How to Negotiate a Raise, The Follow up

I couldn’t believe the response that came from my raise post last Thursday. I got a number of emails and comments and I’d like to address a number of them. Depending on my resolve, this may or may not turn into a regular series where I walk you through how to interview, crafting the perfect resume, and how to build a career. In the meantime, I want to address some of the points that were brought up, and provide some clarity.

A close friend of mine, Jeff Young is a Talent Acquisition Consultant for the Chamberlain College of Nursing. When it comes to recruiting, the guy knows his stuff. He’s been recruiting talent for almost as long as I’ve been making trading software.

Jeff writes, “Honestly, I have to say I disagree with most of the article. All it encourages people to do is become cockier, less dedicated to the business they work in, and overall they will change jobs so frequently that they will in essence be unmarketable. Maybe you could pull something like this in a sales oriented position, but for any other “corporate” position this really doesn’t work. There’s budgets and thousands of other restraints that keep someone from just getting a raise because they think they deserve one. I know if someone on my team asked for a raise because they deserved it, they’d be told to go pound sand. Now if that same person was making significant contributions toward the company’s vision/goals, then we promote. But that’s the management’s call, not the employee’s. Summary: Loyalty > threats.”

First I’d like to say that from a disclosure standpoint I’ve spent the majority of my career in sales so my approach might be a bit too aggressive for other parts of an organization. With that said, I don’t think that raises are exclusive to those in profit-center roles and I’m sure that there are other cases where you might be able to get a raise. If your skills suddenly come in demand (as I pointed out for compliance people in the financial industry) and your current employer doesn’t see fit to pay for rising costs, it’s in your best interests to find another job that will pay you. If you’ve significantly improved your skillset from the time at which you were hired, you’re probably significantly more marketable and again, would be eligible for a raise.

Many employers (such as my firm, Scaled Dynamics) have annual reviews during which time it’s expected that compensation will be discussed. If your employer does not have a process for reviewing employees from time to time, then being proactive and asking for the raise is, in my opinion, far superior to waiting and hoping.

People tend to put an implicit valuation on themselves and say things like “Oh this company couldn’t survive without me,” and “I could get way more elsewhere.” My first step is to encourage people to go find that out for a fact rather than just state it. If you can actually PROVE that you’re worth a significant raise, and the market supports it, there’s no reason on god’s green earth why you SHOULDN’T have that raise!

To Jeff’s point about loyalty, I agree wholeheartedly! Whenever I look at a resume full of 6 month and 1 year positions, I think to myself “this guy is a mercenary and isn’t going to stick around. I’ll pass!” Timing is everything. You should spend at least 2 years with each employer and you should be getting a raise at least once a year. Always remember that it’s also ok to turn employers down when you’re interviewing. You want to make sure that wherever you end up, it’s good enough of a fit that you’ll stick around for awhile.