years. Have self-awareness so that you don’t lose credibility and hurt your case.
Compare apples to apples.
Salary comparison sites are fantastic, but the same job could vary from company to company. Let’s say you’re looking at a position on Salary.com. The title could be the same as yours, but the job duties could be different, and that difference could mean a different salary. Your research is important to your case but remember … it’s not an exact science.
Make sure you deserve it.
The most important factor that justifies a salary increase is the quality of your work. If you’ve been crushing your goals, you’re in a great position to ask for more money. If you’re not performing well or have room for improvement, you should wait until you’re meeting or – better yet - exceeding expectations.
Know what you want.
Present your manager with a number that is backed up by your research. Don’t approach your manager and say, “I deserve more money.” Tell your manager precisely what you want.
Don’t be demanding.
Ask politely and be gracious.
Once you’ve made your case, one of three things will happen: you’ll get an increase, your boss will tell you they’d like to increase you but they have to wait, or your boss will tell you no. If that happens, at least your boss knows you have an issue with your compensation and that could be a risk factor when it comes to retaining you.
If you don’t get an increase, you have a choice to make: should you stay or should you go? Are there enough things you love about your job to compensate for less money? Or, is it time to start considering a change?