In the June 9, 2015 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader excels at a new job, fixes what was broken, and wants an early raise. Is that possible?
I have been working for a small company for six months. My duties expanded dramatically soon after I was hired. When I got here, I walked into a disaster. It took a lot of hard work, but now I’ve got the department going like clockwork.
I think I’ve demonstrated that I’m worth more than my current compensation. Is it appropriate to renegotiate my salary at this point? What approach should I take? If terms cannot be met, should I look elsewhere? Thanks for the advice!
I like your pragmatic perspective. If you’re worth more today than when you were hired, you should be getting paid more! Some employers will be shocked, but they’re the ones that will lose their best workers to the competition for underpaying them.
Your job quickly turned into much more than you were told when you were hired. That’s actually pretty common — I’ll bet lots of Ask The Headhunter subscribers are in this boat. Management is often clueless about what a job is really all about, or what it’s worth (see Salary surveys: Know when to fold ’em). But a capable new hire quickly realizes how much work must be done — and does it. The added payoff to the employer is significant.
Sometimes, the employer is conniving. It knows there’s much more work than it lets on during interviews, and hopes to gain a much higher ROI on the salary it offered. The new hire gets stiffed, but isn’t likely to quit.
Either way, I think under the circumstances six months is not too early to approach management about a raise, if you can justify your request. (In fact, it may take six months more to actually get the raise, if it is approved!)
If you suspect management isn’t going to respond well, then start a quiet job search before you make your request, not after. This will give you true leverage in the negotiation, if only because you know you have other options.
Use a business plan
Now that I’ve encouraged you, let’s consider who you’re negotiating with. No company wants to feel pulled over a barrel, no matter what you’ve accomplished. So, be responsible and friendly about this. Your presentation for the raise should include a business plan that covers these things:
- What you have accomplished,
- How much you think you have saved — or profited — the company (an estimate is okay),
- The challenges that need to be dealt with next (be specific),
- What your plan is to tackle and meet those challenges and,
- How your next year’s plan will profit the company.
You didn’t think I was going to wave a magic wand and make this easy, did you?
Here’s the key to pulling this off:
Raises are rarely given as rewards for past performance. They’re offered as inducement for even better performance in the future. In Fearless Job Hunting, Book 6, The Interview: Be The Profitable Hire, I suggest that you take this discussion to your boss:
This means walking up to the whiteboard and outlining the steps that you would take to do the job and solve the company’s problems. The numbers don’t have to be exact, but you should be able to defend them intelligently. (pp. 30-32, “What’s your business plan for doing this job?”)
If you think in terms of a business plan that promises profitable performance, you’ll have a potent case. Based on what you’ve already shared, I think you can pull this off if your employer has any integrity and realizes workers like you are hard to come by. (See How to Say It: Mo’ money is the problem!)
Now here’s the beef in this Q&A:
In preparing your little business plan, interview key managers and personnel in the company about your job functions, to establish support for your presentation. This will help you perfect it, and it will also help you test it. (If no one’s very impressed, you may want to reconsider your plan, if not your request.)
If you’ve taken all my advice, and the company doesn’t see its way clear to pay you what you’re worth, you’ll have an alternative already on deck (an active job search), which is better than having to go create one at the last minute.
Have you ever asked for an early raise, when you realized a new job was far more than you were told — and because you blew through the employer’s expectations? Or did you quietly keep doing the job without asking for more money? What should this reader do?