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.


James P. said...

Wouldn't it have been simpler just to agree that Obama is a Muslim?

~~Silk said...

Way to negotiate, kid. Plus you made him mention a number first!

[You are NOT going to believe this! My verification phrase for this comment is "JAMES SALREHA"!!!! Seriously!]

James P. said...

Good ol' James Salreha. Didn't make much of a name for himself elsewhere, it seems. Doesn't mean he's a bad person.

James P. said...

More seriously, you are a person with lots of skill, intelligence, and drive/motivation. Other people wouldn't have pulled that off; other people wouldn't have tried. You also are a person with lots of cats, but I don't think that is a factor here.


rockygrace said...

Guys, to me this is just common sense, but I'm always amazed at the number of people I see "doin it rong", so I thought I'd put this salary negotiation primer out there. And who knows, maybe *I'm* the one who's doin it rong, but this methodology has always gotten results for me. The fact that I actually kind of enjoy the fine art of negotiation may have something to do with it.

The worst thing to go for is the "pity raise". It may work, but the employer who pities you today is going to resent the burden you represent tomorrow.

Ha! Rocky, the oracle of raises, has spoken.

Zella said...

Congratulations, such good news :) I didn't have any doubts anyways, you sound like a stellar employee and your boss would have been mad not to give you a raise. Hooray !

~~Silk said...

("Salreha" as in "salary diarrhea".)

rockygrace said...

Thanks, Zella.

And ~~Silk, thanks for clearing that up. I was wondering if it was some kind of obscure literary reference or something. Ha.

spiff said...


I know plenty of coworkers who have gone to the boss saying "I *need* a raise, *my* expenses are too high for me to survive"

It's not the company's job to manage your finances - they don't need to give you a raise because you bought too much house, or decided to have another kid, in my opinion.

I have asked for a raise twice in my working career. The first time, was when I was initially hired, and my hiring letter stated that I would be paid X and then after 120 days, I would be bumped up Y amount.

6 months later, no raise - so I gathered up my courage - I was straight out of school and this was my first job in this industry - and asked my manager what was up? He came back and said well - things are pretty tight around here - a lot of our business had fallen away - but he did come up with half of the amount he had originally promised.

And a couple of years ago, I brought up the topic with my manager, basically reminding him that my job duties had dramatically changed over the years and that I had significantly more responsibilities now - he thanked me for bringing up the topic, and asked if I had a specific figure in mind - and I said no, nothing specific, but whatever he thought would be fair, based on my contribution to the company.

I got the raise, and was well pleased - and my boss got to be the generous person and come up with a figure.

rockygrace said...

spiff, having to ask for a raise is never fun. and yeah, it's not the boss's problem if you bought a McMansion on a 50K salary.

That said, if employers want to keep their hires, they need to keep them happy, and that includes an occasional pay raise. The trick is not looking like a greedy git when you ask for one.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tails from the Foster Kittens said...

congratulations on the raise!

rockygrace said...

Thanks, Tails! More money to buy cat toys with ...

Anonymous said...

Hi Rocky

Haven't been here for a while and on my first look in you've gone an negotiated a rise - with instructions too! - well done!

You and the cats sound as if you're doing well, stomach bug notwithstanding!

Going to try to stop by more often than once annually!


rockygrace said...

Pauline, it's always good to hear from you when you stop by!