Tune in every Wednesday for a weekly "small dose" of advice, an explanation, or an interview with a web veteran. Lauren Bacon has mentored and coached many web professionals as they were starting out and loves sharing all that she's learned from her 15-year career as a designer, front-end developer, and agency principal.
Skill Level Beginner
- [Lauren] Hi, I'm Lauren Bacon, and this is the Web Career Clinic, where I explore how to build a career you love making good stuff on the web. This week, in Web Career Clinic, we're answering a question from one of our members. And this one gets right down to brass tacks. What are some benchmarks for when to ask for more money? Well, if you want to make a case for getting a raise, I suggest taking stock of the progress you've made since your last raise. Or, if you're in a new position, since you were hired. From an employer's perspective, a raise indicates that an employee is making more valuable contributions to the organization in a variety of ways.
So, let's take a closer look at some of the different ways you can assess and articulate the value that you bring to work. First, how are you demonstrating that you're capable of taking on more responsibility? Have you volunteered to lead projects? Are you taking full responsibility for the work that's been assigned to you? Make a list of times when you've taken initiative on things, rather than waiting to be asked. That shows that you're thinking strategically and trying to lighten the load on higher-ups. Next, how have your contributions had demonstrable value to your employer? If you're in a position that brings in money, by way of sales, business connections, and so on, this is pretty easy to quantify in dollars, but if you're in a technical role, you can still pitch the value of your work by using metrics that matter to your employer.
Those might include contributions that you've made to improve efficiency or impact, or intellectual property that you've created on your organization's behalf. If you've been acquiring new skills, that can make you more valuable to your company as well. So be sure to note down any new certifications, degrees, or other professional development work that you've done since your last compensation review. Now, there are a couple of must-haves to be sure of before negotiating your salary. If your boss has asked you to improve in any areas, it's best to be confident that you've made substantial progress before asking for a raise.
And, you'll want to show that you're consistently growing and becoming more competent, regardless of whether your last performance review indicated any trouble spots. I also recommend keeping an eye on the marketplace for your skills, so you can be sure that your wages are comparable to what you could be paid elsewhere. If your salary's low compared to what you'd be paid to work for a competitor, that's good information to have before you begin negotiations. Now, before you rush off to demand a pay hike, a couple of caveats. First, consider your timing.
The best times to ask for a raise are when the company's doing well, when you've had a recent personal success, and whenever your company normally discusses compensation, say, annual reviews, or fiscal year end. And in general, you probably shouldn't negotiate your pay more than once a year. If the economy's in a downturn or you just got a raise a few months ago, it might be wise to wait a while. Next, think about whether you're asking for a promotion or just a raise.
If you're ready to take on more responsibility, you might get a bigger raise, so be prepared to make the right ask. Don't just ask for a raise if what you really want is a new title, and vice versa, don't make claims to wanting more responsibility if all you really want is a boost in compensation. By taking these steps to assert your value to the organization, and to get clear on exactly what you want, you'll be in the best possible position to ask for a raise. I hope this helps, and I hope you'll let me know how it goes! That's it for this week's Web Career Clinic.
Do you have questions about your web career? If so, I'd love to hear them. Drop me a line on Twitter at @laurenbacon, using the hashtag #ProWebClinic. Tune in next time as I explore another topic for web professionals. See you next week.