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How to earn a raise or promotion in tech

By Christine Wright, Senior Vice President, Hays U.S. on January 27th, 2020

You’re several years into your role and both your salary and title have remained the same. To move forward, you’ve got to put yourself in the driver’s seat of your career. Here are the steps to take towards your next raise or promotion in tech.

Conduct salary market research
How much should you be paid? Prepare yourself with concrete figures.

For instance, software architects in Dallas make anywhere from $97,000 to $153,000 per year according to our 2020 salary guide. If you sit at the lower end of the spectrum or below, there’s an opportunity to have a conversation about your worth in the local market.

You can also make a comparison to what you’d be paid elsewhere in the country. While the pay floor in Dallas is under $100,000, software architects in Atlanta can earn salaries of $160,000 to $200,000.

Request information about pay scales from H.R.
Some companies set pay scales, also known as salary structures, based on their own market research. Pay scales are the minimum and maximum salaries companies will pay for each role at a particular level of experience.

Understanding salary bands can help your discussion with your boss. It’ll also help you determine whether it’s worth initiating the conversation at all. If you’re sitting in the low- to middle-end of your job grade’s range, you’ll have more wiggle room. On the other hand, if you’re sitting at the high end and believe you’re worth significantly more, increasing your salary may be outside your manager’s control.

Discuss what the manager’s business goals are so you can align your individual contributor goals.
Find out what your manager’s priorities are, so that you can align your day-to-day activities with those activities.

Suppose you’re a Junior Developer in Chicago earning anywhere from $70,000 to $90,000 per year. Your manager may be looking for ways to streamline the hand-off between the development team and the operations team. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your value by building relationships, communicating effectively, and embracing DevOps principles that have an impact beyond your specific tasks.

Start highlighting your accomplishments regularly
Request one-on-one meetings on a regular basis to discuss your work, your manager’s goals, and what you’ve accomplished over the past week. If you found a way to make a process take fewer steps than before, talk about it. If you have an idea for a project that can save time or prevent re-work, propose it. Regularly discussing your work with your manager will help it stick out in their mind.

In addition, track your accomplishments. Your manager may not remember everything you’ve done over the last year. Rather than resenting this, use it as an opportunity to impress. And when you’re tracking these accomplishments, include data and metrics that objectively demonstrate the value of your completed work.

Conduct a self audit & speak to colleagues
Take a moment to consider yourself objectively. Have you demonstrated progress? Have you successfully completed projects? Do you have a good relationship with your co-workers? Have you upskilled in the past year by obtaining new certifications?

That last one is particularly important. In tech roles, certifications can be a big way to differentiate yourself. Highly sought-after qualifications include:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • AWS Certified Developer
  • MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

Across the country, an Information Security Architect can earn anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 depending on their location. Meanwhile, a Cloud Solutions Architect can earn $120,000 to $180,000 across the country.

If you’re trying to make a jump to a more senior position, consider speaking to trusted colleagues to get a sense of how you’re perceived within the organization. Promotions to management or director-level roles sometimes require support from other colleagues. Doing a quick audit of your reputation and soft skills is worth it.

In Raleigh alone, an IT Director can make up to $220,000.

Consider an exit plan if necessary
If your boss says “no” or stonewalls, consider making an exit. One of the fastest ways to get a raise or promotion is to simply get a new job. It may be worth making a location change as well. There are huge salary differences depending on which part of the country you live in. For instance, the salary floor for a Network Engineer in Dallas is $79,000 while the minimum for the same role in Richmond is $90,000. For more career advice, contact one of our IT recruitment experts.

Take charge of your own career
Your career is what you make of it. If you’ve put in the work, earned more credentials, and consistently bring value to the table, your title and salary should reflect that. But remember that your employer is running a business, and they won’t part with money without hearing a solid business case. Prepare yourself with figures, assess the value of your skills, and make the ask.

Speak to your local IT recruiter now.

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