You’ve seen how much it can cost you to wait for a raise to come to you. And you know the three ingredients of a strong case for a raise and when to ask for a raise to maximize your chances of success.
Let’s look at a real-world example of how Shawn was able to get a $17,000 raise!
Shawn is a real person so I’m withholding some details out of respect for his privacy. I can tell you that Shawn got a $17,000 raise by following this process, but I’ve decided not to tell you what his salary actually is.
Shawn’s salary didn’t reflect his contributions
Shawn had been at his software and services company for about seven years. He started there right out of grad school, learned the business, and worked his way up to Senior Director of Sales and Service.
After seven years at a software and services company, Shawn’s salary was lagging behind the market. When he began working for his company, he had just finished grad school and didn’t have much professional experience. But now he was an integral part of the company’s operations and he felt it was time to adjust his salary to reflect his role.
He brought this up with his managers a few times, but couldn’t seem to make much progress. Something always stood in the way, and he was constantly waiting for a better time to make it work.
So he reached out to me for help.
We needed to combine the three ingredients of a good raise request—a specific goal, specific reasons, and social proof—with the right timing to ensure that there was budget available when he asked.
So we began by building a strong case…
Setting Shawn’s target salary
We started by asking the question, “What should Shawn be paid?”
His job title is Director of Sales and Service, so we did some basic research on sites like paysa.com to get a good idea of what other people with similar job titles working at software companies might be paid.
We were was able to determine that he could be making quite a bit more money doing the same job at other similar companies. It seemed like $15,000–$20,000 more was in the ballpark.
Now we had our baseline for his goal and we could start building his case.
Assembling a strong case
Next, we needed to identify the specific reasons that Shawn’s salary should be raised to reflect the unanticipated additional value he added to the company since his last salary was set.
He was managing more of the business, closing and re-signing key accounts, and had built processes to help make Sales and Service more efficient and more profitable for the company. For example, Shawn created an inside sales program to identify current client needs and proactively introduce new product features to meet them and increase revenue. He also created a new services offering for the company to take over manual work previously done by the clients.
We also made sure to find examples of social proof from happy clients that Shawn had worked with. This wasn’t difficult because he had been working with many of the same happy customers for several years. A quick search of his inbox found plenty of happy client emails.
Excellent! Now we had a list of specific reasons that Shawn’s salary should be increased by $15,000–$20,000. And we had a few examples of feedback from clients who found Shawn’s work to be extraordinary, just in case his managers needed additional confirmation that he was excelling in his job.
Now we just needed to find the right time to ask for his raise.
Finding the right time
Looking ahead at the next several months, we could see one big event that might free up some budget for Shawn’s raise. His company had a contract with a software developer to do some custom work, and that contract would end in about two months and it wasn’t likely to be renewed.
Since Shawn’s company didn’t have a formal review process, we knew they would take each raise request as a one-off decision. That would make it easier for Shawn’s request to be approved since he wouldn’t be explicitly competing with other employees for a fixed budget.
Shawn would ask for a $20,000 raise about a month before the developer contract was scheduled to end. This would give management time to consider reallocating some of the budget that would be freed up once the contract ended.
First, Shawn put his case in writing so he could see it on paper and so we could review it before he asked for his raise. Once we were both confident that he had a strong case with a specific goal, specific reasons, and social proof, he scheduled a time to talk with his manager about his compensation.
Initially, his manager said they weren’t anticipating this and they may not have the budget. But he asked for some time to review it and see what they could do. Their next conversation would be a week later.
After that discussion, we reviewed Shawn’s written case one last time before he sent it to his manager as a follow-up to their conversation. We wanted to be sure his manager had everything he could possibly need to consider Shawn’s request. We also knew that Shawn’s written case would be much stronger than the short summary his manager was likely to make if he had to get approval for the raise from someone else at the company.
The next time they spoke, Shawn re-emphasized his case, focusing on the additional value he brought to his role since his salary was last adjusted. His manager agreed that it was time to adjust his salary, and they increased his salary by $17,000 effective immediately.
Shawn built a strong case and got a great result. But what if your manager says no when you ask for a raise?
In the next article, you’ll learn how to prepare for the three common outcomes when you ask for a raise.