Leslie Stevens-Huffman, Dice Insights
February 11, 2023
The average tech professional salary increased 6.9 percent between 2020 and 2021, reaching $104,566, the highest ever recorded by the Dice Tech Salary Report. Despite this, almost 48 percent of tech pros still think they’re underpaid.
However they felt about their paychecks, only 26 percent of Salary Report respondents negotiated an increase during a salary review in their current job. With employers hungry for workers with skills and experience, it’s hard to fathom why anyone who thinks they’re underpaid would avoid asking for a raise.
“A lot of people feel that they don’t have the leverage to negotiate a raise without a competing offer from another company, but nothing could be further from the truth,” advised Brandon Bramley, founder and owner of salary-negotiation coaching firm The Salary Negotiator.
Resolve to stop leaving money on the table. Here is a guide to getting the raise you deserve in 2023.
Shift Your Mindset
Don’t be intimidated because you believe that requesting a raise requires an intense, often aggressive, bargaining session. That’s an outdated belief.
It’s a very normal conversation that happens all the time, Bramley explained. Think of it as an opportunity for you and your boss to work together so you feel comfortable in your role. Any written or verbal communication between the two of you should be friendly.
It’s not tone-deaf to ask for a raise even if you’ve survived a recent layoff, so long as your company is doing well financially, explained Jordan Sale, head of sales and marketing for Rora, a salary negotiation advisory firm for tech professionals. In fact, some employers are more willing to grant raises or retention bonuses after a layoff to make sure the rest of the team doesn’t leave.
As long as you’re performing well and your boss and company like you, it’s appropriate to bring up the subject of compensation whenever you feel underpaid. Challenging the self-limiting beliefs that prevent you from summoning the courage to ask for a raise is the key to getting paid what you’re worth.
Take a Data-Based Approach
First and foremost, the amount you ask for needs to be supported by data gleaned from an analysis of the external and internal factors employers use to determine compensation, such as market conditions, supply and demand, and so on.
To calculate your “personal pay gap,” start by researching salary information sites and job boards to determine what technologists in similar roles working in your geographic location and industry are making.
Next, consider internal factors and intangible value drivers such as performance, especially completed projects and output, seniority, experience, alignment of specialized skills with your role and the company’s mission, as well as your potential and future contributions. Cumulatively, all those factors will help you justify your request.
It’s important to calculate the value of your total compensation package, not just your salary, when requesting a raise. For instance, forgetting to factor in a performance bonus (paid over and above your base salary) or the value of stock options can damage your credibility and make your request for a hefty salary increase seem unreasonable.
Before you make the ask, understand the market and what’s considered fair in your organization. Your goal is to give your manager a reasonable request they can approve or escalate.
Put Your Request in Writing
Sending a short email or letter to your boss outlining the value you bring to your company and the justification for a raise is the best way of initiating a conversation around compensation.
Starting with a written request gives you the opportunity to control the narrative and helps to level the playing field with highly skilled negotiators, Bramley noted.
Plus, his firm’s research shows that you’re likely to get a quick “no” if you bring up the subject on the fly.
A few weeks before your performance review is the ideal time to prepare your case and request a raise since your boss may need to lobby upper management and/or HR to get approval. Plus, you don’t want to put your boss in the awkward situation of having to go back to bat for you a second time because they didn’t know how much you wanted.
Don’t Start Higher
Don’t request a huge increase with the idea that you will need to come down or split the difference. State the dollar amount you believe is justified based on your performance and the results of your market analysis.
Don’t Focus on Personal Reasons
While it may be true that consumer price increases were as high as 9 percent last year, don’t cite the rising cost of gas, groceries or childcare as justification for requesting a raise. The cost of living should be factored into the prevailing compensation for someone in a similar role in your area.
Don’t Use Another Offer as Leverage
Be aware that trying to leverage another offer as a way to score a raise may backfire. Some managers may see the move as heavy-handed or summarily reject your request because they think you have one foot out the door.
Bottom line: there’s very little downside to requesting a raise, Sale pointed out. Even if the answer is no, you’ll still receive valuable feedback and know where you stand.