salarySmart Strategies to Get a Pay Raise in a Down Economy | Career Coach Sherri Thomas

May 14, 2011by Sherri Thomas0

A few years ago, my previous manager confirmed my biggest fear – I was being underpaid.  “It’s not my fault your salary is so low,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how low your salary was when you came into this department two years ago.”

His words hung over me like a great big cartoon bubble.  They made my stomach turn inside out.  They made me furious.  First, at him.  Then later, at myself. 

That conversation that made me realize I had to do two things: 1) stop working for this gooberhead, and 2) step up and fight for the salary I knew I deserved.

Three years after that conversation, I recieved a 35% salary increase (same company, different manager.)  Below are a few of my salary strategies that may help you get a beefier paycheck, too! 

  1. Work with people who value you!  
    If you’re performing high quality work but not being financially rewarded, then you’re working for the wrong person. I’ll say it again – you’re working for the wrong person!  The key is to work for managers or clients who value, respect, and appreciate your strengths and accomplishments.  When you work for people who appreciate you, they’re more likely to do everything they can to get you in the “right” pay range.

    I’m not talking about working for someone who has a job and needs someone to fill it.  I’m talking about someone who values your performance and has the means to pay for it.  Big difference.  One thinks anyone can do your job.  The other thinks you’re one of the elite few who can do your job.

  2. Put Yourself Out in Front! 
    She who gets the biggest results, gets the biggest raise.Doing your job successfully won’t get you a big raise.  Doing your job smarter could.  Stop thinking that working 70-hour weeks, attending 10 meetings a day and doing the work of four people will make you worthy of a higher salary.  It won’t.  It’s not the quantity of work you’re doing, but the quality.  

    Go for projects that are highly valued and highly visible by senior management.  Focus on initiatives that will generate revenue, save costs, or make the company more competitive.

    Search out ways to gain visibility and strengthen your credibility with senior managers.  This means stepping up and leading, or at the very least being a major contributor on these high profile projects and teams.  

    Yes it’s scary.  Yes it’s risky.  But if you want to keep playing it safe then get use to those 3-percent annual pay raises. (There’s nothing wrong with a 3-percent raise, but this article is for those who feel like they’re grossly underpaid.)

  3.  Know what you’re worth – and demand it. 
    There’s no excuse not to do your homework and find out what you’re worth in today’s marketplace. Find out what your job role is currently paying in positions inside and outside the company by doing a little research.  One of my favorite sites is    

    Also, check out salary calculators and reference guides on,, and Ideally, the more salary ranges for the same job role in the same geographical area that you can compare, the better. 

    Once you’re certain of the salary you should be making, then it’s time to meet with your manager.  Focus on three things: 1) clear and measurable results that you’ve delivered, 2) what the job is currently paying in the marketplace, and 3) the salary range that you want.  Be logical, not emotional. Remember, you rarely get paid what you’re worth unless you ask for it – or in most cases, demand it! 

And finally…
One of my clients ended her pay pitch by saying, “Every day I give 110% to this company.  I’m just asking for that last 10%.”  She got her 10% raise!  Hallelujah, Sister!!   :)) 


Sherri Thomas is President of Career Coaching 360, an international speaker, and author of “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” – on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books!  Career Coaching 360 ( provides career planning, management coaching, and leadership development support to help professionals change careers quickly and easily.   To learn how you can reinvent your career quickly and easily, visit Career Coaching 360′s website for resume help, interviewing support, and personal career coaching packages. 

Sherri Thomas

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