If you’re scared to ask for a raise, don’t be. I asked for one myself recently and got $5,000 added to my salary. $5,000 might not sound like much to some of you earning six figures, but it’s really going to help me on my path to a million dollar net worth.
I recently listened to an episode of the ChooseFI podcast and they were interviewing J from Millennial Boss. J shared her career story and how she was able to get significant raises, just by asking for them! Hearing J’s story got me thinking. If she can do it, why can’t I?
So, I decided I was going to ask my boss for a raise. I made a commitment to it by telling my wife what I was going to do. It’s good to tell someone else about the things you plan to do so you have someone to stay accountable to. I was a little nervous about confronting my boss and if I hadn’t already told my wife I was going to, I may not have gone through with it. I also told her I was going to do it by the end of the week to give myself a deadline.
What gave me the right to ask for a raise?
The position I’m currently in is my first role in the IT field. Before this, I was working as a CAD designer. You can read how I worked my way up from a gas station clerk to systems engineer here.
When I took my current role, I didn’t negotiate my salary at all. I couldn’t believe I was being offered a full-time remote position in the IT field so I was happy with the number they offered me of $42,000. It was around the same I was making as a CAD designer or maybe a little more when you factor in the cost of commuting.
If you’re interviewing for a new position, always ask for more than the first number they offer. I should’ve asked for at least $45,000 a year when they told me 42. It takes a lot of company resources to interview and hire new candidates, so they usually aren’t going to turn you down if they’ve already made you an offer and you ask for a little more.
I’ve been in my current role for a little over a year now and got a raise a few months ago that bumped me up to $45,000. I didn’t do anything to get that raise, it was really just a cost of living bump.
The raise was nice, but I was curious if I was getting paid the market rate. I used this salary calculator from Glassdoor to see what other people in my area with my job title were making. I entered my credentials as accurately as possible and according to Glassdoor, I was being paid about $14,000 less than the market average. I figured this salary estimate was enough evidence to show to my boss so I went from there.
Confronting my boss
The company I work for is almost completely comprised of remote workers. My boss lives in a different state than I do and I’ve only seen him in person a few times since I started working with the company. Since we communicate mostly through Skype and email, I figured sending him an email was the best option.
If you’re not a remote employee, then a face to face meeting is probably going to be best for you. Just tell your boss you’d like to schedule a meeting with them when they’ve got some free time. That way they’ll at least be expecting to talk to you about something. You don’t want to just spring it on them unexpectedly during the middle of their day.
I could’ve scheduled a phone call with my boss, but I decided to go with an email so that I could attach a screenshot of what I found on Glassdoor. I’m not good at speaking. I need more time than the average person to think through my words and formulate responses. I feel like I’ve got the right words in my head but it takes time for me to pull them out. Being able to take time to think about what I was going to say in an email was really helpful.
I wrote up a short note explaining that I was happily working for the company and all the opportunities I’ve been presented with. After that, I explained that I was curious and did some research to find what the market rate was for my position. Then, I asked my boss for his thoughts and if the number in Glassdoor was a realistic amount to ask for as a salary reevaluation. It was really just a simple 3 step email that took me 15 minutes to write up.
I proofread the email about 5 times to make sure it looked good and then after a few heart-pounding seconds, I clicked send. It’s funny to think that sending an email made my heart rate go up. I’ve jumped out of an airplane before and wasn’t much more nervous doing that than I was asking for a raise. I guess you could say I’m not a confrontational person.
The hard part is over
After hitting send, I tried not to think about the fact that I had just told my boss that I wanted more money from the company. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cringe each time a new email came in though.
A couple of days went by and then the moment of truth came. My boss’s response was “send me an updated resume and I’ll see what I can do.” Really? That’s all it took? I went into resume ninja mode and produced as good of one as I could come up with. After I sent the resume, it took about a week to get another response. My boss called me this time and said he was able to get me $5,000 more a year.
$5,000 wasn’t even half of the $14,000 number I proposed but I’m happy with it. Glassdoor doesn’t factor in the cost of commuting in their estimate and working from home is easily saving me the $9,000 difference. If you don’t believe me, read this.
Not having a commute is HUGE for me. There isn’t a single place that could offer me a position in IT within a 10 minute drive of my house. I save so much time working from home and that allows me to work on side projects like this blog and my eBay business during the day. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be earning six figures within the next couple of years even if I never get another raise at my job.
Did I deserve a raise at all?
Honestly, I’ve still got imposter syndrome in this position. I don’t know why this company hired me without having any experience other than some college classes. It’s a smaller company trying to grow and last year wasn’t very good. They ended up losing a lot of clients at the beginning of 2018 and that resulted in having to cut a lot of expenses. Within the first 6 months of me being hired, we went from about 175 employees to 120.
I watched someone in my own department who had a lot more experience than I did get laid off instead of me! I’m still puzzled about that to this day, but the only answer I can come up with is that I was nicer than that guy. I’m really laid back and haven’t had one argument with anyone since I’ve been working here.
Being likable is one of the best things you can do for your career but you shouldn’t be a pushover. I could’ve stayed in my comfort zone and been quiet instead of asking for a raise. Who knows how long it would’ve taken me to get that extra $5,000 though.
If you’re thinking about asking for a raise, I say go for it.