Asking for a pay rise is a taboo subject. Only a small amount of people are able to pull it off. However, it is no magic trick and usually comes down to identifying ways you can add value to your organisation while helping the company to capitalise on these opportunities.
From our experience at Softweb, working with hundreds of candidates in the tech industry, we have learnt that often candidates would like to ask for a pay rise, but have no idea how to approach the subject.
Sadly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all template for software developers facing this problem. However, if you begin by breaking down the process into small parts, tackling each step separately, you can maximise your chances of getting a pay rise.
Preparing to Ask For A Pay Rise
Preparation is key if you want to maximise your chances of success. You have to think a couple of steps in advance, and prepare for the most common scenarios you might encounter. However, keep in mind that there are always factors beyond your control.
Here are some of the most common things to consider when you start planning for your pay rise:
1. Pick the right time
Timing is one of the most important aspects when asking for a pay rise. It’s important to focus on the bigger picture and see if your request is aligned with the direction in which the company is moving. For example, it might be a good time to ask for a pay rise if your company has recently been through a successful product release. You were part of the team that made this happen, so it’s a great opportunity to ask, having proved your value to the company.
More importantly, if your company hasn’t been achieving economic success it might not be the best time to request a pay rise. Keep in mind that if you get the timing wrong and your request is denied, it could push back your plan of getting a rise by 6 to 12 months.
There will never be a perfect time to ask for a rise, even if your company has been going through a phase of rapid expansion and it’s very likely that you’ll encounter some resistance.
A good approach to ensure you get the timing right would be to set up a plan a couple of months in advance. Think of where your organisation is headed within the next 12 months and identify a couple of ways you’d be able to help the team get there more efficiently.
Once you identify how you can help the company reach their goals faster, you’ll pinpoint the exact areas where you’ll be able to start providing more value. This ensures you approach the process in an efficient manner and it’s the first step which will help you build the leverage needed to secure the pay rise.
2. Know your worth
Figure out how much you can ask for. Unreasonable requests can be immediately denied by your company, and you’ll lose your credibility which might ruin your chances of getting a pay rise or promotion in the future. This is why finding out how much value the market places on your skills is very important. It’s a data-driven approach and it will prove to your employer that you deserve the rise. There are multiple ways in which you can find out how much your skills are worth on the market:
A) Research other jobs being advertised to get an idea about the current salaries paid in the software development industry. The UK tech sector is growing faster than the UK economy, so keep an eye out on the new roles available on the job boards as they often highlight new skills the market is in need of.
B) Speak to a specialised recruitment consultancy to find out more information about your industry. Recruitment consultancies represent a link between organisations and web or software developers looking for work, so recruiters could point you into the right direction and tell you more about the current trends in the sector.
C) Use Glassdoor to find out how much the competition is paying for people in roles similar to yours. Alternatively, you can use the salary survey on Payscale.com to get a rough estimate of how much your skills are worth on the market.
3. Think about the value you add to the organisation
Most employees aren’t aware of the value they bring to their organisation, and might think that a promotion is the only way to get a rise.
Even if you haven’t been with the organisation for a long time, there could be many ways in which you add value to the team. This is especially valid for the tech industry, and it should be a big factor in helping you decide what sum to ask for as it sets you apart from your colleagues.
These opportunities could be hiding in plain sight, but it is important to be aware of the competitive advantage that your skillset brings (i.e. you have transferable skills from your previous jobs which make your current job easier). If you’re the one who’s responsible for holding the daily stand-up or scrum meeting at your company, or the person overseeing the servers, you shouldn’t overlook the value these responsibilities carry for your organisation.
Don’t fall into a trap where you’re setting barriers for yourself by thinking your experience doesn’t validate the amount you’re asking for. If you’re a top performer and constantly adding value to your organisation, they’ll have a hard time turning down your request.
4. When was your last pay rise
If there’s a case where you asked for a rise during the past 12 months, you might have to allow a bit more time until you make the request again, especially if you have been turned down.
However, if you were successful in getting a rise last time, you should take into account the fact that your managers might be expecting you to request another one. It might take a bit more work to get away with it for a second time, so prepare accordingly.
5. Provide the context behind your request
One of the main reasons why you have to prepare and research the topic is to provide the context of your request. It is important to show your managers how you’re bringing value to the company, and could be a good opportunity to talk about other ways you’d like to help the company in the future.
Don’t oversell yourself, but keep in mind that your organisation would not want to lose you to the competition. It’s also important to reinforce that you want to help the company in achieving its goals. Make sure your organisation is aware of the fact that you want to help them.
6. Consider all your options
Asking for a higher salary isn’t the only thing you can get out of the negotiation. If you’ve been working for the organisation for the past couple of years you can ask for a benefits package, more days off, or even a weekly day where you could work from home.
This is an important aspect which often gets overlooked when asking for a rise. You might not be able to get the exact sum you were hoping for, but you can negotiate other benefits which should take you closer to the salary you had in mind.
7. Get some commitment and an answer
The importance of getting an answer cannot be overstated. It doesn’t have to be a definitive answer after the first talk you have with your boss, but you must do your best to ensure you get a clear answer for your request.
Often the final say won’t be up to your manager, so if they need more time to think about it, make sure you get a timeframe and follow up with them.
Be sure to book a meeting room so the matter is addressed formally. An informal surrounding may take your manager by surprise which may affect the outcome.
8. Keep your cool
If you’ve implemented all the previous steps, then you should have no problem feeling confident during your meeting. Having a strong mental game is important because it’s very likely you will encounter a lot of resistance and hurdles in your path. However, you should have no problem passing these challenges since you’ve prepared for months.
Remember that it’s not the end of the world if you get a no. It doesn’t mean your career is over. Try not to burn any bridges because you never know what the future might bring.
What Software Developers Shouldn’t Do When Asking For a Pay Rise
There are also a couple of things software developers should avoid doing when asking for a rise. Do your best to avoid these things at all costs:
1. Threaten to leave
You could lose any goodwill and trust with your manager, or even be shown the door. It could end up really bad unless you have anything else lined up.
Issuing threats can make your organisation lose the trust they have in you. It generates an awkward situation where they wouldn’t know what to expect from you in the future. Most organisations would avoid creating a precedent by giving in to threats from one of their employees, and that’s why you have to do your best to avoid putting them in a position where they’d feel threatened.
2. Get emotional or confrontational
Getting into heated arguments can generate a bad result. Think of the salary negotiation as a dance where you’re leading your manager to your desired outcome.
Becoming confrontational or too aggressive might alienate your manager and ruin your chances of getting the rise. Additionally, be ready to make small concessions when you approach the conversation, and think of it as a dance in a sense that you’re leading the conversation instead of forcing your opinion.
3. Taking things for granted
There is always a chance your request will be denied in spite of your perfect pitch or flawless due diligence. Do your best to prepare for the meeting, but be realistic about the outcomes which can result out of the meeting.
4. Going in with high expectations
Being ambitious is a good thing, but you should be realistic in your expectations. It’s very unlikely you’ll be able to get a 100-200% pay rise. Your due diligence process should reveal how far you’ll be able to push it, so make sure you manage your expectations before approaching the negotiation table. Also, be willing to make small concessions. Getting a partial rise coupled with other small benefits is better than being refused because of an unreasonable request.
5. Giving up if you are told no
Even if your request gets denied, it’s not the end of the road. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to get a promotion or that your career is over at your current company. Learn as much as you can from the experience, and use the lessons to your advantage next time.
If you would like to discuss potential options or understand the market for your software development skills, please get in contact with Softweb Resourcing on 0118 207 7002 or email hello@