Monday, May 20, 2013
How it all went down
Yesterday, I asked my boss for a raise.
Timing is critical in this kind of thing, and I figured that if I was willing to go in to the office on a Sunday morning to get a project out the door, that would reflect well on my chance of succeeding.
Also critical to success in this sort of thing? A couple of factors: You have to be willing to fail, and you have to do your research.
As far as the failure thing goes, you need to go into salary negotiations cognizant of the fact that you may well walk back out with no job at all, much less a raise. I have actually SEEN my boss fire someone who asked for a raise. It wasn't pretty.
And that's where the research comes in. I didn't just wander in, all, "Gee, the cost of gas keeps going up, and it's been a while since my last raise, and, well, I really deserve more money ..."
First, I compiled my salary history. As someone who is not really money-motivated, other than the fact that having enough to pay my bills is nice, I actually could not remember the last time I had a salary increase, other than that it had been a while. So I put together a quick spreadsheet.
Then, I looked into cost-of-living increases for the past few years. There are all sorts of numbers you can go with; I try to pick something middle-of-the-road. I was actually surprised to find that the cost of living had not increased as much as I thought it had, gas prices notwithstanding, so I adjusted my expectations. This kind of research is really important to keep you from looking like an uninformed jerk when it's time to start talking.
Next, I researched comparable salaries for my position in my area. There are all kinds of bogus numbers out there, so you really do need to dig a little to get some actual, real-world figures, and not some vague bullsh*t like the nationwide average salary for a position that may or may not resemble the one that you actually occupy. I generally go straight for the online hiring sites, to pull real-time positions currently available in my area that compare to the position I perform. And you need a bunch, not just one or two. The boss may or may not ask to see the information, but you need to have it. This information also requires a little digging, as most companies are hesitant to put exact numbers on line for the world to see.
So! I had my numbers, and it was time to talk. I actually almost backed out yesterday, because I've picked up some nasty little stomach bug and am feeling somewhat green-ish around the gills, but again, I had to use my in-the-office-on-a-Sunday advantage, so I plowed ahead.
After the work was done and the project was wrapped, I asked my boss if I could speak with him, took in my numbers and my spreadsheets, and presented my case. You really, really should NOT get emotional, no matter what happens. I explained what I had contributed to the company since my last salary increase, including those weeks a year ago when I was running the place while my boss was hospitalized. I pleaded my case, and then sat back, waiting for the boss to ask me how much I wanted (or to show me the door). Instead, he had a few questions about my numbers (yes, you HAVE to do the research), then he started running his own numbers, and came up with a number that was ...
... twice what I was going to ask for.
Praise the lord and pass the ammunition, Rocky got a raise.