It’s performance review time and you want to make more money. You have to have a strategy that fits your situation. First, here’s a REAL case of how knowing ONE piece of information doubled my raise amount. The best part is you can do this for yourself even if you’re early in your career and have never negotiated salary before. And it’s simple. Read on.
Case: Easy Way to DOUBLE Your Raise
When I was offered my first job out of college, I didn’t do any kind of salary negotiation. I actually took a lower paying job because one job had a better quality of life than another I was offered. So I started working at Information Resources, Inc. as a market research consultant with the title Assistant Project Manager. I made $27,000. It was a good job. The company was one of the top two companies in its field. They had a number of opportunities to move forward in terms of promotion and ladder, which was kind of what I was looking for, some experience, some structure, and a path to advancement.
I spent the first year working my tail off, learning as much as I could. I tried to use my background that to try to add value; to do extra projects so that I could stand out to management. And the great thing was, I wasn’t just one of those guys who did extra projects to suck up to management. I was friendly with everybody, especially my peers (we’ll talk about why that comes into play later. I think you can anticipate that). I was a guy who was going out there and saying, “Look, I see opportunities. I want to write them up. I want to do the projects. I want to see if I can help the company succeed.”
Know Your Status
In doing so, I got the attention of not only my peers, but of management and I was promoted on an accelerated schedule after about nine months to Associate Project Manager. I knew my status: I was viewed as a top performer.
Know Your Market Value
Now, three months later was my one-year anniversary, and that’s within the hiring cycle. IRI had a delay in when you learn about your salary and when you actually get it. It was only a couple of months, so I had just gotten my new salary kicked in. I got an 8% raise, up to about $29,200. A new class of recruits came in, and I started meeting them and trying to mentor them to tell them the things they can do to get ahead. A number of them came from my alma mater. In getting to know these people we got into conversations about salary—many of which I didn’t initiate. It wasn’t something that was taboo between us. It was just kind of like, “Hey, you know, this is how much I make. How much do you make?”
This was in the New York area. Living on that kind of money, it’s so difficult. So essentially, they told me what they made and they made more money than I did. I was floored. Here I was, a top performer, got promoted and a raise on an accelerated schedule, but the people who had come in fresh and new, had no experience, were getting paid more than I was.
Justify Your Salary Request
Sure, a lot of those things are market driven. But, I had proven myself, and felt that I should make more than the people who came in after me. I talked to my manager: “Listen, I don’t want to start any trouble, but the reality is, I’ve heard that the new recruits make more money than I do.” My manager had no idea. She promised to ask our VP if that was the case. The VP confirmed that those new hires made more than I did. He agreed that wasn’t right and got approved to increase my salary. Now this was something unusual. They didn’t do this for everybody, but because I knew my status as a top performer and knew my market value was higher than what I was paid at that time, I got the special treatment.
I received an additional 7% raise on top of the initial 8% raise that had kicked in less than a month earlier. Overall, if you do the math, my total salary increase came out to just under 16% in just those three months. Yes, my raise almost DOUBLED. My new salary was $31,200. Remember, at that time, living in the New York area, that little bit of money mattered in my monthly expenses. It mattered to me personally and professionally, but it also mattered to me materially.
Lesson: Knowing peer salaries alone can help in a negotiation
I had set my goal which was to make sure that I was paid fairly based on my experience, my background and the work that I had done as a top performer. I had the data—peer salaries and my salary. Because the new recruits made more than I did, I had a clear justification for the salary raise in one step. Know peer salaries and if you uncover any unjust salary situations, don’t be afraid to talk to your manager. It might just make you a LOT more money.